Re: Go Ask Alice & Drugs in the Sixties (multiple posts)

Sat, 14 Jun 1997 05:16:55 -0400


From: Tom Condit <>
Subject: Re: The Author of GO ASK ALICE

At 10:38 AM 6/12/97 -0800, Nigel Sellars wrote:

>Certainly Dr. Sparks' misuse of
>another teenager's journal raises questions of unethical behavior.
>What does everybody else think?

I thought the connection to the Satanic stuff was most interesting. There is
a national network of fundamentalist Christians and Mormons (which Sparks
might or might not be part of) which sparked the whole furor about "Satanic
child abuse" in the 1980s. You can get the pattern of this in Debbie Nathan
and Michael Snedeker's book _Satan's Silence_, but it is of course right out
of a whole long American tradition of fantasizing about the dangers of
"losing control" which extends way back in history. When it comes to drugs,
it got particularly loony. Remember "Reefer Madness"? Or the book by the
head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (now D.E.A.) which was the flip side
of the Ace double-book edition of William Burroughs' _Junkie_?

I think one of the biggest problems with drug use in the 1960s (and today)
was that it was hard to tell people about the real dangers and problems
associated with various drugs when they were surrounded by obvious lies.
Once a kid had figured out that marijuana use wasn't going to necessarily
either (a) addict him or turn him into a heroin addict or (b) cause him to
rape his grandmother and kill his dog with an axe, it was a little hard to
persuade that the warnings about PCP were actually true. The solution to all
this, of course, is to keep cops and preachers away from social problems.

(Then, of course, there's the racial angle to all this. Nobody got much
worried about opium until the anti-Chinese campaigns of the late 19th
century, and marijuana first became a matter for federal legislation as part
of the campaign to deport all those [allegedly] "pot-smoking Mexicans" in
the 1930s. Of course, both drugs were as widely used among anglos as anyone
else, but the imagery of alien, insidious invaders with their exotic drugs
was handy for political purposes.)


From: "V. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Re: Go Ask Alice, Drugs, & the culture of the Sixties

> Re: drug use in the sixties: drug use in any generation has the
> potential for destruction. That is true of any chemical we ingest
> whether medicinal or recreational. It was my experience that drugs
> used in the 60's by people that did not want to lose control and drop
> out did not have a negative effect on their lives. That was true of
> any form of stimulation or recreation. The idea was to heighten the
> experience of the day without taking control away.

I just logged onto this group but had to contribute something about drugs
in the 60's. I was at SF State in l966 and then to have smoked pot or
dropped acid was a sign of membership. We knew who had and who hadn't. It
was a way to gain admission. Then I transferred to Oregon and because the
drug scene was just hitting, I was ahead of everyone else. Again, we knew
who had and who hadn't, who did drugs and who didn't. I had professors
who would take polls. I remember sitting in the student union and this
guy from San Francisco would find girls who hadn't smoked pot and tell
them to just drop some acid instead because it was easier. The next day
these "sorority girls" would come into the student union wearing bells,
transformed into "members." Because it was against the law, I always
believed that those who chose to do drugs were willing to take the risk
of being an outlaw. Then it was easy (especially in a small town) to be
busted for one seed. The coffeehouse lit a candle on the nights when
there could be raids and we all went home to vacuum. I never had a bad
acid trip or regretted all the drugs I did. I went to classes loaded,
but then many of my professors also were. It didn't seem to matter. But I
do remember thinking, without the drugs bonding us together, would we
have much else in common? But it is difficult to separate out the drug
culture from the political one. We were involved in everything at once.
It seemed like the people who were making waves in the arts then were
also political and also did drugs. You were either on the bus or
off...anyway, that's how it was in Eugene. We believed we were
experiencing something that was unusual and that we'd look back on as
being great. I am still friends with many of my friends from back then
and we seem to have retained many of our hippie values, ways we look at
the world, ways we interact with others, beliefs. WHew, I could go on and
out about all this.