There's a particular mistake almost everyone makes when either reading or reporting the news: acting like all of the stuff going on is new. Gay marriage, worldwide terrorism, international-banking crises -- the fallout and debate surrounding many of our most newsworthy events is almost always portrayed as symptoms of the modern world. But if you owned a time machine and took a tour of the past, you'd see the same shit coming up over and over again. For instance ...
5 Same-Sex Marriage Was Legal Centuries Ago
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The whole argument against gay marriage is that, after tens of thousands of years of "one man and one woman," suddenly these homosexuals want to totally turn this marriage thing on its head. What better symbol of 21st-century debauchery than this brand-new concept of legalizing marriages between two people with matching genitals? What's next, marriage between a man and a dog? Or between a dog and a zombie? Hold on, we have a sitcom to pitch.
But If You Go Back In Time ...
Set your time machine back just a few hundred years and you'd probably be surprised -- maybe horrified, if you're on the board of directors for Chick-Fil-A -- about just how many gay-married couples were running around in various places, remaining un-harassed by government agencies.
That would explain why the paintings look like Rainbow Marches.
In medieval Europe, which people mostly regard as the most prudish period in human history, same-sex marriage was pretty normal right up until the 1300s. The Christian church allowed them even if they preferred to dance around the sexual implications by referring to them as "spiritual brotherhoods." It wasn't until Byzantine Emperor Andronicus II outlawed gay marriage in 1302 that we decided that such a thing would surely ruin society if allowed.
In Africa, a 19th-century Nigerian woman named Ifeyinwa Olinke is well known for having a harem of nine wives (and one husband -- feel free to imagine what the sex looked like, you perv). And among the Nuer people of South Sudan, marriages between women are common, and if one of the women has children from a previous sperm donation, the other woman is unambiguously regarded to be the new "father."
"She loves it when I call her 'Big Poppa.'"
And speaking of laws that come and go in seemingly arbitrary cycles ...
4 Marijuana Was Legal Until 1937
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After hundreds of years of resistance, the U.S. government is finally starting to realize that millions of law-abiding citizens partake in marijuana (aka reefer, Mary Joanna, the devil weed, goofy grass, Satan's Cigarette -- we only made some of those up). Recent decisions on the legalization of marijuana have been lauded as victories against the end-boss of freedom across the Western world. Finally, the world is waking up from these ancient taboos!
But If You Go Back In Time ...
And we're talking way back on this one. According to archaeologists, marijuana was first used as medicine in China as far back as around 4000 B.C. and was legal for most of its history, only being criminalized for the first time in 1378 by the Ottoman Emir Soudoun Scheikhouni. Despite the emir's efforts, marijuana remained largely legal outside of the Ottoman Empire and was only sporadically criminalized. So how did we end up with this whole situation where we're having a discussion about legalization? Because of the good old U.S. of A. Well, that and Mexico.
It all started with the Mexican revolution, which lasted from 1910 to 1920.
The civil war in Mexico resulted in an influx of over a million refugees into the U.S. This, combined with violent spillovers of their civil war, an agricultural recession in the USA, and increased tension resulting from earlier disputes between the two, lead to a "brown scare," which is even more gross than what you're imagining when you hear that term.
As the Mexican immigrants brought recreational marijuana use with them, marijuana was conflated with already-existing prejudice and fear toward Mexicans, which was further fed by William Randolph Hearst, who wanted hemp out of business to further his lumber and paper interests. A slew of studies were produced linking marijuana with violent crime and all sorts of other undesirable behavior, helping to finally get pot criminalized in 1937, thus making the free world drug-free forever.
A CG re-creation of what scientists believe the plant may have looked like.
And on the flipside of that scenario ...