Over the last 25 years, I’ve watched a lot of Deadheads, Buddhists, and other free-thinkers do acid. I’ve taken it myself. I still do occasionally, in a ritual sort of way. On the basis of their experience and my own, I know that the public terror of LSD is based more on media-propagated superstition than familiarity with its effects on the real world.
I know this, and, like most others who know it, I have kept quiet about it.
Shortly after the Bill of Rights was drafted, the English philosopher John Stuart Mill said, “Liberty resides in the rights of that person whose views you find most odious.” The Buddha was wise to point out that people must be free to work out for themselves what is true from actual experience and express it without censure.
I will go further and say that liberty resides in its exercise. It is preserved in the actual spouting of those odious views. It is maintained, and always has been, by brave and lonely cranks.
Lately it seems that our necessary cranks have been falling silent, struck dumb by a general assault on liberty on America. This is no right-wing plot from the top. Like most totalitarian impulses, it has arisen among the people themselves. Terrified of virtual bogeymen we know only from the evening news, we have asked the government for shorter chains and smaller cages. And, market-driven as ever, it has been obliging us.
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