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Pot and Pussyhats Welcome Trump to DC

— January 20, 2017

Welcome to a New World. Love him or hate him, today The Donald is now President Trump, the 45th individual to hold the highest office in the land. Commentators have opined for a long time that this was the most divisive election in American history. The inauguration proved to be no less divisive. Multiple protests were held (with one still to come) and even among those on the same side, tempers flared. Today, I want to look at two of the protests: one by the DC Cannabis Coalition (DCMJ) and the other by the Pussyhat Project. Today and tomorrow, pot and pussyhats welcome Trump to DC.

Welcome to a New World. Love him or hate him, today The Donald is now President Trump, the 45th individual to hold the highest office in the land. Commentators have opined for a long time that this was the most divisive election in American history. The inauguration proved to be no less divisive. Multiple protests were held (with one still to come) and even among those on the same side, tempers flared. Today, I want to look at two of the protests: one by the DC Cannabis Coalition (DCMJ) and the other by the Pussyhat Project. Today and tomorrow, pot and pussyhats welcome Trump to DC.

Readers know by now that I have little-to-no patience for the ridiculousness that is discrimination. I have no problem pointing out the flawed logic of those who insist that some people are better than others by virtue of skin color, religion, politics, gender, sexual orientation, ad infinitum. So, it will come as no surprise that I’m not thrilled by our new administration and its focus on “making America great again” by handing the keys to the kingdom to the uber-rich, while cutting funding for important programs like Planned Parenthood, etc.

UPDATE: A lot has happened today. My original intent was to present this piece as a lighthearted look at two protests. The piece was meant to inform and also to provide a little levity to what some are calling a horrible day in American history. After reading recent news reports, I cannot, in good conscience, proceed with my original piece. There were multiple protests today and, sadly, some turned quite violent. Roughly 95 arrests were made at last count, due to destruction of property and physical confrontations with police, which included the throwing of rocks and bricks. It would be in poor taste to publish the article I originally planned.

As I said, I wanted to do a lighthearted but informative piece to give a little chuckle to those having a hard time with today’s events. Then, a very good friend sent me a link to a story about one of the protests. The author questioned the efficacy of the protest, arguing that it was too much like a party to be taken seriously. That gave me food for thought and a change of focus.

After all, the author made some good points, or so I thought. And, being an openly gay man who’s marched and protested for LGBTQ rights for a long time, I could see her point. I marched on DC in the early nineties. It was a mix of seriousness and party. What many people, especially my brothers and sisters in the media, took away from it was not necessarily the fact that we were marching for our lives, but the fact that some marchers were doing so in ass-less chaps.

Focus number two was born. The piece was going to be irreverent, informational and also a call to take more serious action. Then, I read the comments to the piece my friend sent. If the election was divisive, you should read the opinions of the protests. Some were logical points about the power of unity and others were just plain nasty. Welcome to focus number three. And then the violence struck. More correctly, certain protesters struck with rocks and bricks. Hello, focus number four and a last-minute rewrite.

Here’s how this piece is ultimately going to play out, instead. I’m going to tell you about the two protests I mentioned earlier. They’re fun, yes. And they are effective, but not in the way that some may think. Finally, I’m going to give you all some homework.

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

Protest number one focused on the legalization of marijuana. Adam Eidinger, DCMJ’s founder said, “The main message is it’s time to legalize cannabis at the federal level.” DCMJ worked to get Initiative 71 passed. Initiative 71 legalized the possession of two ounces or less of marijuana, the growing of it and giving it away. However, it’s still against the law to sell pot in DC.

The purpose of DCMJ’s march – federal legalization – is in response to Trump’s pick for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. Mr. Sessions has a serious issue with weed. Mr. Eidinger said, “We are looking at a guy who as recently as April said that they are going to enforce federal law on marijuana all over the country. He said marijuana is dangerous.”

Regardless of one’s opinion on the green, the Obama administration left it up to the states to decide its legality and largely shied away from enforcing federal laws. Frankly, this was a good move. Marijuana has great medicinal properties, despite what its opponents preach. Anyone who lives in chronic (no pun intended) pain and wants to avoid opiate addiction can tell you that much.

DCMJ gave away 4,200 joints at the inauguration. At the four minute twenty second mark in Trump’s speech, the lucky recipients of DCMJ’s gifts lit up. Here’s where the exercise of First Amendment rights (freedom of assembly) gave way to civil disobedience because toking on federal property is grounds for arrest.

According to Mr. Eidinger, “We are going to tell them that if they smoke on federal property, they are risking arrest. But, that’s a form of civil disobedience. I think it’s a good protest. If someone wants to do it, they are risking arrest, but it’s a protest and you know what, the National Mall is a place for protest.”

DCMJ is not protesting Trump, Mr. Eidinger said. The protest, and the free weed, is open to everyone.

According to NBC News, “More than 10,000 people had gathered Friday morning in DuPont Circle, in a line stretching five blocks long, to pick up their weed, said DCMJ co-founder Nikolas Schiller. They planned to march toward the National Mall and light up at exactly 4 minutes and 20 seconds into Trump’s inaugural address – a nod to the number ‘420’ which is code for marijuana/getting high. ‘I got my joint and it’s wonderful,’ Justice Shakur, who drove from Baltimore, told NBC News, adding that ‘you can be a Trump supporter and still like marijuana.’”

Here’s to the peaceful power of the herb.

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

Tomorrow will see yet another peaceful protest as women wearing pink pussycat hats march in protest of the misogyny of our new leader. This protest was the subject of the article my friend sent. If words were bricks, commenters on that story would be under arrest and the author would be in the hospital.

The author, Petula Dvorak of the Washington Post, took these women to task for being frivolous and even said the march “will be remembered as an unruly river of Pepto-Bismol roiling through the streets of the capital rather than a long overdue civil rights march.”


She further wrote, “It’s about human rights. It’s about the way 51 percent of our nation’s population still gets less pay, less representation in elected office and in corporate corner offices, less access to health care, less safety and less respect that the other 49 percent of our deeply divided nation.”

To back up her opinion, Ms. Dvorak referred to the Miss America protests in 1968 and 1969 and the myth of the burning bra. She wrote, “In fact, no bra was burned at Miss America protests in 1968 and 1969. Feminists threw false eyelashes, mops, pans, Playboy magazines, girdles, bras and other symbolic ‘instruments of female torture’ into a trash can. But the Atlantic City municipal code didn’t allow them to set it on fire. Yet because the idea of a burning bra was so lurid, it eclipsed the fact that in the 1960s, women couldn’t get a credit card without a husband’s signature, couldn’t serve on juries in all 50 states, weren’t allowed to study at some of the nation’s Ivy League schools, couldn’t get a prescription for birth control pills if they were unmarried, were paid 59 cents for every dollar that men earned and could easily be fired from a job if they got pregnant. Among other outrages.”

She even refers to the hats as “a smart and snarky middle finger to the incoming predator in chief, who somehow managed to win the presidency despite openly bragging about grabbing women by their genitals.” Ms. Dvorak believes that such actions undercut the march’s intended message. In her opinion, “Protests are successful and effective when they have a clear message, a clear mission. That’s part of what made the 1913 march by the suffragettes seeking the right to vote so memorable and the 1963 Martin Luther King Jr.-led March on Washington so powerful.”

In a small way, I alluded to this earlier when mentioning LGBTQ marchers in ass-less chaps. However, here’s the deal and also the gist of the comments Ms. Dvorak received on her article.

Yes, the “frivolity” may end up being a focal point for the media. The ass-less chaps were, to be sure. That’s one reason (in addition to the recent violence in DC) that I’ve rewritten this piece so damned many times. If we only focus on pot and pussyhats, we miss the point.

As commenters were quick to point out, the Pussyhat Project is more than just hats, just as the LGBTQ march was more than just ass-less chaps. Will hats make a difference? Will hats reverse the election? Will hats change the minds of misogynists who think that women are pieces of meat meant to please them whenever they choose?

No. No. And, likely, no.

Why have the march then? Pretty much for the same reason DCMJ handed out joints and engaged in peaceful civil disobedience. For the same reason I got the worst sunburn of my life in DC.

Solidarity for a cause, that’s why there’s a Pussyhat Project. That’s why DCMJ got 4,200 people high. That’s why I have to wear wide-brimmed hats in the summer sun. We came together for a cause. Our unity in the face of situations we believe are grim and unfair and unacceptable is a springboard to change. However, apologies to Ms. Dvorak, marches, however serious or frivolous, do not themselves make change. Grassroots action, sparked in some ways by the coming together of millions of individuals, eventually brought about change. Does that mean we should poo-poo pot and pussyhats? Absolutely not! Sure, some media outlets will glom onto 4,200 joints and a million plus bright pink hats and dismiss the causes out of hand. But that’s a mistake, my friends.

The media and our detractors dismissed the LGBTQ march on DC thanks to ass-less chaps. Look where we are today. Was the march fun? Other than a sunburn that made my forehead look like a Thanksgiving turkey, yes. What’s more, it energized and empowered many people who went back to their respective communities and got involved. Almost a quarter century later, LGBTQ folks can marry and have many of the basic human rights that were previously denied us. Is there still more work to do? You bet your ass-less chaps there’s more! In my opinion, that march built upon the work of thousands of activists from the Stonewall riots through to today and lit a fire under the collective asses of a younger generation who continued that work.

So, don’t dismiss the pot and pussyhats that mark the beginning of a new administration. Don’t listen to media or other close-minded twits who want to dismiss the power of a people united, even if a free joint and a pink, cat-eared hat is what brought them together. Make no mistake, dear readers: these are people who are pissed off (with just cause), who vote (even though the system is badly broken) and who will return home from the protests with a fire lit in their souls that will not be put out until everyone is treated equally, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office.

And to our elected Republican leaders: rejoice in your happy day. Midterm elections are two years away and there are plenty of pissed off pot smokers and pussyhat wearers who will be coming for you, peacefully, at the polls. You’d do well to pay attention and legislate from a place of fairness and justice for all and not just the good ol’ pussy-grabbin’ boys club.

Here’s your homework, dear readers: March, don’t march, that’s up to you. Either way, when the dust settles, the pot smoke dissipates and the pussyhats are put away, get involved! Write your elected officials. Demand fairness and equality. Become a collective voice that is too loud to be ignored. That’s how true change happens. And, despite a broken system, get your butts (in chaps or not) to the polls in 2018.


Free Marijuana on Inauguration Day
The Women’s March needs passion and purpose, not pink pussycat hats
Dozens Arrested in Anti-Trump Protests Around Inauguration

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