Pflanzt Hanf

On our last day in Vienna, we're unexpectedly treated to a protest march coming down Mariahilferstrasse. Apparently, hemp liberation transcends national boundaries. They've got several huge honkin sound trucks, a joint thirty feet long, and, inexplicably, a Hemp Train.

It's a little hard to see in the photos, but a lot of the protesters are wearing Stars of David with the word "Hanf" inside, which strikes me as doubly disturbing. First, there's the inappropriateness of the symbolism, the questionable choice of analogy. All in all, I'm in favor of hemp legalization, but I don't particularly like the hemp legalization movement -- mostly because of this tendency to elevate the issue to the same ethical and political status as genocide (or poverty, human rights, aut al.)

There's also the issue of the consonantal combination "nf." Along with such glorious pairings as "pfl" and "mk" (from "Pimkie," the name of a store we pass several times), it's one of those clusters that's perfectly pronouncable, yet more or less alien to English. In its way, "nf" is stranger than the the profusion of diacritical marks we'll find in Hungary or the Czech "rzh" our guidebook tells us not to even bother trying to pronounce.