A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece about outrage culture on the Internet, a sort of warning to those who would devote too much time to being outraged over the actions of others on social media. In the piece I also pointed out the rather obvious fact that there are some things that rise to the level of causing justifiable outrage. In fact, we see these things every day – which is all the more reason to save our energy for the events that truly deserve it.
By now many of you have seen the video below, in which law enforcement searches the room of a Missouri man suffering from stage 4 pancreatic cancer in the hopes of finding marijuana.
Posted by Nolan's Tribe of Warriors Against Cancer on Wednesday, March 6, 2019
According to police, they received a call about the smell of marijuana in the hospital room of Nolan Sousley. In the video, they can be seen searching Sousley’s bags as he explains to them that he uses THC capsules to treat his cancer. The officers come across as indifferent to Sousley’s plight, to say the least.
Video of a cancer patient being treated like a criminal over marijuana obviously caught a lot of attention in the cannabis community and beyond. As of this writing, the Facebook video has been viewed almost 700,000 times.
Outrage and condemnation have come from all corners of the Internet, and for good reason. Raw footage of grown men who are supposed to be serving and protecting the public instead searching through the personal belongings of a dying man looking for plant matter disgusted many.
“Why can’t I do what I want to do?” Sousley asked at one point. “It’s my choice.”
Which brings us to a point I make more than any other in all my writing and video-casting: When we decided as a society that it was okay for lawmakers to pass laws that criminalize people for doing things that don’t infringe on the rights of anyone else, we made a grave mistake. When we decided that someone’s opinion on the morality of what someone else is doing should have the force of law behind it, we crossed a line that we desperately need to get back behind.
As outrageous as it seems, what the police did in that video is what we have trained them to do: enforce laws of morality on people we have never even met. Could they have chosen not to? Probably. Is the “we are just doing our jobs” excuse lame at best and genocidally dangerous at worst? Most certainly. But this is a monster we have had a hand in creating.
One last thing: There are probably many readers currently taking umbrage with my use of the word “we” when talking about decisions society has made. “It wasn’t me who allowed this,” they will say, while casting disapproving looks and thoughts at others. But if you stand by and accept government overreach in any aspect of your daily life, you really can’t complain when they take that liberty in other aspects.
Yes, we are all individuals and can’t take responsibility for all the horrors that are done in our name by governments. Many things are often out of our hands. But at some point, we have to admit to ourselves that if we demand a government that takes care of us and our responsibilities, it will also be powerful enough to disregard our individuality in pursuit of what is currently deemed best for the collective – no matter what the costs.