Mill & Hash Bash
Every year, thousands of people gather during the first weekend of April in Ann Arbor to celebrate the tradition of Hash Bash. Individuals of different ages, backgrounds and beliefs gather in support of the legalization of marijuana. This controversial event has taken place since 1973 and has drawn wide attention to the issue.
Throughout his writing, Mill supports a broad freedom of expression in society and encourages individuals to engage in “experiments of living.” However, he treats this freedom as a duty rather than an excuse for individuals to act recklessly. Mill believes that individuals should test their own beliefs to improve themselves as well as society. To relate Mill to Hash Bash, I think the argument could be made both ways regarding Mill’s response to the tradition of Hash Bash.
Mill focuses on the effects individuals or groups of individuals can have on society and recognizes thats society can progress from testing bad “hypotheses.” Even if Mill hypothetically opposed the principle of Hash Bash, would he support its practice since it could be considered an “experiment of living?” Would Mill consider something that has lasted for 40 years to still be an “experiment?” Or, would he believe Hash Bash to be an example of an enduring attempt to protest laws in society?
Although Hash Bash takes place on the University of Michigan campus, it’s obvious when walking around that a large portion of people in attendance are not college students. Although some people attend Hash Bash to legitimately protest current laws regarding marijuana use, many people use it as an excuse to smoke in public. Seeing high school age kids wander around the Diag makes you wonder whether they are “cultivating” themselves through this experience.
Mill believes that the freedom of expression imposes a duty on individuals to test and improve their own beliefs, and in turn this experimental process will benefit society. So, even if Mill believed legalizing marijuana would not positively impact society, testing the legalization of marijuana (and therefore protesting it) could help society in the long run. When it comes down to whether or not Mill would support Hash Bash, I believe the base argument is if Mill would believe the use of marijuana encourages self-cultivation or if it is a destructive component to society.