San Francisco is a rough place to be a progressive these days. The city has become so progressive that military recruiters who once championed the party line of “don’t ask, don’t tell” now line up with people marching in the gay pride parade. Activists have staked other possible issues as well. Everything from income inequality to the homeless to workers rights to global warming has a group waving signs and chanting on the streets.
It can be difficult to outdo the activists who block the path of Google buses that take its workers to Silicon Valley. There’s a group that multi-tasks for the homeless and unwanted pets as well. They give the homeless a small stipend to care for the unwanted pets which otherwise would be bound for the animal version of lethal injection. Another group goes around putting warning labels on gasoline pumps, warning others that fossil fuel heats up global warming. Think cigarette warning labels meets unleaded.
Recycling is pretty much covered. The city banned plastic bags beginning with grocery stores in pharmacies. That was back in 2007 when the idea was radical. Retail shops and restaurants were convinced to switch to brown paper bags in 2013.
Pollution? It’s covered. San Francisco hosts an annual “Spare the Air” day when it’s unlawful to burn wood in the fireplace. Not that you can burn it anywhere else either on that day.
Being naked in public will still raise the eyebrows, but progressives have nudity covered, so to speak. There was recently a couple who got hitched at City Hall, naked. Later, they told a television reporter that it was just their way of protesting the city’s “antiquated laws” regarding baring the flesh.
City council got tired of protests from city workers, so now it’s reviewing a proposal that would give city employees the right to make their work schedule flexible so as to accommodate their lifestyle.
Sometimes it seems that the activists in San Francisco just get in each others’ way. The panhandlers and pups program triggered a protest from animal rights activist who worried that the foster dogs might end up being mistreated.
One enterprising activist has scoped out an unused cause though. Crack heads. While the city has long provided for clean hypodermic needles for heroin users, crack addicts have, well, fallen through the cracks. Taking a clue from progressives in Vancouver, Canada, activists want to start distributing clean crack pipes.
Isaac Jackson with the Urban Survivors Network, came up with the idea. Isaac is also the same gentlemen who shows up in a YouTube video about the drug war. “The drug war is a big hindrance to my freedom,” Jackson says in the video.
Jackson resents the drug war telling him what he can do with his body, even though his body says what he’s doing is OK, most of the time. Jackson goes on to say that it’s a drag when people he doesn’t know tell him when he should get high.
Jackson admits to being a former crack smoker. He has given up crack though for intravenous drug use. The recently told reporters that the pipe giveaway would not only prevent cut lips, but also cut down on the spread of Hepatitis C and other contagious disease.
At first, the city seemed willing to at least look at the idea. Recently, though, the top health official in town, Barbara Garcia, told a reporter that there was no way that the city would distribute crack pipes.
In typical activists fashion, Jackson has said that he will continue with plans for the pipe giveaway despite the possibility of violating laws related to the possession of drug paraphernalia. Planning on starting in March, close to Hemlock Alley and Polk Street, Jackson says he has one donor who has contributed seed money.
He’s also looking for other funding sources as well. With a little luck, crack addicts in San Francisco might have a new source of clean crack pipes.
By Jerry Nelson