No toking in these tropics
This column isn’t for everyone. I’m writing about something serious. I know some of you are going to disagree with me, but I’m hoping a lot of you will feel the way I do.
So let me narrow my audience right now. If you have ever smoked marijuana and think it’s an enjoyable, pretty much harmless way to get high ” keep reading. This column is meant for you.
If you’ve smoked marijuana and maybe didn’t really enjoy it, but still think it’s mostly harmless ” keep reading.
And even if you’ve never smoked marijuana, even if you think it’s a bad thing and ought to be illegal, but you consider smoking marijuana to be less evil than, for example, murder or terrorism ” keep reading, this column is still meant for you.
The rest of you, the (hopefully) small number who consider marijuana more evil than murder ” you can stop right now and move on to some other part of the paper.
Now that we’ve narrowed the audience, here’s what I need to say:
In fact, boycott all of Indonesia.
If you’re a traveler, don’t go there. If you’re a travel agent, don’t send your clients there. If you’re a businessman, don’t invest there.
And, please, spread the word.
Starting today, do not send one cent of your money or one iota of your personal energy to Bali.
Many of you will already know what I am talking about. In case you don’t, here’s what’s going on:
Last week, a young Australian woman was sentenced to 20 years in jail ” I repeat, 20 years ” for attempting to smuggle about 9 pounds of marijuana into Bali.
We should note that the 20-year sentence was officially “lenient.” Bali allows the death penalty for smuggling marijuana ” indeed, the prosecutor has said he will appeal her sentence and try to get a harsher one, life imprisonment, at least.
And perhaps this is the place to mention Abu Bakar Bashir, the Muslim cleric who was convicted of being behind the 2002 terrorist bombing in Bali that killed more than 200 people. He was sentenced to 30 months in jail ” 30 months. Apparently, in the Indonesian system of justice, murdering 200 people in a terrorist bombing is a far less serious crime than attempting to carry 9 pounds of marijuana into the country.
Now, here’s the thing: There’s not much we can really do about this savage mess.
Indonesia is a sovereign country. It has a right to pass and enforce its own laws. Vile as this sentence may be, it isn’t something that justifies an act of war.
Quite honestly, there are laws in the United States that offend people around the world and criminal sentences imposed here have raised international outrage. As a nation we sneer at that outrage, just as Indonesia can sneer at our outrage now.
But that does not mean we have to smile, shrug and accept what has happened.
There’s not much that we can do, but we can, at least, refuse to send ourselves or our money to that country. I understand the arguments against boycotts. Some people are already saying that a boycott of Bali would only hurt innocent people trying to make a living and would leave the judges and the justice system untouched.
That may be partly true, but Indonesia is a parliamentary democracy. They elect their president; they elect their representatives. The people and their representatives should be able to respond to a painful expression of international disapproval.
We sent hundreds of millions of dollars to Indonesia in aid after the recent tsunami. We have shown our concern for the people of that nation. Now we need to be able to show our disapproval of their wretched system of justice.
I know it’s difficult to rouse people to action on behalf of fair marijuana laws. Bali is one of those official tropical paradises where dope smokers love to go. It would be far too easy ” and far too typical ” for stoners to find themselves at the Bali airport saying, “Huh? Dude? Weren’t we supposed to not … or something … or … huh?”
But we can’t do that. There are other paradises to visit.