By "Radical" Russ Belville
Village Voice columnist Miles Tanzer is among many in the media who have noticed that once again, questions about marijuana legalization dominated the online forum “Ask Obama”, where the president asks for suggestions from the people about public policy. Unlike the mainstream media, Tanzer mocks this exercise in democracy and communications with the headline “YouTube Stoners Calling For Obama To Answer ‘Burning’ Questions”
YouTube is now taking submissions for its second annual “Ask Obama” online town hall meeting. Naturally, marijuana legalization advocates have spammed the YouTube channel with questions about their favorite pastime and the “world saving herb.” On Thursday, at 2:30 p.m., some of the top-voted questions will be brought to the president’s attention. This might be a boring interview considering that the top 300 most popular questions on the site are only about legalizing marijuana. We feel bad for the intern that has to sort through these.
…we’re pretty confident that the prospect of this legislation going anywhere, or even Obama taking any more of these questions, is about as likely as a stoner moving off the couch during an Aqua Teen Hunger Force marathon.
What do you mean, “naturally”? ”Naturally” the people who are being arrested and lives ruined for using a substance safer than tobacco and alcohol are vocal about that? ”Natually” Americans who love their country and civil liberties are vocal about saving them? What is it about the cannabis community that “naturally” makes us more capable of allegedly manipulating an online forum? Why is it that, say, Tea Party activists, NRA supporters, gay rights advocates, or the religious right can’t seem to dominate these forums like we can?
It would seem that we’re actually quite motivated and productive, huh? And rather intelligent to be so efficient and capable online, right?
There are 25,000,000 of us, Miles, who will consume cannabis this year. We tend to be better educated and have higher incomes than those who don’t. Rather than reaching for tired stoner stereotypes and pot pun headlines, why don’t you apply Occam’s Razor and realize that ending the drug war is a major concern among a vast number of Americans, some of whom don’t even use cannabis?
How weird is it when Village Voice is the one mocking marijuana legalization, while we get this reporting from staid mainstream media outlets:
UPI: Top Obama YouTube questions: Legalize pot – The top questions Americans want to ask U.S. President Barack Obama on YouTube Thursday deal with legalizing marijuana, a review of the questions indicated.
More than 193,000 people submitted nearly 140,000 questions and cast almost 1.4 million votes by midnight Wednesday, the submission deadline, a United Press International review indicated. This is 10 times last year’s 14,000 questions, the first year YouTube hosted an Obama interview.
The top 10 questions all involved ending or changing the government’s war on drugs, legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana and embracing industrial hemp as a “green” initiative to help farmers, the UPI review found.
The United States is hemp’s biggest importer. China is hemp’s leading producer. The U.S. government does not consistently distinguish between psychoactive marijuana and the non-psychoactive cannabis used in industrial hemp.
USA Today: Obama’s questions from YouTube deal mostly with legalizing pot – The YouTube generation is speaking, and many of them want to legalize marijuana.
A coalition of groups that support legalization of marijuana report that the top 100 questions deal with their issue, and says, “the American people want to know why our country is continuing the failed, catastrophic policy of drug prohibition.”
Politico: Obama is urged to talk about drugs – Drug policy groups are calling on President Obama to talk about legalizing marijuana after the top 100 questions posed to him for a YouTube “interview” turned out to be about the topic.
Obama will answer questions Thursday afternoon from people who sent submissions to a YouTube channel billed as a chance for the president to discuss issues more in-depth after his State of the Union speech. Obama didn’t mention drug policy in his speech.
“Several of the most popular questions also address why our elected leaders have virtually ignored these important issues,” read a statement by the Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the Marijuana Policy Project, NORML and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
“The American people want to know why our country is continuing the failed, catastrophic policy of drug prohibition,” they said. “We are encouraged by the grassroots response bubbling up around this issue and urge President Obama to address this issue seriously and thoroughly.”
I do appreciate you noting we had the top 300 most popular questions. My analysis on Tuesday night found us only owning the top 100. As the poll closed last night, more questions from other categories managed to break into the top ranks so that we only hold now the top 80. UPI only claims we have the top 10. Regardless, who’s the stoner here?
Still, let’s consider the theory of spamming. The top question got 13,842 votes and there were 193,076 people who answered. That means about 7 in 100 people who logged on voted for the LEAP question. The next most popular legalization question had 5,745 votes, or about 3 in 100 people. If those seven people were spamming drug questions, why did four of them miss the next question? Since there were many of the drug war questions that got 2,000 – 5,000 votes, it seems to me more than half of the people who liked the LEAP question weren’t “stoners”.
P.S. Miles, I hate Aqua Teen Hunger Force and I’ll bet you an ounce I spend less time on the couch watching TV than you do.