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Clarifications for the fourth grade education

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
March 6, 2002


"What you talkin' about Willis?" — Gary Coleman

Two weeks ago in this space I took issue with the Bush Administration's sloppy rhetoric linking illegal drug use and his lopsided war on terrorism. The catalyst for my criticism was the airing of simplistic public service announcements during Super Bowl XXXVI. I wrote this particular column to bring attention to what was obviously the work of Donald Rumsfield's ill fated Office of Strategic Influence.

Last week Encinitas Mayor Christy Guerin, requested a meeting with me, an invitation I gladly accepted. As self assured as usual, I thought she was going to ask my opinion on community character, something the City of Encinitas is currently wrestling with. Boy was I wrong.

In reality, Mayor Guerin wanted assurances that I had not, in fact, suggested that teenagers smoke marijuana and drop ecstasy as a way of protesting American foreign policy. She did this after receiving phone calls from angry residents, who wanted to know what she was going to do about a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission advocating drug use. After reviewing what I wrote, we decided that perhaps I had written over the head of a few readers, and I had better clear up the misunderstanding before it took on a life of it's own.

The passage in question was clear enough when taken in context with the rest of the column. If, however,readers merely skimmed what was written to find fault with my fault finding, they could hardly be expected to possess the critical thinking skills needed to fully comprehend that which is written well above the fourth grade level. It also explains how anyone could have read something that simply wasn't there.

According to the Mayor, my offending verbiage was found at the end of the fourth paragraph. I quote, "Just as Iran and North Korea did not appreciate being called evil, I'm certain Americans who use recreational drugs were in no way cowed by Dubya's empty rhetoric. In fact I would suggest most of these folks now consider smoking a joint or dropping ecstasy a fitting way to protest American foreign policy." End quote.

Upon review, I must admit that I am guilty of using nuanced languaging. Perhaps it should have read; "In fact, I would suggest, that because of this transparent attempt at propaganda, some teenagers would see drug use as a fitting way to protest America's ongoing war against "evil." Having been a teenager myself, I understand how important it is to challenge authority, and other well meaning adults, armed with self serving half truths. It's the nature of the beast.

Where I won't retract my original statement, I do offer clarification as to insure communication as it was intended, not perceived. I also think it is important to calm the fears of those readers who feel their agenda comes before my first amendment rights. Freedom of speech is so important to me I will take this opportunity to go on record regarding drugs, both legal and illegal.

In no way would I ever suggest that young people start using drugs. More to the point, the best thing a person can do is find away to get through life without any messy vices or addictions. I also suggest if you are using illegal drugs your find a way to stop, before they stop you. Believe me when I say this, as I have lost friends, some living, some dead, to drugs. One friend, and I use that term more out of habit and shared memories,allowed drugs to transform her from a beautiful young women to a frightening paranoidschizophrenic, covered in scabs and scars from self mutilation, in less than five years. No, I do not encourage anyone to use drugs of any kind.

Once again, so it is perfectly clear, let me say this in the most simplistic way possible, I do not encourage anyone to do drugs. They are a waste of time, money, brain cells, and potential. Because ignorance is also a drug, I also encourage everyone to avoid the crap currently being dished out by our warlord in chief. As the Afghani people can testify, it's lethal.

If there is a revolution coming, and I believe there is, it can only be won we with a clear head and a sober commitment to the truth. So, in the spirit of complete disclosure, I will end with a partial list of things I in no way encourage the consumption of: heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, crack, methamphetamine, marijuana, alcohol, Ritalin, Viagra, Prozac, Pepsi, Coke, milk, cheese, beef, poultry, pork, veal, eggs, cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and anything from Mc Donald's.

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