Essay date: July 25, 2023

A message for unhappy campers

Every few months, I get raked over the coals by a follower, based on their wild misinterpretation of something that I've said.  (Hey, I'm sure they mean well, bless them!) Here's a case in point. <br />
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Two days ago, I blamed Bill Clinton for his...

very few months, I get raked over the coals by a follower, based on their wild misinterpretation of something that I've said. (Hey, I'm sure they mean well, bless them!) Here's a case in point.

Two days ago, I blamed Bill Clinton for his role (as I have often done, in fact) in suppressing Blacks in the States and destroying the rule of law in Mexico, and I was told that I should shut up. I'm told that I am a Hilary Clinton hater, that I'm a Republican, and that I am pro-Trump. That's three lies in a row from this anonymous source - someone who should probably be reminded that libel is still a crime in the United States of America.

This former follower - we have both now recalled our virtual ambassadors from Twitter, so to speak - seems to be championing a strange theory about philosophy, namely that the philosopher should let political strategy determine whom he criticizes and whom he praises.

Having grown up in a putatively free country, that's not a philosophical rule of conduct with which I am familiar. (What? Check with pollsters for permission to hold forth on hot button issues? I don't think so.) Besides, if anyone actually read my work - rather than gliding over it in search of something to diss - they would know that I have always made it clear - what is obvious in any case - that Trump is worse on the subject of drugs than the veteran Drug Warrior who is currently installed on Pennsylvania Avenue. Nothing I write is going to win votes for Trump, except if a moron is determined to shove the round peg of my comments into a square hole of their cynical expectations. (To be specific, Biden does not yet believe with Trump that we should execute Blacks for dealing in politically despised plant medicines - however, he does join Trump in believing that folks who use such medicines should be deprived without trial of a livelihood in America through the anti-American process known as "drug testing." So you see, the two presidents are basically Dumb and Dumber on this topic. But then as King Lear reminds us: "Not being the worst stands in some rank of praise.")

The odd thing is, I've always had more trouble with disgruntled followers than I've ever had with Drug Warriors themselves. Drug warriors like Kevin Sabet and Bill Clinton never answer objections. They just ignore you and if push comes to shove (as with Kevin Sabet), they block you from bothering them on Twitter - bothering them with questions they truly can't answer but to their own prejudice. No, it is the friendly fire that kills on Twitter, when you are dissed, not for what you've written, but based on how some fanatic might interpret your words if they were determined to ascribe to you the worst possible motives in the world.

That's a good definition of political correctness, I think, one that captures where its problems lay, to wit: "In political correctness, one judges statements based on how they would sound when coming out of the mouth of the most insincere and hateful person imaginable." It's this insistence on subordinating everything to politics - even common sense and human feeling - that I hate about political correctness, especially when I end up on the receiving end of the intolerance that this cynical philosophy fosters.

Sound familiar? That's the same cynical strategy that Drug Warriors take toward drugs these days: they judge psychoactive drugs simply by asking: "What is the worst possible scenario of use that we can imagine with this drug?" There's no talk of drug benefits, at any dose, for any reason, at any time, in any place. No, once it's been established that the drug can be used irresponsibly by at least one person or demographic, then the drug's use IN ANY SITUATION must be discredited (for everybody, anywhere, ever), just as the ideology of political correctness forces us to consider writers to be traitors if they stand for truth first and put politics second.

But some people do like to complain, I guess. Twenty years ago, I lived on the 11th floor of one of the five Southern Towers apartment high-rises in Alexandria, Virginia, just seven miles south of D.C. One day I responded to a loud banging at my door. Upon flinging the door open, I saw a 25-ish dude spreading eagle across the opening, staring me furiously in the face and saying.... Nothing. He was saying nothing at all, and my repeated comments like "What can I do for you?" went unanswered and even unacknowledged. I had to ask him five separate times to tell me what the problem was, even telling him I was going to call the police, but apparently he was sure that I was playing with him: I KNEW what the problem was, his hateful gaze seemed to be telling me.

Fast-forward five anger-charged minutes: this infuriated demon from the 10th floor finally condescended to tell me that he had been hearing a repetitive scraping noise from his ceiling in his apartment below mine. A series of follow-up questions eventually isolated the problem: It seems that a broken door stop on my bathroom door was resulting in a loud and irritating noise below me every time I opened or closed the bathroom door.

I had no idea that such a noise was being generated in the apartment below me, but The Angry Guy never for once believed that I was innocent. He had got it in his head that I was sitting up above him, wilfully causing the noise and laughing vindictively as I contemplated the anguish that I was putting him through. ("Take this, my pretty!" he seemed to hear me saying, as I moved the doorstop back and forth on purpose, luxuriating in the schadenfreude thus produced.)

I feel like these web haters are channeling this ANGRY GUY whenever I encounter this weird friendly fire.

To be fair, I have gone off half-cocked once or twice myself. I've been angered by some tweets that I should have read twice before blowing up. Once I even "let loose" on what I discovered to my horror was a loyal fan! I had taken his sarcasm toward my critics as intended for myself! He accepted my quick apologies, though I fear he's made himself scarce ever since. But I always apologize for mistakes and try to do better.

That said, I am not in a hurry to apologize for sharing an honest viewpoint, least of all when it's a protest that my critic never bothered to utter, even when it was an "off year" for elections. He might not be so sanguine about Biden's current "drugs" policy if he lived in Southeast DC, where bullets are whizzing even as we speak, all thanks to the Drug War which has always been a poll tax by other means. He might have had a little more sympathy for me as he tried to type his furious Tweet while ducking to avoid errant bullets from his bedroom window.

But I do find it ironic that Angry Guy accuses me of supporting Trump, when I am about the only one in the world who has pointed out that he won the 2016 election thanks to the Drug War, which had thrown millions of minority voters into jail. That's a crucial point that should, in itself, end the Drug War - but the media, of course, will never "run" with that. "The Drug War steals elections for hardliners? So what? We must fight drugs at all costs! If that means stolen elections, so be it!"

Trump's ascension came about thanks to the silence of his opposition, not because folks like myself were sounding off without first getting permission from pollsters to do so. Nor can I see how I am helping Trump by calling for folks to shout "End the Drug War now!" I can't see how such an outburst would ever help Trump, unless we can imagine an undecided voter saying something to themselves like: "I want a president whose security force would never even ALLOW such a protest statement to be shouted audibly at a convention in the first place! I'm switching to Trump!"

The Drug War survives because people are silent about it, not because they're complaining. Besides, if any politician can be said to have "brought it on himself" when it comes to bad press, it is Joe Biden, the sponsor of the bill that disproportionately punished Blacks for coca use and the first president to fire his White House staff en masse, not simply for impairment, but for their mere past use of naturally occurring substances of which racist politicians disapprove.

Next essay: Open Letter to Roy Benaroch MD
Previous essay: How Addiction Scientists Reckon without the Drug War

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In a former life, I bought this bumper sticker myself. My friends got quite a kick out of it, as I recall!
5% of proceeds from the sale of the above product will go toward getting Brian a decent haircut for once. Honestly. 9% will go toward shoes. 50% will go toward miscellaneous. 9% of the remainder will go toward relaxation, which could encompass anything from a spin around town to an outdoor barbecue at Brian's brother's house in Stanardsville (both gas and the ice-cream cake that Brian usually supplies).

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Face it, even your friends sometimes tick you off: Show them your true feelings with this novelty gift card -- and don't worry, the inside text reads: PSYCH! Just kidding.

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What would Socrates do if he drove a BMW? He'd sell it at once to show he wasn't tempted by luxury -- but he'd keep the kewl bumper sticker designed by that came with it.


old time radio playing Drug War comedy sketches

You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at Brian is the founder of The Drug War Gift Shop, where artists can feature and sell their protest artwork online. He has also written for Sociodelic and is the author of The Drug War Comic Book, which contains 150 political cartoons illustrating some of the seemingly endless problems with the war on drugs -- many of which only Brian seems to have noticed, by the way, judging by the recycled pieties that pass for analysis these days when it comes to "drugs." That's not surprising, considering the fact that the category of "drugs" is a political category, not a medical or scientific one.

A "drug," as the world defines the term today, is "a substance that has no good uses for anyone, ever, at any time, under any circumstances" -- and, of course, there are no substances of that kind: even cyanide and the deadly botox toxin have positive uses: a war on drugs is therefore unscientific at heart, to the point that it truly qualifies as a superstition, one in which we turn inanimate substances into boogie-men and scapegoats for all our social problems.

The Drug War is, in fact, the philosophical problem par excellence of our time, premised as it is on a raft of faulty assumptions (notwithstanding the fact that most philosophers today pretend as if the drug war does not exist). It is a war against the poor, against minorities, against religion, against science, against the elderly, against the depressed, against those in pain, against children in hospice care, and against philosophy itself. It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions, Nazifies the English language and militarizes police forces nationwide.

It bans the substances that inspired William James' ideas about human consciousness and the nature of ultimate reality. In short, it causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, meanwhile violating the Natural Law upon which Thomas Jefferson founded America. (Surely, Jefferson was rolling over in his grave when Ronald Reagan's DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated the founding father's poppy plants.)

If you believe in freedom and democracy, in America and around the world, please stay tuned for more philosophically oriented broadsides against the outrageous war on godsend medicines, AKA the war on drugs.

Brian Quass
The Drug War Philosopher

PS The drug war has not failed: to the contrary, it has succeeded, insofar as its ultimate goal was to militarize police forces around the world and help authorities to ruthlessly eliminate those who stand in the way of global capitalism. For more, see Drug War Capitalism by Dawn Paley. Oh, and did I mention that most Drug Warriors these days would never get elected were it not for the Drug War itself, which threw hundreds of thousands of their political opposition in jail? Trump was right for the wrong reasons: elections are being stolen in America, but the number-one example of that fact is his own narrow victory in 2016, which could never have happened without the existence of laws that were specifically written to keep Blacks and minorities from voting. The Drug War, in short, is a cancer on the body politic.

Rather than apologetically decriminalizing selected plants, we should be demanding the immediate restoration of Natural Law, according to which "The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being." (John Locke)

Selected Bibliography

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  • Barrett, Damon "Children of the Drug War: Perspectives on the Impact of Drug Polices on Young People"2011 IDEBATE Press
  • Bilton, Anton "DMT Entity Encounters: Dialogues on the Spirit Molecule"2021 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
    • Blum, Richard "Society and Drugs" 1970 Jossey-Bass
  • Boullosa , Carmen "A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the 'Mexican Drug War'"2016 OR Books
  • Brereton, William "The Truth about Opium / Being a Refutation of the Fallacies of the Anti-Opium Society and a Defence of the Indo-China Opium Trade"2017 Anna Ruggieri
  • Burns, Eric "1920: The year that made the decade roar"2015 Pegasus Books
  • Carpenter, Ted Galen "The Fire Next Door: Mexico's Drug Violence and the Danger to America"2012 Cato Institute
    • Carroll, Lewis "Alice in Wonderland: The Original 1865 Edition With Complete Illustrations By Sir John Tenniel" 2021 Amazon
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    • Ellsberg, Daniel "The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner " 2018 Bloomsbury Publishing
    • Fadiman, James "The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys " 2011 Park Street Press
  • Filan, Kenaz "The Power of the Poppy: Harnessing Nature's Most Dangerous Plant Ally"2011 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
    • Fleming, Thomas "A Disease in the Public Mind: Why We Fought the Civil War" 2014 Da Capo Press
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  • Gianluca, Toro "Drugs of the Dreaming: Oneirogens"2007 Simon and Schuster
    • Gootenberg, Paul "Cocaine: Global Histories" 1999 Routledge
    • Gottleib, Anthony "The Dream of Enlightenment: the Rise of Modern Philosophy" 2016 Liveright Publishing Corporation
  • Griffiths, William "Psilocybin: A Trip into the World of Magic Mushrooms"2021 William Griffiths
  • Hofmann, Albert "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications"2005 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
    • Holland, Julie "Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, from Soul to Psychedelics" 2020 HarperWave
    • Huxley, Aldous "The Doors of Perception / Heaven and Hell" 1970 Penguin Books
  • Irwin-Rogers, Keir "Illicit Drug Markets, Consumer Capitalism and the Rise of Social Media: A Toxic Trap for Young People"2019
  • James, William "The Varieties of Religious Experience"1902 Philosophical Library
    • Jenkins, Philip "Synthetic Panics: The Symbolic Politics of Designer Drugs" 1999 New York University Press
    • Johnson, Paul "The Birth of the Modern" 1991 Harper Collins
    • Leary, Timothy Ralph Metzner "The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead " 1964 University Books
    • Lovecraft, HP "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" 1970 Del Rey Books
  • Mariani, Angelo "Coca and its Therapeutic Application, Third Edition"1896
    • Mate, Gabriel "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction" 2009 Vintage Canada
    • Maupassant, Guy de "Le Horla et autres contes fantastiques - Guy de Maupassant: Les classiques du fantastique " 2019
    • McKenna, Terence "Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution " 1992 Bantam
  • Miller, Richard Lawrence "Drug Warriors and Their Prey: From Police Power to Police State"1966 Bloomsbury Academic
    • Miller, Richard Louis "Psychedelic Medicine: The Healing Powers of LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, and Ayahuasca Kindle " 2017 Park Street Press
  • Mortimer MD, W. Golden "Coca: Divine Plant of the Incas"2017 Ronin Publishing
  • Newcombe, Russell "Intoxiphobia: discrimination toward people who use drugs"2014
    • Noe, Alvin "Out of our Heads" 2010 HiII&Wang,
    • Paley, Dawn "Drug War Capitalism" 2014 AK Press
  • Partridge, Chiristopher "Alistair Crowley on Drugs"2021 uploaded by Misael Hernandez
    • Pinchbeck, Daniel "When Plants Dream" 2019 Watkins Publishing
    • Poe, Edgar Allan "The Essential Poe" 2020 Warbler Classics
    • Pollan, Michael "How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence " 2018 Penguin Books
    • Reynolds, David S. "Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville " 1988 Oxford University Press
    • Richards, William "Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences Hardcover" 2015 Columbia University Press
    • Rosenfeld, Harvey "Diary of a Dirty Little War: The Spanish-American War of 1898 " 2000 Praeger
  • Rudgley, Richard "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances"2014 Macmillan Publishers
    • Russell, Kirk "Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered" 1967 Arlington House
    • Schlosser, Erich "Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety" 2014 Penguin
    • Sewell, Kenneth Clint Richmond "Red Star Rogue: The Untold Story of a Soviet Submarine's Nuclear Strike Attempt on the U.S. " 2006 Pocket Star
    • Shirer, William "The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler" 2011 RosettaBooks
  • Shulgin, Alexander "PIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story"1991 Transform Press
  • Shulgin, Alexander "The Nature of Drugs Vol. 1: History, Pharmacology, and Social Impact"2021 Transform Press
    • Slater, Lauren "Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Changed Our Minds" 2019 Boston
  • Smith, Wolfgang "Cosmos and Transcendence: Breaking Through the Barrier of Scientistic Belief"0
  • Smith, Wolfgang "Physics: A Science in Quest of an Ontology"2022
  • St John, Graham "Mystery School in Hyperspace: A Cultural History of DMT"2021
    • Straussman, Rick "DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences " 2001 Park Street Press
    • Streatfield, Dominic "Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography" 2003 Picador USA
    • Swartzwelder, Scott "Buzzed: The Straight Facts About the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy" 1998 W.W. Norton
    • Szasz, Thomas "Ceremonial Chemistry: the ritual persecution of drugs, addicts, and pushers" 1974 Anchor Press/Doubleday
  • Szasz, Thomas "Interview With Thomas Szasz: by Randall C. Wyatt"0
    • Szasz, Thomas "Our Right to Drugs: The case for a free market" 1992 Praeger
    • Tyler, George R. "Billionaire Democracy: The Hijacking of the American Political System" 2016 Pegasus Books
    • Watts, Alan "The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness" 1965 Vintage
  • Wedel, Janine "Unaccountable: How the Establishment Corrupted Our Finances, Freedom and Politics and Created an Outsider Class"2014 Pegasus Books
  • Weil, Andrew "From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs"2004 Open Road Integrated Media
    • Whitaker, Robert "Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America " 2010 Crown
    • Zinn, Howard "A People's History of the United States: 1492 - present" 2009
    • Zuboff , Shoshana "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power" 2019 Public Affairs
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