September 13, 2020
How The Drug War Killed Andy Gibbby Ballard Quass
When Andy Gibb died in 1988 due to a heart attack, America and the world took this as a knock-down argument that the cocaine he had been using at the time was an evil drug in the worst sense of that word. It was the height of Drug War mania, after all, and everyone knew that some substances were pure evil: namely those substances that politicians had decided to demonize.
Of course, cocaine was only a proximate cause of Gibb's death: the real cause was the fact that the Drug War villainized substances rather than educating potential users about how to use them safely. But for the Drug Warrior, Andy's death was just another opportunity to show Americans that criminalized substances can only cause evil.
Until the Drug War began in 1914 with the effective outlawing of a plant (in violation of the natural law upon which America was founded) all intelligent people knew that psychoactive substances - everything from chocolate to belladonna - were good or bad only with respect to how they were used. If a substance caused an unwanted death, then the fault was to be found in a lack of knowledge about the way to use that substance wisely, not in the supposed evil nature of the substance itself.
Besides, the Drug War took not just one, but two steps to ensure Andy's death: first it failed to educate him (and the world) about the proper use of cocaine (as in, keep an eye on your blood pressure while using it!), and then it compounded this mistake by outlawing all the psychoactive substances that Andy might have used instead as a less heart-thumping alternative, were Andy seeking, as we all do at times, an escape from "full-on reality" and excessive introspection.
Consider the absurd result of this Drug Warrior view on psychoactive substances. The Drug Warrior need associate only one single solitary death with a substance that politicians have demonized, and that correlation is taken to be a decisive argument in favor of that substance being criminalized for now and all time - not just in America, but around the world - with the American Empire traveling overseas unbidden to burn those plants that continue to grow in once-sovereign countries despite America's edict against the same.
Thanks to the Drug Warrior's creation of this all-purpose scapegoat known as "drugs," millions - perhaps billions - of the depressed - and those who simply want to improve their mental life - must go without a powerful nature-provided substance: all because of the addle-brained Drug War logic which says in effect "one strike and you're out" if you are a substance that has been demonized by politicians.
And so Andy Gibb's cocaine-related death in 1988 helped do for cocaine what Leah Betts' Ecstasy-related death was to do for Ecstasy in 1995: it made that latter drug effectively unavailable to anyone for any reason, all because it had caused one single death - a death which, like Andy's, would have been avoided if Drug Warriors had educated people about the substance in question rather than spending their time demonizing it. Had Andy been educated about cocaine, he would have paid attention to his blood pressure while using it; had Leah been educated about Ecstasy, she would have paid attention to her body's hydration levels while using it.
But the Drug Warrior is interested in demonizing substances, not giving the world objective information about how to use them safely.
Why? Because the minute we start being fully honest about drug effects, we would have to come to terms with the fact that one in four American women are addicted to Big Pharma meds. We would have to acknowledge that SSRIs do NOT fix some chemical imbalance in the brain but rather cause that very imbalance. (See Richard Whitaker's books on this topic.) We would have to acknowledge the fact that Ecstasy is one of the safest drugs in the world, statistically speaking, and that cocaine itself has many positive effects (subjectively speaking) and that its evil effects can be avoided or reduced by wise use. So instead of arming potential users with this dangerous truth (a truth that would actually empower Americans), the Drug Warrior does everything they can to insist that there are two types of psychoactive substances in the world: divine "meds" created by Big Pharma (which are so safe that it's our duty as health-minded Americans to take them daily as directed) and evil "drugs" created by Mother Nature (which it is our duty to scorn out of hand without asking questions).
That's why Americans have been taught to hate cocaine and opium and psychedelics - by the propaganda tactic known as "omission," thanks to which all demonstrations of the wise use of those substances is removed from history, from TV shows, from movies. Meanwhile almost all authors unconsciously collaborate with the Drug War by never mentioning any of these substances in a positive light - despite the fact that all of them have had positive effects, historically speaking. Psychedelics, for just one small instance, are well known to dramatically improve one's ability to appreciate music, but one will search in vain for authors who argue for the use of such substances in modern pedagogy: such advice is literally unthinkable in a culture that has been taught (chiefly by this propaganda of omission) to view nature's plant medicines with Christian Science suspicion and disdain.
The Drug War, in short, represents a childish and ahistorical way of thinking about the world, and until the world recognizes that fact, we'll have more victims like Andy Gibb and Leah Betts, victims of the Drug War's crack down on honest talk about psychoactive substances, victims whose deaths will be cynically parlayed into Drug War propaganda by the government, thus leading to further crackdowns on godsend plant medicines that could have performed wonders for millions (indeed, billions) when used wisely.
Even if we assume that the Drug Warrior has good intentions, the effects of their policies are pure evil: they outlaw substances in a misguided effort to respond to one single death, thereby condemning millions and billions around the world to lives of unnecessary suffering, suffering brought about by the prohibition of the thousands of psychoactive godsends that nature has grown at our very feet.
Thus Drug Warriors stride the world like so many purblind do-gooders, outlawing Mother Nature's plants as they go, oblivious to the wide swath of pain and suffering that they are leaving in their wake (in nursing homes, in psychiatric clinics...), interested only in scoring points for Drug War propaganda, according to which Mother Nature is a drug kingpin rather than a healing goddess.
Maurice Gibb responded to Andy's death by vowing to remain "clean" for the rest of his life. This sort of response to a substance-related death could only happen in the time of a Drug War. In any other era, the response would be seen for the non-sequitur that it is. It's as if Andy had died by ingesting too much salt and Maurice had responded by forswearing condiments. Neither the cocaine nor the salt is to blame here, but rather the ill-advised use of the same. And that ill-advised use was encouraged by a Drug War that criminalizes mere research on illegal substances, thus making their advised use almost impossible.
ADDITIONAL ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS
I feel a kind of kinship with Andy, since he and I were born in the same year, and he and I were both experiencing depression in the same years of our adult lives. I use the word "depression" advisedly here (and not merely as an armchair philosopher pompously pronouncing on the mental health of a stranger) for I have seen footage of Andy in a few unguarded moments of his life in the last half of the '80s, and it's actually painful to watch, so clearly do I see (and sort of retroactively empathize with) his utter weariness and disappointment with life.
The Drug Warrior's Pyrrhic solution for Andy would no doubt have had the singer go cold turkey on cocaine and put him on mind-numbing Big Pharma meds for the rest of his life. (Knowing this, it's no wonder that Andy never thought of taking that alternative!)
But the obvious solution is one that Americans have been taught never to even consider (Mother Nature's plants are evil, after all): Don't demonize cocaine, but rather legalize ALL plant medicines -- only imagine! -- and then let a pharmacologically savvy empath (what the old world would have called a "shaman") use any and all plant medicines they can find to help Andy "find himself." Finding oneself was always the goal of psychiatry, after all, but if one wants to read about real success in achieving this goal, one has to turn to the accounts of reverent psychedelic use across the ages, including the works of modern pharmacological empaths such as James Fadiman and Stanislav Grof and the many psychiatrists who successfully combated their client's alcoholism with LSD in the 1950s and early '60s (and the ongoing use of ibogaine to beat addictions of many kinds in Africa).
Or one can look back further, to the psychedelic-fueled Eleusinian Mysteries, which many western luminaries (including Plato, Cicero, and Plutarch) declared to be the most important experiences of their entire lives.
Then again, Andy may have needed no intervention at all, had the entire psychoactive pharmacy of Mother Nature been available to him -- ALONG WITH THE OBJECTIVE INFORMATION NEEDED TO USE IT WISELY!
For you can be sure that in a free country, where plants were actually legal and science was actually free, everyone would have known that you have to watch your pea-picking blood pressure when you use cocaine!
If I sound "flip" here, it's only to express my heartfelt disdain for the know-nothing Drug Warrior mentality that guarantees "drug-related" deaths, first by suppressing research about plant medicines, and second by criminalizing the many plant medicine godsends that could be used to break a human being out of a bad relationship that they've developed with yet another plant medicine -- not by addicting them to another substance but by helping them adopt a more resilient and flexible way of viewing their whole world in general through the guided use of time-honored psychedelic medicine.
When Malcolm X successfully combatted addiction among his followers, he did not use a medical approach of any kind. Instead he gave his followers a REASON to renounce their addictions, namely in order to fight oppression. And that is what psychedelics can provide an addict: a REASON to change their behavior as needed in order to achieve self-fulfillment in life. For the guided use of entheogens can provide the lost with a new, clarified set of priorities, whereby they are motivated to use plant medicines only as a means to achieving a positive and life-affirming end, not as some hedonistic and dangerous end in and of itself, which is what plant medicines can become when the substance users lose track of their own purpose in life, i.e. of their whole reason for being on Planet Earth in the first place.
The medical establishment sees an addict and says: you need medical help! Wrong. They need a meaningful incentive for living life differently, and that's not going to come from Big Pharma drugs that suppress emotions and cause a lifelong addiction, albeit one for which the required drugs are eternally forthcoming -- but at a price, both morally and economically speaking: the moral price being the fact that the medical establishment has turned you into an eternal patient, with all the disempowering emotional baggage that such a classification entails.
At the risk of digressing, I feel compelled to point out that the pharmacologically savvy shamanism that I am promoting here will require the reform of tort law in America, at least as it applies to psychiatry. For under the current legal system, it will take only one single instance of a failed shamanic approach for "shamans" everywhere to renounce Mother Nature's plant medicines in favor of Big Pharma pills. Why? Because when a Big Pharma pill causes unwanted side effects over which a patient decides to sue, the liability can be borne by the pill maker, whereas the psychiatrist will be held personally responsible if a patient decides to litigate over the supposed negative effects of a medicinal cure that derives solely from Mother Nature.
Without tort reform, then, it will take just one single lawsuit against a shaman to make pharmacologically savvy shamanism unavailable to virtually everybody in the world, as shamans pull down their placards hanging above their doorway, fearful of losing their life savings and reputation to one single solitary disgruntled patient. To say that this is unscientific, is to put it mildly. But then for both lawyers and Drug Warriors, a swallow DOES make a summer.
Should a Drug Warrior find but one single solitary individual having issues with cocaine, for instance, they take it as a knock-down argument why that drug needs to remain illegal. What absolute nonsense. This is magical thinking, saying that when we talk about this thing called "drugs," all statistical rules fly out of the window and a .0001% occurrence of negative side effects suddenly constitutes a reason to eradicate a plant medicine from the face of the earth. Drug warriors only get away with this nonsense because they have convinced the world that cocaine has no positive uses. How? By censoring all positive mentions of cocaine from history, from books, from movies, and from TV -- and associating that drug merely with scumbags in a dimly lit back office loudly snorting "dope" on a card table beside piles of blood-stained money.
This is all just propaganda and Christian Science prejudice against Mother Nature's plant medicines. We need not even try to disabuse Drug Warriors of these lamebrained notions, however, since it was a violation of natural law to outlaw plant medicines in the first place. No matter how idiotic the lawyers and Drug Warriors are when it comes to the subject of statistical significance, that is ultimately beside the point. The fact remains that drug law is a common-law power grab in violation of the natural law upon which Jefferson founded this country. Just ask the ghost of Jefferson himself, which was rolling in its grave when the DEA stomped onto Monticello in jackboots in 1987 and confiscated that Founding Father's poppy plants.
In Post-Drug War America, the psychiatric pill mill will be replaced by empathic shamanism, where pharmacologically savvy teacher-therapists will use any plants in the world that they see fit in order to help their client achieve self-actualization in life.