Does it matter if we’re oppressed for what we ‘do,’ rather than what we ‘are’?

Vin’s latest post at , where Nese Devenot invites members of the psychedelic community to “come out of the closet”:

I believe a false dichotomy is being embraced by some correspondents here, a dichotomy which is beneficial to the oppressors, but not to the oppressed — who would be better advised to form common cause, rather than arguing “I’m more oppressed than you are; you insult me by comparing the threat of jail under which YOU now labor, to the disabilities which the law sought or still seeks to impose on MY group.”

Otherwise, we risk falling into the trap so memorably summarized by Pastor Niemoller, who summarized the cowardice of the German intellectuals in his famous speech (there were many versions) ending: “When they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. When they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

It’s asserted that threatening to jail people for possessing or ingesting mind-altering plant extracts or derivatives is not “as bad” or “as objectionable” as threatening to jail people for being gay, transgendered, lesbian, whatever. Oppression is somehow worse, according to this theory, when the oppressor threatens to punish, jail or otherwise restrict the freedoms of people because of who or what they ARE, but somehow less bad, less objectionable, when they (we) are only threatened with having thugs burst into our homes late at night, drag us out in our bedclothes, show video of us shackled half-naked on TV, and jail us for an act we DO, which of course we are free to decide to refrain from doing at each occurrence.

But the oppressors, while they are self-righteous, smug, repressive, anti-life, and thus evil, do not lack a certain suave cleverness at making themselves sound reasonable and their opponents sound “out there.” Given the opportunity, I submit they will always soothingly coo, “But of course we don’t seek to jail or punish people for merely BEING Jewish or Catholic or Quaker. If they hold those beliefs in the privacy of their own thoughts, that’s fine with us. We will only seize and jail you if you gather together and perform actual ACTS of worship, such as preaching nonconformist sermons, singing nonconformist hymns, et cetera — all voluntary, discretionary acts which you have it in your power to decide not to do at each occurrence, and which ‘disturb the public peace.’”

Or: “Of course we do not seek to jail or punish people merely because they feel a proclivity, a predisposition, a preference, which leads them to find members of the same sex attractive. You may ‘be’ that way all you please, without fear of any punishment. We will only seize and jail you if you perform actual sexual ACTS of which we do not approve, acts which you have it in your power to decide not to perform at each occurrence, and which of course we will have to spy on you to detect, all for your own good. After all, LOTS of people choose to be celibate.”

Or: “Of course it’s fine with us if you want to BELIEVE that growing and/or consuming the peyote cactus, the psilocybin mushroom, whatever, is a spiritually beneficial experience which helps you appreciate and glorify this natural world, to better understand God’s (or Nature’s) creation, to come to a better spiritual peace with your place in the cosmos. That’s FINE! We’re only going to raid your house, seize all your assets (as presumed “drug-related gains”) and lock you up in a dark cell for decades if you actually choose to possess or consume such a sacrament — discretionary ACTS from which you are free to choose to refrain at each occurrence. . . . all for your own good, of course.”

Is it really useful to be told I have the freedom to WISH to do any of these things, so long as I don’t actually ACT on my beliefs – that I’m free to BE the way I am, so long as I never actually EXERCISE any of my human rights?

And as for “how drugs should be scheduled” under some revised version of the current scheme of Prohibition: Give me a break. With the exception of a few zones of extreme climate or excessive concrete, every American is capable of growing marijuana, opium poppies, and/or psilocybin (and lots more) in the privacy of his or her own basement or back yard. Faced with that reality, the system of privacy invasion, police spies and informants, etc., necessary to enforce ANY drug prohibition has proven incompatible with a free society, which is why America increasingly resembles a police state. (Even opening a bank account is now turned into an excuse for IRS tracking, on the pretext that of course we have to cooperate to “stop drug dealers from money laundering.” And look up the ban on “precursor chemicals” or the “Designer Drug Enforcement Act of 1986,” which bans molecules not even yet invented. Does anyone else see a resemblance to the king trying to ban every sewing needle from his kingdom in the old fairy tale?)

We’ve tried “letting government decide” which drugs are “worst.” I find the results enlightening but not much encouraging of further “refinement” and experiment.

Basing arguments on the “equal protection of the law” acknowledges a made-up-out-of-thin-air delegated power of the state to “protect me” from my own choices, and, yes, encourages the division of the populace into various “protected” and “unprotected” groups -– precisely the kind of divide-and-conquer strategy that got us where we are, at each other’s throats while our masters tighten up our bits, bridles, leashes and collars.

The Constitution does not delegate to government here any power whatever to attempt to regulate or control this aspect of the “Pursuit of Happiness,” with the possible exception of the Interstate Commerce Clause, intended merely to make sure states with better rainfall don’t place prohibitive interstate tariffs on magic mushrooms (or anything else) being shipped to their more arid neighbors.

If the Constitution is any longer in force — except as a blanket authorization for government to do anything that five justices can convince themselves tends to “promote the general welfare” (standing on its head the notion of a charter for limited government) — the ruling planks here are the First Amendment ban on government intervention in religious practice (including my choice of sacraments), and the Ninth Amendment ban on any interference in the long-established right to grow and consume any plant we please.

Were there any “drug laws” in 1776, other than a modest tariff on tea . . . which generated a few problems? There were not. Did the Founders establish our union in the hopes our new government would STRIP their progeny of any of their pre-existing rights? The premise is laughable.

Any law, ordinance or regulation which pretends to ban, restrict, or regulate possession of any plant extract (especially those which were unrestricted 200 years ago) is null and void from its inception, and anyone (having sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution) who enforces such a law is depriving his or her fellow citizens of their civil, human, and constitutional rights under color of law – which is a REAL crime.

Fortunately, once all the Drug War prisoners are released from prison, plenty of room will become available for the Fearless Drug Warriors, themselves.

— V.S.

5 Comments to “Does it matter if we’re oppressed for what we ‘do,’ rather than what we ‘are’?”

  1. MamaLiberty Says:

    This opens to a page that requires registration before the article can be read.

    Just wondered if you knew about that. 🙂

  2. Vin Says:

    Hi, Mama — Yes. I didn’t set up that page, of course. Nor did I find the log-in procedure too cumbersome or objectionable, though I know many folks will steer clear, which is fine, & also why I re-posted my latest comment in a more accessible location, here.

    Nese set up her post and feedback page to expire in about another twelve days, I think. There’s not a lot of dialogue, there — mostly 70-some folks agreeing it’s time for those who favor re-legalizing psychoactive/entheogenic plants to “come out of the closet” . . . or seeking to establish their own bona fides as having “come out” by publishing a paper mentioning psychedelics in some academic journal, way back when.

    Some indeed tell interesting tales of having been given the cold shoulder in department meetings, being cut off from research grants from former sponsors, etc. Most seem to have survived.

    Nese made some comparison to gays “coming out” in her initial post (which is based on a conference presentation.) A number of people seem to want to insist the oppression of gays is more serious because that’s discrimination based on what they ARE, whereas (after all) a user of psychedelics/entheogens is free to decide not to DO such drugs.

    My reaction is posted above.

    Thanks for reading,

    (I suppose I could have added: “Oh, it’s fine for you to BELIEVE people have a right to keep and bear arms. We’re only going to throw you in jail if you actually DO something about it , like strapping a gun around your hip and going out in public . . .”) 🙂

    — Vin

  3. MamaLiberty Says:

    I understood your article, of course, just always like to look at links provided. 🙂 And no, I don’t “register” for sites unless absolutely necessary. Just one of those things.

    As for drugs and guns and the “law,” I don’t think you have any questions about my position on any of it. No “government” has any legitimate authority to dictate anything to anyone who does not consciously, deliberately consent, preferably in writing. 🙂 And no “constitution” written has any authority except that either. Those who consent are welcome to it.

    But far too many people want to be “free” to do what they want with their own bodies and property, one way or another, yet insist that they retain the option of using the force of government to control the actions and choices of others who do things of which they do not approve – or some vague and bogus “common good.”

    I believe strongly that it is counterproductive to argue for “rights” in any relation to the “constitution,” and it seems only rational to stop expecting the system the controllers build and own to “allow” us to be free.

  4. JdL Says:

    Well said, Vin. Another subset of irritating people claim that government should legalize marijuana and only criminalize “hard drugs”. But government has no business sticking its fat nose into anything people might choose to consume, and anyone who feels moved to defend marijuana consumption by saying “It’s not as bad as [heroin, cocaine, speed, whatever]” is not asserting his right to be free of slavery, but only making a wheedling plea to be given special favors by his benevolent masters.

  5. Ed Says:

    I would prefer to not have to help pay for imprisoning the Fearless Drug Warriors. Better that their fate be identical to that of the original Nazi Fearless Warriors.