KGO, KNTV, KABC, KTTV, KTLA = Censorship

Those of you who know me know that I hate censorship in most forms that it takes. I think that free speech is an important part of a free society. While Government censorship is perhaps the worst kind (and certainly folks living in places like China have it a lot worse than we do) I really hate all censorship. The worst censors though, I think, are the ones that employ censorship to censor political speech. So I was especially disappointed to read yesterday about several Bay Area and Los Angeles based TV news outlets refusing to sell air time for a 30 second commercial about the marijuana legalization debate. While I personally support the legalization of marijuana and the tax revenues that such an initiative might bring, I don’t think that is really the issue here. I’d be just as offended if these same media outlets refused to sell advertisement time to opponents of the legalization of marijuana.

Although the media are private companies and are not legally required to remain uncensored, I think it’s very bad form when they actively engage in censorship, especially censorship of this type. I think that when a media outlet is granted the privilege in our society of controlling a large chunk of public attention that they owe it to us all to remain politically neutral when it comes to paid advertisements. The ad that was rejected can be seen above. I’d encourage you to check it out, fave it on YouTube and share it with other people on your blog, on places like Twitter and Friendfeed and in other public forums. The ad is not offensive. It’s an honest attempt by a political organization to present an opinion that now is the time for California to consider legalizing marijuana.

Despite this honest attempt at public discourse though, the media outlets named in the headline of this post, KGO and KNTV in the Bay Area and KABC, KTLA and KTTV (Fox) in Los Angeles have refused the ad above. Interestingly enough several other media outlets including CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, KPIX, KXTV, and KRON are currently running the ad.

Anthony Citrano has also written an insightful post over at The Huffington Post where he give more details about this unfortunate act of media censorship.

Smoke Two Joints in the Morning, Smoke Two More at Night, Legalizing Marijuana is the Number One Suggestion in President Obama’s Virtual Suggestion Box

Ending Marijuana Prohibition

The Register published a story yesterday regarding President-Elect Barak Obama’s experiment with a public suggestion box over at is a sort of government suggestion box where people can ask questions or offer suggestions to the newly elected President that supposedly he’s going to consider. Users on the site can vote suggestions up or down. And the top suggestion amongst the thousands offered to the new President. Yep, you got it, people wanna get high, legally.

From the Register:

“Obama’s site will close down its internet suggestion box today, after a week of taking suggestions and opinions on the new administration’s executive policy from the web public at large. In standard Web 2.0 fashion, users can vote up or down on existing entries the theory being that the best schemes will rise to top.

Supposedly, the “top ideas” will be presented directly to the new Commander-in-chief in the form of a “Citizen’s Briefing Book” following his inauguration on January 20.

Barring any massive last-minute changes, the tip-top idea will be best summarized by the philosopher/poet Chris Tucker in his cinematic role as Smokey: “I’m gunna get you high today, ’cause it’s Friday; you ain’t got no job…and you ain’t got shit to do.”

There are lots of other interesting ideas that the general public has come up with including suggestions for bullet trains and light rail, ending Govt sponsored abstinence programs, creating a more green country, etc. But top of the list is legalizing pot.

Barack Obama of course is the first President who has admitted that he smoked pot in the past and actually inhaled frequently because “that was the point.”

With the budget woes that are currently facing the country, certainly legalizing marijuana could provide for a windfall of Government revenue. It was largely the need for tax revenues that got the government to end the prohibition against alcohol back after the Great Depression. In an interesting editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle last week the tax benefits of legalizing marijuana were raised once again with the argument being made that the State of California could possibly address our current budget woes by a tax on the popular drug:

“The marijuana crop is valued at $13.8 billion annually – nearly double the value of our vegetable and grape crops combined. Our state is the nation’s top marijuana producer. Indeed, the average annual value of our marijuana crop is more than the combined value of wheat and cotton produced in the entire United States.

According to government surveys, 14.5 million Americans use marijuana at least monthly but both the producers and consumers of this crop escape paying any taxes whatsoever on it. While precise figures are impossible given the illicit nature of the market, it is reasonable to suggest that California could easily collect at least $1.5 billion and maybe as much as $4 billion annually in additional tax revenue, if we took marijuana out of the criminal underground and taxed and regulated it, similar to how handle beer, wine and tobacco.”

It will be interesting what our new President has to say about legalizing marijuana if he has the political gumption to actually broach the subject. Certainly almost 100,000 people on the internet have. One person though who it looks like doesn’t support marijuana legalization is Obama’s pick for Surgeon General, Sanjay Gupta.