The Durham 500: Pulling the plug on molly (and music)
Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 02:10
I am extremely reluctant to discuss this topic this week and I debated myself on the matter for quite some time. The notion of “too soon?” served as my psychological roadblock. The truth is, I author this column to present facts and my consequent opinions on hot topics around campus and the greater collegiate community. Alas, I preface this write-up by offering my deepest and most sincere sympathy to everyone who has ever been adversely affected (emotionally, mentally, physically, socially or otherwise) by the use of recreational drugs like “molly.” Whether it is your own use or a friend’s use, illegal narcotic or not, my offer remains. After all, we are members of the demographic in first place when it comes to the contest of curiosity and experimentation: college kids. With being the frontrunners in that race come some tragically unfortunate consequences, as some of us may know all too well. It’s an unfortunate way of the world.
Last Thursday, the University of Massachusetts Amherst sent out an email to all students informing them of the cancellations of two upcoming electronic dance shows scheduled for October. The university’s decision comes just two weeks after cancelling yet another EDM show scheduled for mid-September. University officials overtly blame the seemingly hand-in-hand relationship between the electronic dance movement and the use of molly for needing to make this decision, which would help “[continue to create] a safe and positive environment that encourages and cultivates good decision-making.”
“Good decision-making?” This is where they lose me.
What about John Smith? You know, that UMass freshman kid who camped out overnight to secure a ticket to September’s “The Return to Fantazia” to be held at UMass’s equivalent of The Whitt (well, two Whitts). This is the kid who had planned on spending time in the library in the hours leading up to the show just so he could attend the event without any guilt for taking the night off of studying for Monday’s exam. This is the kid who planned on going with a group of close friends to enjoy a remarkable light show paired with live, loud, digitally mastered, musical mayhem. This is the kid who wasn’t going to pop molly that night.
Admittedly, I don’t know the number or percentage that illustrates just how many of those sardines that would have packed themselves into UMass’s Mullins Center would have actually been under the influence of MDMA; my point is that the statistic doesn’t actually matter.
At the end of the day, the scheduled shows were not druggie-infested, molly-promoting rallies. They were concerts. Musical performances.
I am not the world’s biggest EDM fan – in fact, I think a lot of it is cheap, chintzy, recycled nonsense (but not you, Avicii. I don’t care what they say. “Levels” will never die). But to say that the electronic music scene “encourages and cultivates [poor] decision-making and a [negative] environment,” is to say that country music encourages drinking moonshine and engaging in miscellaneous sexual escapades, and thus, should be banned from the lineup of potential live entertainment on university campuses.
I am not up in arms about UMass’ decision. I can appreciate that, statistically, there seems to be a very real correlation between live electronic shows and the consumption of molly and other dangerous empathogenic drugs.
For UMass, maybe it was a no-brainer: electronic shows equal the use of molly which equals death which yields a major dip in the campus community’s overall health and negative national attention.
I just think that this is a bit of a generational recurrence. Network television cameramen were once told to shoot Elvis from the waist up; that shiny, black leather was far too revealing for a 1968 American family’s TV room. But culture evolves. Today, “Pop a molly, I’m sweatin’” is the new “I’m all shook up.” So much so that UMass will be hosting Trinidad James (coiner of our generation’s new favorite phrase and arguably molly’s biggest spokesperson) in lieu of the previously scheduled artists. No, I’m not kidding.
If UMass’ decision saved the life of one curious college student, it would have been worth the disappointment of the once-sold out crowd eagerly awaiting Pretty Light’s pretty lights; unfortunately only hindsight is 20/20. The fact is, the people who would have indulged in the drug at these shows are the same people who will indulge in it without the concert venue.
I respect the decision of the university administration, as I am sure that it was made with good intentions. But as a champion of self-accountability and a confiding fellow Generation Y-er who thinks that we’re capable of making our own decisions and of being responsible for our bad ones, I say the show must go on.