Timothy Leary

Neocons for Leary


While reading an essay collection about Timothy Leary—Timothy Leary: Outside Looking In, edited by Robert Forte—I stumbled across an interesting historical datum. A gaggle of intellectuals on May 10, 1966, issued one of those always-effective open letters of protest regarding Leary's first pot arrest. The letter stated that:

"The infringement of constitutional rights of privacy, interference with religious and scientific practice, excessive enforcement and public anxiety have grown to crisis stage–through the application of irrational marijuana statutes"


"The long imprisonment given to the psychological researcher Dr. Timothy Leary…illustrates the irrationality of present marijuana laws, and is a cruel and unjust punishment."

Among the signers, unsurprisingly, were Peter Fonda, Anais Nin, Gary Snyder, Susan Sontag, and Alan Watts. Also among them were Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz. I wonder if those neocon godfathers have changed their minds—and if so, why. Or if they'd sign a similar letter on the injustice of marijuana laws today.

NEXT: Music Stand

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  1. What a waste devoting resources fighting this stupid drug war. The lives destroyed. The jail cells built. The pain of the people. We need someone with a dream. Maybe we need another Martin Luther King.

  2. Aren’t the neocons generally against the “drug war”, or at least admitting that it’s been an utter failure? That seems to be the stand of National Review (much to my surprise when I first started reading it). They’re by no means “pro” drug, but I think even Buckley himself has written against the “war”.

  3. CPH is right: William F Buckley created quite a stir when he first came out against the “War on Drugs.” very recently, the current editorship of National Review, headed by Rich Lowry came out against this war on liberty.
    So, as a conservative Libertarian, I am always surprising Liberals (but never conservatives) when I speak out in the harshest terms against the war on drugs, and any of the other recent Federal machinations against out inalienable rights.

  4. “War” is when two (or more) nations line up and engage in a fight with weapons. At least, that’s what it’s been for thousands of years. Nowadays, the spin-meisters have adapted it to taking on inanimate objects such as drugs, poverty, etc. (I can’t wait til we make war on violence).

    Our careless use of the term “war” has left it meaningless. The sheer terror and brutality of a real war is unthinkable. Ask your grandfather.

    But, of course, that won’t play on FOX News.

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