Celeb The Rickster
posted by August 15 at 11:40 AMon
PBS’s affable man of travel, Rick Steves, will be speaking at Hempfest this weekend (Saturday and Sunday in Myrtle Edwards Park). His standard rap about reforming pot laws is pretty mind-blowing coming from such a strait-laced celebrity. I called Steves in Brussels last week to ask how his crusade is going, whether he’s pissed KOMO wouldn’t run his television show, and what’s up with the pot movementís image problem. The full web-exclusive interview is over here.
On Hempfest and his pot-smokiní church pals:
You can go to church with 300 people and think you are the only person who smokes pot because nobody will talk about it in that venue. I have friends at my church who smoke pot and it is so fun to have that sort of silent support group.
One great thing about Hempfest is getting 80,000 people together who believe that smoking a soft drug is a civil liberty. It encourages you to realize you are far from alone.
I’ve been in Holland for the past week, and just marveling at looking out over the square at breakfast. People were biking to work and biking their kids to daycare, and there’s a policeman standing there monitoring, keeping the peace. Everybody cares about neighborhoods and their security. And two blocks over, there are prostitutes trying to lure guys into their little rooms, and over at that coffee shop they have 10 different kinds joints out, all rolled up and laid out like little Pez dispensers. Everybody works together and lives together and… it can be a little more tolerant. People can have a few more individual liberties and still live in densely populated situations, they don’t have anywhere near the same amount of incarceration and violence we have in the United States.
On his business:
Well, if someone hears me talk about drug policy and then says he is not going to go to Europe with me, deep down in my heart I celebrate. Because I think Europe will be better off without him.
Curiously, people are most offended not by me taking a political stance, but by the fact that I would take a stance that could hurt my business. They find that really offensive to American profit-maximizing sensibilities.
You think of all my pot-smoking friends who don’t go to Hempfest because it’s not their culture. Ö I walked with my wife the length of Hempfest and it really scared her. It was a freak show to her. It shouldn’t be traumatizing for a person who is inclined to agree with the decriminalization movement to walk through Hempfest.
So remember, folks, if you have a tie dye, be sure to set it on fire before going to Hempfest. Iíll be speaking there, and I may even wear this shirt again.