Know Your Place, Shut Your Face.


Last week, in hopes of providing some much needed publicity for IR-124, I sent the following letter to the editor to 28 small town newspapers in Eastern Montana.  

During Montana’s 2011 legislative session, 113 of our elected representatives, in direct contradiction of the expressed will of 62% of the people, imposed their personal social agenda on the rest of Montana by approving a repeal of Montana’s medical marijuana law. The lawmakers, after neglecting in several sessions to draft thoughtful reform legislation, approved Sen Jeff Essmann’s 33 page repeal bill and proudly announced to the 276,042 Montana voters who approved the state’s original law (I-148) that they were simply fulfilling voter intent.  To combat this legislative action, the IR-124 campaign was launched. If successful, Montana voters will have the opportunity in 2012 to vote on this unpopular- and recently ruled unconstitutional- piece of legislation. 

What happened to the will of the people?  This is an opportunity to assert your rights as a Montana citizen.  A legislative repeal of a citizens initiative sets a dangerous precedent and regardless of how Montanans actually feel about medical marijuana, it is difficult to understand how ANY could argue against empowering voters by allowing them to choose the fate of the law.  Time will tell whether this was or wasn’t what Montanans voted for, but “voter intent” should be decided by voters. 

If you are interested in helping with our efforts, would like to sign the petition, or desire more information, we’d love to hear from you. Visit our website, patientsforreform.org,   call Randy or Darcy Warburton, (trained Sheridan County petitioners) at406.580.5046 or me at  406.208.0204

While some of the editors responded almost immediately to express their interest and willingness to print the letter, others, not surprisingly; said nothing. For those of you who may not know, I grew up in Sheridan County, Montana (where you can see both Canada and North Dakota from your porch) and earlier this week, I accepted a job offer and moved somewhat reluctantly to Plentywood.  While I’m happy to be closer to my family, I am not looking forward to the harsh realities of life up here- like the brutal winters and the ever-present small town ignorance.  Which takes me back to my letter….

I’ve written a few letters to the editor in my life and although mine have virtually always been printed, I’ve learned a bit about the process through the years… most newspapers have a few guidelines, many have a word limit- often 250 or less- and most require authentication of the letter- either via call, email, or letter.  I know most of the people who work for the local newspaper, The Sheridan County News, so it wasn’t surprising to hear that the newspaper had refused to sell ad space to a caregiver on several occasions.  Although I don’t necessarily approve of such policies, I gave the management the benefit of the doubt and attempted to convince myself that  their decisions were based on their ignorant self-righteousness, not a conscious desire to foster propaganda.  Yesterday, a couple of my friends asked Joe Nistler, the editor of the newspaper, if he planned to run the letter.  His response was that he was NOT going to run it because-and I QUOTE- “we already have enough potheads in this county”.   Although I admit that Nistler is HARDLY considered influential by anyone, his thinly veiled attempts to influence readers subtly with headlines- like “Big Rigger Writes Own Songs” and “Roads Here Tested by Big Rigs”… yes, I see a small pattern developing,  indicate that Mr Nistler is likely a spineless epitome of cowardice who occasionally gets an ego boost from wielding a bit of judgment those he considers immoral- or something. Perhaps his actions aren’t malicious.  Perhaps he genuinely desires to save us all from ourselves. I’m far more concerned about saving myself from our government and protecting my daughter from this sort of pervasive ignorance.  Most weeks,, the newspaper contains  at least one kitschy “Remember when….” post, a macro shot of some fetching young lentils, or a collection of boring  images from decades ago… in addition to the primary reason many current and former Sheridan County residents still subscribe to the weekly newspaper…. that’s right, the police blotter, where the accused are proven instantly guilty through the court of public opinion, whether or not they were convicted of their alleged crimes.  

I find it sad that some of the staff at the Sheridan County News, who by the very nature of their field, should be first amendment crusaders,  are not only unwilling to print opinion pieces contrasting their own, they apparently have no interest in allowing their readers to weigh the facts and decide for themselves. My letter to the editor wasn’t promoting drug use- I’m not a patient nor do I use marijuana recreationally.  I simply recognize tyranny when I see it and I have no problem calling out my own party.  Sheridan County, with the rest of Montana, deserves an opportunity to make an informed decision. It is disappointing that the morality enforcement division of the local newspaper doesn’t trust their own friends and family to vote properly after being armed with the facts.  The SCOTUS as well as state Supreme Courts recognize that there is no more purer form of free speech than gathering signatures, refusing to cover our campaign- regardless of personal opinions on cannabis- indicates a vacuum of journalistic integrity. 

*It is worth noting that although we certainly aren’t  in competition,  the weekly and often the DAILY circulation of  montanafesto (which is less than a year old) is higher than the weekly circulation of the Sheridan County News.  Perhaps I will start running obituaries and a police blotter on the blog, readership would certainly skyrocket as the self-righteous tend to feed on the tragedies of others.


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8 thoughts on “Know Your Place, Shut Your Face.

  1. That was a great piece of work. Sure hope that editor of the paper gets a chance to read it as well as any other editors that are following in his footsteps. Good luck with your new job.

  2. Great letter. I’m not surprised it didn’t get printed. We are a ‘scourge’. The Billings Gazette is horrible for their class of journalism.
    Now they are trying to charge for online content.

  3. First of all, congratulations on your new job. Plentywood is a great community – weather notwithstanding.

    I know that you and I have completely different opinions on this issue and neither of us is likely to change or convince the other to change. That being said, you have to understand that 62% of the voters did NOT vote for what has become a huge abuse of medical marijuana – and a huge problem throughout the state. I think what you are finding out is that, outside of a very vocal and activist group, most Montanans would probably have voted to reject the initiative if they knew then what they know now.

    I don’t think anybody’s crazy about SB423 – but I wouldn’t bet my beer money that IR124 will be successful. You have a major challenge in front of you.

    • Wise words. Too bad the “vocal minority” can’t see that. They’ll be lucky if the injunction holds up to the supreme court challenge.

  4. I wonder if you sent this to the Daniels County Leader and if so what their response was? I’m betting the Bowlers have a different attitude, at least I hope so. My in-laws are from West Dakota as well so I’ve been a 30 year Leader reader and have enjoyed it a lot. I miss the old Poop who used to pen the Editors comments but Roz and the rest of the Leader “family” have done him proud and the paper continues as one of the best in the Northwest if not the nation. Most of the folks up there are like that-you can find a bigot or two anywhere you look but I really do believe most of these rock ribbed Lutherans and Episcopalians are not falling for the LDS Propaganda program being run around the state. It’s no surprise all forms of Government are fighting us on this but the amount of effort being expended trying to prevent our signature gathering just goes to prove how worried anti-Cannabis activists are. They know we have the people on our side! Thanks for another fine blog!

    • You are right indeed, Robert. The Daniels County Leader printed it without hesitation, as did the Wolf Point Herald. I am not sure about the other ones though, I sent it off to a long list of small newspapers. From the way some react to a request to gather signatures at events, one would think we were trying to legalize child rape.

      • Yea, it’s a pain in the ass here in Billings. I’m concerned because I know my 1st Amendment rights & have no fear of confrontation. Some signature gatherers don’t know or will think they are in the wrong.

        I heard the Commie Mommies are going to run an ad against us. Wonder what new lie they came up with now? I’ve commented before ‘Damn it, its not like its for the return of polygamy’. Wonder when they try that.

        Farmers Market messed with some of us, so I set up a table right next to an entrance. We got 55 on Sat. morning.

        I made this quote my mantra “It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.
        Samuel Adams

        BTW mentioning how SB423 is a doorstep to Communism helps people decide to vote on it. I’ve had two dozen people mention Essmann in hate and/or disgust.

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