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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Under the Thumb of Big Peyote

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A native American man has brought suit to allow his 4 year old son to smoke peyote as part of his religious beliefs. Is this another example of Big Peyote pushing their product on a naive, helpless public?

Native Americans were also the pioneers in the use of tobacco. Would anyone have had the gall to bring suit demanding a religious right to tobacco smoking?

What`s next? The right to smoke crack?



Blogger Esther said...

That odd one. At the very least, the kid could get throat cancer, cancer of the palate, cancer of the lips...wrinkles the skin....everything you want for your 4-year old.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Michael Morrison said...

Tim, you might want to re-think this.
It is perfectly permissible to question the wisdom of using any such substance as peyote or tobacco or phosphoric acid (a major component of many soft drinks), but I think you want to tread very, very carefully in questioning some other person's religion or religious practices.
There are, after all, religions that oppose, for example, blood transfusions, and others that say eating pork is unhealthful and sinful.
Are you going to allow governments to interfere with those beliefs?
In a free society, there already IS a "right to smoke crack."
I do hope you and your readers already accept that fact.
There is a "right" to ingest any kind of poison, from cyanide to sugar to television; it doesn't mean one should ingest it, but it does mean a free person owns his own life and can use it as he wishes, short of initiating force against others.
According to the Native American Church -- and it is the church, not just "Native Americans" -- peyote has spiritual benefits.
Some "Christian" churches offer wine to celebrants.
Do you remember reading where that substance was once outlawed by the federal government?
By the way, please take a look for a relevant comment at

8:04 PM  
Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

Thanks for the comments, Esther and Michael!

I have a tendency to use irony and satire to make my points, and sometimes I tend to be a bit too subtle. If people misunderstand my point it is surely because I failed to make it adequately.

Michael, the target of my comments was the anti-smoking zealots and the health-nazis who see tobacco as the root of all evil while not being particularly alarmed about other health issues such as narcotics and promiscuity. That`s why the title mentions ``Big Peyote``. I was mocking the Big Tobacco conspiracy crowd. I was also attacking an insane judicial system which takes every frivolous and assinine lawsuit seriously.

Michael, I agree that Native Americans should have the right to use controlled substances in their religious ceremonies provided prudent controls are exercised. I do in fact believe that people have the right to harm or endanger themselves if it is their free will choice. I oppose seat belt laws, motorcycle helmet laws, smoking bans, fast food bans, etc. because I do not believe it`s possible to have a free society and have the State regulate behavior solely for your own benefit.

That said, I must point out that I am a conservative and not a libertarian. I may favor decriminalization of some narcotics (the whole point of the laws is to help people; criminalization makes those we seek to help criminals), but I do not favor legalization. Society DOES have the right and duty to place certain restrictions on things-especially dangerous and unhealthful things. I cannot, in any way, condone giving a dangerous narcotic to a four year old child. There have to be SOME standards.

If we hold no standards for religious practices, where do we draw the line? The Church of Satan advocates many things for which they could claim a religious exemption. If a Satanist were to use his 4 year old daughter for sexual purposes in a ritual, would we have no right to object? What if the Satanist wanted to perform a human sacrifice and forces his wife to abort her unborn child? (Oops, she can already do that!) No one will make that argument, yet the rationale is the same; freedom of religion allows a parent to coerce a child to perform an unhealthy act.

I do sympathize with your view, and agree with you up to a point. You`re right; once regulation of certain dangerous behavior begins to snowballs into regulation of any behavior which someone might deem offensive. Society has become far too intrusive.

Thanks for a thought provoking, and lucid comment! (I`ve come to expect nothing less from you, Michael!)

5:37 AM  
Blogger Michael Morrison said...

Tim, thank you for your, as usual, intelligent and cordial reply.
You ask several questions and make several statements, all of which need response.
Is there a way we can make this into a forum?
That is, not just further posted comments? They can get quite tedious for readers.
And did you look at the "Native American" joke?

7:20 PM  

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