God of Comics – Reefer Madness
Reefer Madness (Dark Horse Comics)
It’s amazing the way effects of greed-based propaganda still linger.
Here’s a collection of misinformation put out from the thirties through to the forties about the reefer, the marijuana, the weed… one of the most harmless things people have used to try and relax. It’s full of stories based on blatant lies that ground themselves in tragedy and stupidity, but were nonetheless believed in order to criminalize a whole strain of plant that could have made the world a better place.
Weed is relaxing. Used responsibly, it’s good for you: it lowers stress and aggression, fights cancer and a host of psychological and neurological issues ranging from depression to PTSD to the symptoms of severe autism. It’s not a gateway drug; if anything, studies show that marijuana can help people get off harder drugs and move beyond a dependency on anything, including weed.
So why? Why was it criminalized? Why was it outlawed?
Social, corporate, and political reasons, mostly. As usual. If there’s something good and cheap that is readily available and easy to produce, some member of the 1% is going to do what they can to ruin it for everyone else.
We’ll start with the social implications – weed was tied to the hippy movements that were promoting peace and anti-war. The hippies were a political powerhouse that would riot in the streets to fight the injustices perpetrated by a crazed government throughout the sixties and seventies, but weed was also the drug of choice for the beatniks and artists of the thirties and forties.
Tyrants of every stripe – regardless of the governmental type that they exist like parasites within – hate artists. Hate intellectuals. Tyrants despise anything that challenges the ideas that they perpetuate but in the confines of a democracy, they can’t outright outlaw freedom of speech. What they can do, however, is outlaw the things that hippies and beatniks and artists and intellectuals are associated with; if all those groups smoke weed, why not outlaw that and then lock up the people that speak against you?
And so they did.
On a corporate level, one of the big media moguls of his day was a man named William Randolph Hearst. William was a monster among men, an actual murderer and a horrible human being who manipulated facts to push his political opinions and financial interests. In this case, he had huge financial interests in pulp paper mills and his profits were being cut into by hemp paper, which is faster, cleaner, and cheaper to produce.
In a perfect example of crony capitalism – the type favored by conservatives who blather on about the free market while looking to deregulate everything and crippling progression and innovation to the detriment of everything and everyone except the bank accounts of a very few already wealthy individuals – William realized that while he couldn’t outlaw hemp paper, he could assault hemp because of the drug that same plant produced.
And so he did.
Finally, on a political level, we get to something horrible and insidious and outright fucking evil. See, African Americans and Hispanics and Jews and women and pretty much everyone not white and Christian and male tended to look out for their own best interests and not vote for conservative politicians, given that those politicians liked to dehumanize them and take away their rights and chances whenever possible.
Conservatives could not outlaw being African-American or Hispanic or Jewish or female, but they could outlaw a thing those groups were associated with doing, which was smoke weed. See, people convicted of a felony lost the right to vote, so if any member of those groups was caught smoking the reefer and was convicted of it, they lost their voting rights and could no longer vote against a political agenda. Sure, it would ruin those people’s lives forever, but lying and wrongfully locking people up is a small price to pay when you’re looking to con people out of being human.
And so they did it.
They actually did it.
And the world became a worse place for it. All the lies and all the fetid rancid corruption threw generations of people in prison for no good reason. It destroyed families and continued to spread lies and even today we’re fighting against an incredible campaign of misinformation, hysteria, and corruption so that a very few people can profit on all that human misery.
This comic was written when all that was just beginning. It was meant as satire but people took it seriously. It was a tool of propaganda and it’s important to look at it from that perspective, as a means to misinform and demonize one of the best things that exists for all of us so that a handful of people could get just a little bit more wealth while destroying people, the environment we all live in, faith in the media, and so much more.
The sheer talent involved is a who’s who of the early days of the medium: you’ve got Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Frank Frazetta, Jerry Robinson, Jack Kirby, and so many more. I urge you to read this and understand the context in which it was written – we have to do and be better. Things have gotten worse and we’re slouching towards extinction, driven on by a death cult of greed that uses these same tactics to gain a little bit more while leaving so much less.