The Dope

[What a dumb pun.]

So the Supreme Court spoke this morning in the case R. v. Clay and marijuana smoking is not a constitutional right – but only on a 6-3 split. Apart from the reassurance that the brewers and distillers of Canada were looking for, there is some very interesting language:

Reliance is placed by the appellant on the observations of La Forest J. that “privacy is at the heart of liberty in a modern state”… and that “the right to liberty enshrined in s. 7 of the Charter protects within its ambit the right to an irreducible sphere of personal autonomy wherein individuals may make inherently private choices free from state interference”. However this “privacy” aspect of s. 7 relates to “inherently private choices” of fundamental personal importance… What stands out from these references, we think, is that the liberty right within s. 7 is thought to touch the core of what it means to be an autonomous human being blessed with dignity and independence in “matters that can properly be characterized as fundamentally or inherently personal”

With respect, there is nothing “inherently personal” or “inherently private” about smoking marihuana for recreation. The appellant says that users almost always smoke in the privacy of their homes, but that is a function of lifestyle preference and is not “inherent” in the activity of smoking itself. Indeed, as the appellant together with Malmo-Levine and Caine set out in their Joint Statement of Legislative Facts, cannabis “is used predominantly as a social activity engaged in with friends and partners during evenings, weekends, and other leisure time” (para. 18). The trial judge was impressed by the view expressed by the defence expert, Dr. J. P. Morgan, that marihuana is largely used for occasional recreation. Reference might also be made on this point to a case under the European Convention on Human Rights decided recently by the English courts under the Human Rights Act 1998 (U.K.). In R. v. Morgan… the English Court of Criminal Appeal observed, at para. 11, that:

A right to private life did not involve or include a right to self intoxication, nor the right to possession or cultivation of cannabis, whether for personal consumption within one’s home or otherwise.

So… no right to do it as a matter of personal autonomy because it is not big enough, not a matter central enough to be a matter of personal integrity. This is a bit weird. If we are autonomous from the state, can’t we choose to be slackers? Are we not allowed to dedicate the core of our lives to the life of choice, even if the choice made is not the profound? If we are not granted each our own choice, we are not then each so much uniquely individual but individual as measured against some idealized standard of generic individuality. I bet if we looked into the brain of the judges the ideal standard might look a lot like the life they chose for themselves. Oddly, in many other areas of constitutional law, the individual is allowed to define him or herself – it is a subjective right. It looks like the subjective right to be slack is not good enough.

Last Night I Rocked…Again

I can’t believe I was in the same room as
the Chump
. It’s been a big rocking year for the old man. I saw Sarah Harmer in February
(opened by the CBC propped up and badly managed Nathan Wiley – needs to meet more kids
his own age who play instruments), then Elvis Costello in
summer, Sloan two
months ago
whose opening act was Boy (whose name makes them almost
ungooglable) and now this.

We will wait for 7 years before we are in a room with Al
Weeping Tile in 1996 with Sarah’s sister Mary (left) then on bass

Sarah Harmer and her old band
Weeping Tile do a Christmas benefit for the Sally Ann every year. Luther Wright was the MC and we
were sitting next to his granny. It was an all ages thing so there were teens
and grannies all over the place. This is the eighth and had, as an opening act,
Oh Susanna, one of the strongest
voices I have ever witnessed – one of those like you wouldn’t want to be in a
bad relationship with her kind of voices. She sang “Go Tell It On the Mountain”
backed by Weeping Tile. The other two acts were interesting. Jay Harris was good if only for the things
he was doing to that poor steel guitar. The tastebuds were challenged, however,
by The Dave Hodge Experiece, which you kinds got the feeling was made up for the
show. Drums, fender guitar, fender bass and a frontman (Dave Hodge) playing a
casio one note keyboard with an electric fireplace in front of him. It was kind
of nerdy, high voiced, elementary school Gang of Four
without the catchy stuff. Good humoured though. It was a great evening – we had
to cut out about 11 pm to pick up the kiddies, so missed much of the Weeping
Tile Set – Sarah music then was as dark as it is lithe now, lyrics as gritty.

The Dave Hodge Experience reminded me of a band playing at an early ’80’s
show at the UKC
impressarioed by Gillian McCain,
whose web bio seems to delete the Kings years.  At that show, when I
suggested, perhaps too loudly, that a certain keyboard player sucked, I received
the wrath that only a New Brunswick french fry princess steeped in new wave and punk
knowledge could unleash.  It was an envigourating moment.  In the
middle of the night during my campus police shifts, I used to read her cool,
rare and expensive new wave / punk ‘zines that came in the college mail.


Sae help ma bob!
Creature from the Deep

Now that I have an Ikea desk and a sufficiently powerful power bar empowering my computer, I can actually hook everything up including the $129.99 Dell scanner printer and inundate you with old family photos. This particular leg is attached to my first cousin, aka the Waxy Giantess, who ten years ago had issues with getting back into a boat. I love the worried brow.

Libya ‘n’ Dubya

This is good news. Libya has announced it is packing away the evil – just in time for Christmas. George looked just a little uncomfortable from the White House press room putting Libya with the glad tidings merry merry happy happy stuff. With luck, he’ll get used to these announcements.

More wine, Bruce??
Me and Bruce in Paris in Feb. 1986, dodging “Syrians”, drinking red wine

Almost three years before the Libyan secret service blew up a passenger jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, the US had bombed Tripoli in the heady spring of 1986 when a club in Berlin with US service personnel blew up, when I was goofing off in Paris with Bruce, Jamie (of the Hotel Home Latin) and Mark as the bombs were going off there. We missed one explosion in the front of a bookstore by a few minutes as we headed out to supper. During the best part of a month, we never went to the Eiffel Tower, a prime target. Gendarmes with machine guns were in the subways. The word was it was the Syrians, who were the puppets of the Soviets. We thought it wasn’t Islamic-related terror at all – just good old Cold War terror. Bruce ended up a few weeks later in Athens when TWA 840 was blown open. I was interviewed when I returned on CBC Halifax’s Information Morning in what rapidly turned into the most boring piece Don Connellyever did:

“So what did you do when the bombing started?””Ummm, went to a bar…no, we went to a bar in Belgium…umm, no that was later…no, we just went to the supermarket and bought a few litres of Algerian red. Yea, that’s it.”

The place where we are at now with the war on terror was a long time coming. Clinton is blamed for not getting a handle on it soon enough. That is at least two administrations too late.

So <i>Miami Vice</i>Later:A detail of Bruce’s greasy 1986 moustache. Moustache, by the way, is the most popular Greek word in English.