I asked 100 American philosophers what they thought about the Drug War
by Ballard Quass
Every one of them took the fifth
I recently sent a 16-page pamphlet to 100 American philosophy professors, urging them to fight back against the philosophical absurdities by which the Drug War has bamboozled Americans into renouncing natural law and embracing the government-mandated religion of Christian Science. I reminded these philosophical giants how this Drug War demonizes all psychoactive products that are not created by Big Pharma, meanwhile imprisoning a record number of minorities and creating civil wars overseas out of whole cloth. I pointed out how the Drug War creates all the problems that it purports to solve and turns a politically created category called drugs (chiefly meaning "Mother Nature's plant medicines") into an all-purpose scapegoat for social problems.
I went on to explain how the corrupt DEA -- which has used chemical weapons against "its own people," and with impunity -- has lied about psychoactive plant medicines for almost 50 years now, also with impunity, leading us to believe that the agency has so much power now that its very existence is a threat to the democratic process. I then expatiated at length upon the DEA's role in quashing medical and botanical research, including the study of plants that show promise for treating Alzheimer's disease, decrying the anti-scientific nature of the prohibitions in question and likening them to the impediments that the Church of Galileo's day erected for the 16th-century cosmologist.
In short, when I came away from the local post office after licking 300 stamps (two 25's and a 10 per envelope) I was pretty happy with myself: I had woken up the philosophical world to the mother of all American calamities: the overthrow of natural law and the establishment of Christian Science as America's state religion - a calamity that the layperson more commonly refers to as "the Drug War." Surely it would not be long now before these academic worthies started speaking truth to Imperial power, right? (Hey, we go overseas to burn plants that have been used responsibly by non-Western cultures for millennia. How's that for imperialism?)
I know what you're asking right now: after spending three days and $50 to send this snail mail heads-up to the best American philosophers of our time, how many responses did I get back in the course of two months or so? Hmm?
May I have the envelope, please?
Zero. I received exactly zero responses. Hmm. Maybe Stephen Hawking had a point about philosophy being irrelevant.
Then you can hardly blame them. They really could be driven from their universities, should they have the gall to point out that the emperor is wearing no clothes. After all, Americans' bias against Mother Nature's psychoactive plant medicines has been beaten into them for half a century and more, chiefly by the propaganda of omission, whereby we Statesiders never - but never - see or read about the positive and life-affirming uses of criminalized plant medicines by people and societies. Indeed nowadays, you merely have to say the word "cocaine" in public to give a Drug Warrior a coronary, so used are they to an obedient silence on the topic of that officially hated substance - never mind the fact that Sigmund Freud considered it a godsend for the treatment of depression. Besides, Americans know that all substances magically start frying the brain the very second that they are criminalized by politicians. Hey, this was shown in an actual TV ad: it has to be true, right?
So philosophers better lay low indeed. We Americans are all now confirmed Christian Scientists, when it comes to plant medicine. Just say no, we cry, as we reach for another Adderall or Zoloft. Speaking of which, 1 in 4 American women are hooked on Big Pharma meds while Americans in general are the most drug-taking race on earth (thanks largely to today's psychiatric pill mill) but, to cite the catchphrase from those old Leslie Nielsen movies, "that's not important right now." The important thing (to have our politicians tell it, anyway) is that we hold Mother Nature's psychoactive plant medicines in contempt, like all good scientistic Christians. Just let go and let medical science (addict you, that is).
Given this addle-brained zeitgeist, why should an academic risk his or her career by speaking out? Besides, maybe they have other priorities, like (oh, I don't know) say, slamming patriarchy? or proving that we're all living in a Matrix? or explaining why morality is an artificial construct?
Well, in THAT case, let's hope that morality IS an artificial construct, otherwise it's downright immoral of these philosophers to ignore the Drug War like this and the many evils that it brings about daily, in inner cities via gunfire, in nursing homes via the government prohibition on godsend mind meds, and overseas via the civil wars that are created when one idiotically outlaws a natural substance that has been used responsibly for millennia by non-Western cultures. Philosophers are the people who are supposed to think straight when everyone else is caught up in the passionate lies of the times. Why this roaring silence from the ivory tower?
Of course, I can't presume to know why these 100 philosophers stonewalled me to a man (and/or to a woman). Perhaps they really fear for their jobs. Perhaps they're all Christian scientists (every mother's son of them, and every father's daughter) and they all considered me a heretic. Search me.
But to show you just what a principled guy I am, I am not going to "call any of them out" here by publishing their names in order to task them for their nonresponse. That would just plain be wrong. Sure, I was (how should I say this) a trifle "wounded" by their unanimous indifference to my admittedly humble person, but hey, I'm a big boy now, I'm strong. Revenge would be a sign of weakness. Take Professor Kit Fine, for instance, at NYU. I am definitely NOT going to call her out for ignoring me. What would be the point of that? I'm also going to overlook the oversight of her colleague David Chalmers in this regard. Mercy before justice, say I. As for Professor Steven Diner of Rutgers: his status as a non-responder is a secret that I'm going to take to my grave - along with the never-to-be-mentioned fact that Princeton Professor Elizabeth Harman "cut me" ruthlessly in the self-same manner. Live and let live, say I.
Of course, there's always the off chance that my entire mailing list considers me a nobody and therefore felt no compunction in failing to acknowledge my (ahem) somewhat painstakingly compiled pamphlet (for which I made two trips to Staples, by the way, to buy all the relevant envelopes, labels and copier paper, not to mention the opportunity cost of spending an hour at the post office licking stamps).
Snarkiness aside, however: all I really want to do is end the war on drugs and re-legalize all of Mother Nature's plant medicines, meanwhile not only abolishing the DEA but holding its leaders responsible for poisoning Americans and lying about Mother Nature's godsend plant meds. (If we could reaffirm the demagogue-thwarting principle of Natural Law while we're at it, that would be so much gravy.) Should my pamphlet eventually prod just one of these so-far tight-lipped academics to help me check off these desiderata on my philosophical bucket list, then I will consider my epistolary exertions in that quarter to have been a success. As for their indifference to me personally, all will be forgiven. No harm, no foul. Namaste, padres. Namaste.
That said, would it really have been so difficult for just one of them to say, "Thanks for the reminder about the need for immediate action against this great hydra-headed injustice, Brian. Well done, you"?
Bone up on slam-dunk arguments against the drug war, starting with the fact that it was a violation of natural law to outlaw plant medicine in the first place. Check out
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for fun ways to learn more about the manifold injustice of the status quo, including many knock-down arguments never made before. Why? Because even the majority of drug-war opponents have been bamboozled by one or more of the absurd assumptions upon which that war is premised. See through the haze. Read on. Listen on. And Learn how tryants and worrywarts have despoiled American freedom, thereby killing millions around the world, totally unnecessarily, ever since the fateful day in 1914 when ignorant America first criminalized a mere plant -- and insisted that the rest of the world follow suit or else -- an act of colonialist folly unrivaled since the days of the genocidal Conquistadors.