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Davis, California

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Column: Judging Mary Jane

Toward the end of last school year, there were several instances of what I imagined to be the smell of burning rubber tires seeping through my dorm windows. The odor would creep in and out, floating along the summer breeze. Each wave of the smell was cringe-worthy.

It wasn’t until a few nights after the initial instance when I realized the improbability of even college students burning tires in the middle of the night. Davis may not have that much to do, but burning rubber tires seemed like something that would be toward the end of the wild-things-to-do-when-there’s-nothing-better-to-do list.

A friend from the room next door then told me that the source of the smell was coming from one of our floor mates. He had been smoking marijuana, especially during midterms and finals season. He needed weed to stay focused and awake.

I always thought the reason he couldn’t focus and stay awake to study was because 1) he was up all night smoking Mary Jane, and 2) his brain was getting high and clogged up from it.

When someone does something illegal like smoking marijuana, there’s always an excuse to try to justify doing it. Excuses range from studying for finals to acting out of curiosity.

This happened when a younger friend randomly texted me an incoherent message. The jumbled words went back and forth in my head a few times until I ignored them altogether.

The next night, he tries telling me in a roundabout way that for the first time, he had sniffed marijuana (and it was a big sniff, too). But before he half-confesses and I half-guess, he makes this all too common statement: “Don’t judge me.”

There was the cue to judge him. Whenever someone says “don’t judge me,” it really means they’re about to reveal something they did and something that’s worth judging. It’s just the defenses kicking in.

While he explained how everyone tries smoking weed at least once and how everything just became really funny, I couldn’t help but judge him. This was one of the least likely people I know to just try something for the sake of it.

But it’s not like I jumped to conclusions and took action against him based on my judgment of the situation. It’s like what my professor says: “It’s okay to judge, but it’s what you do with that judgment.”

Saying “don’t judge me” suggests that judging someone is unjustified or voluntary, neither of which are true. The preconceived notions are there. When you’re doing something illegal, you’re doing something illegal. There are reasons why there are certain things you aren’t allowed to do, and when you do them, the judging is bound to kick in from others.

It’s up to others to decide how they want to act upon their judgment. The person being judged has already acted, so the only thing that leaves is the response.

Thinking that someone is immature for falling under pressure and trying something illegal just out of curiosity is justifiable. However, having those thoughts and then refusing to associate with the person or acting pretentiously is not.

When it comes down to it, though, it doesn’t matter what you do; people are always going to be judging you. It’s just human nature. The excuses are harder to make when the actions are illegal.

Don’t bother saying “don’t judge me,” because actions and judging come hand-in-hand.

TIFFANY LEW thinks there are way too many names for marijuana. E-mail her at tjlew@ucdavis.edu if you’d like to share some more.

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