Musings of a Cognitive Dissident

Subverting authority since 1989

Anti-pot bigots are the real problem behind marijuana grow-ops

This is just my latest letter in the Langley Advance. Fighting the good fight against our insane drug policy in this country.


The Significance of Mandela, the Man

I already addressed Mandela’s significance to the future of Palestine in a previous post, here I wish to address what Mandela means to me, and it may be a controversial idea.

Nelson Mandela was not a perfect human being.

Don’t let the flowery language following his death to fool you: Mandela was not a saint.

And that is why he is so important.

Mandela was enamored with communism in his early years, before later embracing democracy. Mandela was surrounded by people who were much more eager to embrace violence and sabotage than he, and fought alongside them.

I repeat, Mandela was not a saint. He was a man. He was a human being – one who made mistakes and had human limitations, but embodied the highest hopes of humanity: forgiveness, peace, tolerance, and self-transcending love.

Nelson Mandela was like you or I, a close relative of other mammals and if you go far back enough, a relative of every plant and animal on this planet. He was not magic.

Nelson Mandela was living proof that human dignity, the language of human rights, a belief in morality, social justice, peace and tolerance is enough on which to build a better tomorrow. No appeals to the supernatural or a higher power is necessary here. We, in our ordinariness, are enough.

Mandela in Theory and Practice

I don’t need to recap who Nelson Mandela was, what he did, what he accomplished, or say RIP.

What I would like to do is address Mandela’s significance to the modern world, and the modern apartheid.

Of course I am referring to the “apartness” and forced segregation of the Palestinian people.

Nelson Mandela was a member of an organization that used sabotage tactics including violence and the destruction of property against the South African state. Mandela himself was labelled a terrorist and is still called as such by racists and extreme-right wing-nuts.

The terrorism/sabotage tactics did not work. If anything, it set the anti-apartheid movement back by years.

It was civil disobedience and the weight of the worldwide human moral conscience that ultimately dissolved the chain-link fence that was apartheid.

Sabotage will not end the new apartheid. The physical walls in Palestine are a heartbreaking image, but the emotional walls are so much taller. The Palestinian people will only achieve their freedom and human rights by drawing attention to human rights abuses, and by engaging with the world community through peaceful negotiations. The Palestinian people will achieve their goals when the people among them become the new Nelson Mandela’s. Bombs do not destroy walls, they build them higher.

Let us be reminded in the image and words of Nelson Mandela that peace and our common humanity can overcome anything, and that it is never the violent members of a social justice struggle that achieve their goals.

It is easy for me, a privileged white male in Canada to say these things. I know that.

But I too dream of the day when I can tell my children about the walls that divided Palestinian children, children who wanted to play and run and jump and laugh just like them, from Israeli children who did the same. I dream of the confused look on their faces as I try to explain why people would wish to build walls to separate people from each other, and how every time this has happened, the walls have come down and the children have danced together.

Thank you Mr. Mandela for showing us that no matter how dark the night may be, the sun will rise again.

Edit: I left out a huge piece of the puzzle, so consider this the coda to my initial thoughts on Mandela and Palestine

It was not only civil disobedience and the weight of the world’s moral conscience that brought down apartheid, it was also disinvestment and sanctions. Apply this as you will to the current apartheid: in a state that receives a tremendous level of aid, and to which a new disinvestment campaign is beginning.

“Purity” and North American Culture

Dear Chevy,

If you want intelligent people to buy your cars you might not want to spam certain networks with ridiculous ads with the message “If a man only loves one woman for his entire lifetime that means he’s strong and good, therefore buy our trucks”.

First, (almost) nobody JUST loves one person in their lifetime, unless they’re killed at around 12 or 13 years old. The assumption here is that if you’ve loved more than one person you’re somehow less strong, or “used up”. I suppose it’s good that this sentiment is, for once, not directed specifically at women. It’s still reprehensible and destructive though.

Second, if someone says they’ve only loved one person, they’re lying to themselves or you. They’re either retroactively retracting “love” that they actually felt at the time, or denying the multiple people that they’ve met and had some degree of feeling for while in their supposedly hermetically sealed monogamous commitment, or drawing the line at which “lust” or “a different kind of love” is upgraded to “real love” in such a way that you can disqualify all the others. Agreeing not to have sex with other people doesn’t mean that you are wrong to have eyes for other people, emotionally or sexually.

The “purity” message and lies you’re promoting are damaging to many, many people and society as a whole. Stop it.

Conservative Paradise

Conservative Mother: Stop being a smart ALEC or I’ll ground you!

*Child pulls out a concealed handgun and shoots his mother to death*

Child: Sorry Ma’, I’ve got the right to stand my ground if you threaten me!

The child, who’s name we will change to ALEC for his protection, was correct in identifying his state’s “stand your ground” law as justification for killing his mother. ALEC was not convicted for murder in his mother’s death.

Thankfully this family lived in a state where pro-life legislation had been passed. The mother’s autopsy revealed that she was newly pregnant. Since ALEC was responsible for his mother’s death, he was also responsible for his embryonic future potential brother/sister’s death. For this crime ALEC was tried as an adult. ALEC was convicted of murder in the death of his future brother or sister and sentenced to death. 

ALEC and his family lived in a state that had courts stacked with Republican appointees as well as a Republican legislature. This means that while ALEC was not an adult, he could still be executed. Because ALEC and his family lived in a state with a Republican Governor, nobody intervened to stop the execution of a thirteen year old child.

Thankfully ALEC and his family lived in a pro-life Republican state where ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) owns the Republican legislators and courts, and therefore has no obstacles to passing their model legislation. There ALEC were able to make their model state come to life: a place where someone can get away with murdering an adult human being with a legal concealed weapon, but get put to death or incarcerated for long periods of time for ending potential human life. Also, a place where the state can kill kids. Because why not. 


Atheism Saved My Life

This incredibly brave account of mental health crisis moved me to tears. Please share.

Rational Ramblings

I was trying for months to think of a better way to begin this but the concise truth of what I’m about to compose just feels right.

Atheism saved my life, for had I been a religious person my life would have been over one year ago.

Unbeknownst to me, I have battled anxiety and depression for most of my 39 years. I had known something was not quite right and but thought I could control it. I tried St John’s Wort to calm my emotions, but found little help. I used Marijuana laced cigarettes helped me sleep when the insomnia dragged on into its fourth or fifth days. Although I had always enjoyed a beer or two after my evening shifts at my work, my alcohol usage became more prevalent about 8 years ago. Two beers became four or five; if I could fit them in before last call…

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Rob Ford! Now that I have your attention…

Forgive me for trying to mine something worthwhile out of the Rob Ford situation, but I can’t help but think that a very obvious and revealing point is being entirely ignored. As with all stories related to illicit drugs, nearly every Ford story has to start with a pun of some sort. Puns are apparently as close as the Canadian media can come to serious drug policy journalism. As someone who has opposed prohibition for years and has witnessed first hand the medias lack of seriousness surrounding drugs, it fails to surprise me that the fifth estate is guffawing like a group of ninth grade boys, as if they didn’t know that cunnilingus existed before Rob Ford spoke it into existence.

The sexual harassment allegations are worthy in their own right of serious treatment, perhaps by people better suited to do so than myself. What I wish to address is Ford’s excuse for why he did smoke crack, and how this perfectly represents how insane the war on drugs mentality is.

“Probably in one of my drunken stupors” has now entered the Canadian lexicon as a hilariously bad excuse made by an out of control man who has no ability to take responsibility for his actions. Why did Ford think this excuse would be at all legitimate?

When viewing the attitude towards drugs of the Conservative government in particular, and prohibitionists in general, it does actually make perfect sense and work as an excuse for the occasional smoking of crack cocaine. Lets first take the excuse itself. Rob Ford was so drunk that he didn’t even know what he was doing, and he gets this intoxicated very frequently. The prohibitionist sees little problem with this, as long as the drunk isn’t hurting others. Now, someone smoking cannabis, or hell, even crack, in the privacy of their own home and never causing anyone any harm, that is a terrible evil that must be stamped out. But getting so drunk you don’t even know what you’re doing, that’s okay because it’s legal and its only alcohol.

Why should this attitude be at all surprising to us? We do, after all, have a Prime Minister who responded to the question “have you ever smoked marijuana” with the answer “I was offered a joint once, but I was too drunk to take it”. Once Mr. Harper was done with answering that question he was ready to go back to protecting your children from the evil marijuana. Don’t worry, the PM doesn’t use marijuana occasionally in a responsible manner, he gets blind drunk. Sleep tight Canada, knowing your leader has his head screwed on straight and his priorities in order.

You see, it’s not how you use drugs, or for what reason, but rather what drugs you use.

It’s a sad indictment of our society that Rob Ford couldn’t say “Yes, I’ve smoked crack cocaine a few times in the past. I liked how it made me feel, I had a good time, and I haven’t used it in about a year or two. I never became an addict, I never had any issues with it and I’m not currently and never have used it on a regular basis”. To the prohibitionist that is a FAR worse admission than “probably in one of my drunken stupors”. None of this is surprising: when you base policy on decades or centuries old lies and misinformation and hysteria instead of science you end up believing all kinds of stupid things, and looking like a morally confused fool.

Let’s be clear here: it’s prohibitionists and not those who want to end the war on drugs that have a twisted view of morality. Ford’s excuse is that he smoked this less physically damaging drug because he was so incredibly intoxicated on a more dangerous legal drug that he didn’t even know what he was doing – a situation that could easily end violently with serious loss of life and livelihood for many. And he thought that would make it better in the eyes of the Canadian people.

There are several misconceptions here that underpin such an amazing statement.

First, no matter how intoxicated I get, alcohol is legal so it’s not a drug and therefore not drug abuse. In fact, it’s even something to joke about! (“I was too drunk to take it!”)

Second, illegal drugs cannot be used, they can only be abused. All use of illegal drugs is therefore drug abuse. (Except when its the mayor, or say, a certain prohibitionist conservative mp?

Third, and perhaps most importantly, zero tolerance means zero tolerance for first nations, students, women, people of colour, homeless people, and the working class… but never “zero tolerance” prohibitionist politicians.

Why I’m Here

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Travis Erbacher. I have a BA with a major in English and a minor in Political Science from the University of the Fraser Valley. I am currently working on a novel and shopping several poems and short stories to Canadian publications. This blog will be used to experiment with new literary techniques and to develop small parts of the projects that I am currently working on. Occasionally I will also review novels, poems, and short fiction that I am reading.

A few things:

At the bottom of the page you will find our Facebook page and my twitter account. Please like/follow.

Also at the bottom of the page you will find my other blogs.

If you are interested in professional wrestling, check out my wrestling blog World Wrestling Report

If you are a Philadelphia Eagles fan, check out my Eagles blog The Kelly Collective

If you are a migraneur/ interested in migraine headaches, check out Diary of a Migraneur

Canadian Drug Policy – Then and Now

I wrote this term paper for my comparative politics class and got an A. Here is a PDF. I think it gives a good, albeit very surface-skimming view of Canadian drug policy through the twentieth century. The early history is very important and most don’t know it. The disgusting treatment of Chinese-Canadians over the twentieth century includes our drug laws, which were specifically designed to bring about their destruction (see: genocide).

Canadian Drug Policy – Then and Now