Opt-ical Illusions

Bruce Apar is Editorial Director + Associate Publisher of River Journal North

Author’s Note: Mom + Pop Culture are a couple of real characters. They could be you and me. Or not. Every so often, I eavesdrop on their conversations. Let’s listen in on what they’re saying right now about Westchester municipalities opting in and out of their minds.


POP CULTURE: Mom, where do you stand on this Opt Out and Opt In stuff?

MOM CULTURE: I stand with Opt for Justice. POP: In or Out? MOM: For Justice!

POP: Sure, we all want Justice. MOM: Not the people who want to Opt In.

POP: Some folks think Opting Out is a cop-out.

MOM: Marijuana is a gateway drug. POP: You’re against it because you’ve seen proof it’s a gateway drug?

MOM: Don’t need proof. POP: Oh, I get it. You’re just glibly saying it’s a gateway drug because you’re predisposed to oppose it and gateway drug is the buzzword du jour for Opt-Outers

MOM: It’s a gateway. A one-way ticket to a ruined life. No two ways about it. POP: You mean if cannabis didn’t exist, hard-core users never would become addicted to cocaine and heroine and opioids?

MOM: Of course they would. POP: Then how is it a gateway if they’d find another way.

MOM: And your point is … POP: It’s not the drug. It’s the drug user with an addictive personality. Alcohol doesn’t create alcoholics. Guns don’t create murderers. The people who abuse those agents would find another way to satisfy their pathology.

MOM: If cannabis is not a gateway, why can they stop people from opening stores to sell it and stop their constituents from buying it in those stores? POP: That’s a good question. Towns have every right to be upset with Albany. It puts them in a Hobson’s Choice position.

MOM: A what? POP: It means there is no meaningful choice. Opt-Out is an optical illusion. It just kicks the can down the road.

MOM: It’s so confusing. Why are the pro-business politicians I like to vote for opposed to new businesses opening to sell marijuana?

POP: Why do some people get animated when talking about their freedom not to wear a mask but want to stop other people from exercising their freedom to buy a perfectly legal good?

MOM: That sounds like a … what do they call that again?

POP Double standard?

MOM: I have a headache. Is it happy hour yet? POP: What a coincidence. My watch says it’s exactly cocktail o’clock. What’s your pleasure, my dear? MOM: You know, silly. POP: Two double martinis coming right up!

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About the Author: Bruce Apar