American Weed; Sex For Sale

The GOP primary presidential candidacy of Ron Paul this year has brought libertarian thinking as far to the forefront as it’s ever been in my nearly six decades of living. While I find the notion of unfettered capitalism chillingly fearful, I do get the appeal of its focus on individual freedom to those who might otherwise fall to the left side in politics. Two recent National Geographic Channel TV shows look at issues of personal freedom and the law plus economic factors in revealing ways.

TV Series: American Weed – Medicinal marijuana is one of the major personal choice issues of our day. This show takes a micro rather than macro look at it by focusing on the ultimately successful ballot initiative in Fort Collins, Colo., to ban marijuana dispensaries and the people on both sides of the fight. Growing and selling marijuana as a medicine has been legal in the state for a decade now. Yes, it’s a financial boon for those who grow and sell it, and in tough economic times there’s something to be said for that. But as political forces align against them, it’s almost sad to see how their naiveté is trumped by the opposition. A similar observation can be also be made about those shown here who grow it for personal use yet don’t follow the strictures of doing so legally, although the police who bust them at least seems to take a fair and respectful approach with those who break those laws. On the other hand, you have the spearhead of the anti-dispensary movement whose beliefs about marijuana and supposed “facts” he cites don’t exactly conform to reality. Some four-plus decades after the 1960s counterculture brought pot into the American mainstream, the struggle to place it in proper societal and legal context still rages even as acceptance of it and the movement toward decriminalization and even legal consumption makes progress. The best case is made here by the users shown – from many walks of life and some hardly stoned-out hipsters – and how it helps them with physical ailments and conditions. And as far as reality shows go, this one does have an almost documentary feel of real life.

TV Documentary: Sex For Sale: American Escort – Like American Weed, this show also looks at just a slice of the very big pie of sexual commerce by exploring the matter at ground zero of the domestic sex trade: Las Vegas. On the one hand, it looks at an independent escort who makes a persuasive case for her freedom to use her body and sexuality as she chooses, and for financial gain. Flipping the coin, it also delves into the thriving escort agencies that skirt the law to provide a service for which there is obviously a high demand. Yet at the same time it shows the exploitation and even abuse exacted by the agencies and pimps, which does taint any case in favor of decriminalizing the sex trade. It provides no easy answers as to how our modern society should deal with the world’s oldest profession in way that might be better than matters currently are. It’s another criminal activity and cultural issue in need of serious examination, reflection and reconsideration. And this show provides a good unbiased view of the business of sex as it operates today.

Rob Patterson is a music and entertainment writer in Austin, Texas. Email orca@prismnet.com.

From The Progressive Populist, June 15, 2012


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