To the editor,
It is ironic and sad that a month that began with a front-page article in the New York Times reporting peer-reviewed academic scientific research validating numerous prior anecdotal accounts of the beneficial effects of the psilocybin mushroom upon those suffering from conditions like depression and anxiety, has ended with local news of people in Brooklyn facing lengthy prison terms because of antiquated laws that ignorantly treat the mushroom as something heinous (“Fungus among us!” by Julianne Cuba, online Dec. 21).
Indigenous cultures, ancient high civilizations and contemporary bohemian subcultures have integrated the shamanic experience successfully. So can 21st-century New York, in this age when much that was once science fiction is now blossoming all around us. Mushroom enthusiasts tend to be spiritually-oriented creative intellectuals and mellow bohemians whose activities do not create the social problems we associate with addictive drug abuse. Police resources should not be wasted on persecuting them.
Psilocybin does not have a propensity to be addictive nor hard on the body. It is used infrequently for a vision quest on special occasions, not habitually (in contrast with how even relatively-benign and legitimately-medically-useful Cannabis commonly is). The choice of appropriate settings for its use could be fostered and made socially expected by issuing event permits for legal distribution of single doses at music concerts, at rural camp-outs, and at ceremonies by ritual performance artists, with some type of licensing for private use by accredited individuals who have a shamanic calling. Use by parishioners as part of religious services by incorporated churches of any denomination that declares the mushroom to be their sacrament should be recognized as covered by the provisions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Doctors should be allowed to employ it as a medicine in therapy for patients with relevant afflictions.
Medical utility is only the tip of the iceberg of the mushroom’s significance, for it can enable access to profound unexplained phenomena involving inhabited realms more complex than our own.
Twenty-first-century Brooklyn is a hotbed of creative activity and entrepreneurship by new tech startups. Inspiration from the mushroom’s enigmatic and expansive domain should be available to our artists, musicians, writers, architects, software designers, and inventors.
That the key to experiencing an ensouled, inhabited and interactive multi-verse is found in symbiotic communion with the fruiting bodies of another kingdom of life conveys a sense of our place in the ecological wholeness of Gaia and the integral place of our biosphere in a larger spiritual ecology. Those who have seen what the mushroom reveals are characteristically inclined to treat nature with reverence. More access to this experience could help foster idealistic cultural transformation and muster the political will to address the worsening environmental crisis.
As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, I hope that the courts will be lenient with these entrepreneurs, recognize that mushroom prohibition is rooted in a dated “Generation Gap” cultural controversy, and view this incident more like someone manufacturing nutritional supplements, growing the herbs of a botanica, or brewing communion wine. There is a growing political consensus that Harm Reduction is the best approach to drug issues in general, even with the more problematic addictive substances that do not have the mushroom’s healing virtues.
Cary Robyn and the
To the editor,
In response to my letter, Elaine Kirsch asked me if I have solutions to improving the traffic situation in Brooklyn. (“Sound off to the editor,” published Dec. 31). I do.
The way to improve the traffic situation is to encourage the use of mass transit to lessen the reliance on the automobile. Also, to not allow over-development by replacing single-family homes with six-family condos everywhere, while granting waivers for the required number of parking spaces.
As for attempts by the Department of Transportation to lessen our traffic problems, I wonder what attempts Ms. Kirsch could be referring to. The city is not attempting to reduce traffic problems and is responsible for increasing them — for one by intentionally putting traffic signals out of sync so that as one signal turns green the following one turns red in order to slow traffic, not improve it.
If you prefer slow traffic because you believe it is safer, then don’t also complain about the congestion when you are on the bus. Slowing traffic inconveniences everyone. Better policing (not DOT’s responsibility) reduces accidents and increases safety.
The way to encourage the use of mass transit is not by removing bus stops as DOT recently did in Sheepshead Bay, causing extra walks and missed connections. Improving bus service and restructuring outdated bus routes, which the MTA deems too expensive, is the way to accomplish that.
Ms. Kirsch also states that safety takes two, the driver and pedestrian, which was the exact point I made in my first response. Drivers who text when they should be looking out for pedestrians are just as guilty as inattentive pedestrians crossing the street while texting. Allan Rosen
To the editor,
I am infuriated by Robert Lobenstein’s callous letter “Weak Snowflakes.” Mr. Lobenstein, I love dogs and was upset by Donald Trump’s victory, but I do not consider myself a “snowflake.” I assume that, from the way you look down upon people who have seen psychotherapists, that you have never been to one. Does this make you a superior human being?
Don’t you realize that therapy dogs have a calming effect on harried passengers in airports and equally harried shoppers in crowded malls and could prevent needless violence? You say that people in other countries laugh at us. Don’t Russians have psychotherapists and therapy dogs?
I have found that when I have to stand on a long line at my neighborhood bagel shop and someone brings a pet dog into the shop I can stand there and happily pet the dog and forget the line ahead of me. Does this make me a “snowflake”?
Dogs and other animals bring a lot of happiness and comfort to patients in hospitals and nursing homes.
I shall never forget a little old lady who was sitting on a bench outside an assisted living facility, holding the leash of the residence’s King Charles Spaniel, Charlie. She very proudly announced to me, “I walked Charlie!” Incidentally, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth owns and loves King Charles spaniels and is comforted by them. I don’t think either the lady who was so proud to have walked Charlie not Queen Elizabeth are “Snowflakes.” Do you?Elaine Kirsch
To the editor,
In response to “Oh Shoot!” (by Julianne Cuba, published Dec. 23). It was many years ago when I got involved with the community council at my local precinct. I was asked would I like to go to the civilian police academy. Since I had no idea what I would learn, I accepted. What I found out: it’s nothing like what you see on all those TV cop shows.
Each week we had a different instructor giving his or her expertise on what each rookie must go through. One week we did the simulating shooting. We went in pairs, and we made the same mistake of shooting everyone. What I learned: the cop has one second to determine whether to use his gun. I and the president of the community council were invited to go up to the Bronx to the shooting range. There we were given goggles and ear muffs to make sure no bullets would hit us in our eyes and the ear muffs to keep the loud sounds of the guns being used.
To the editor,
According to the NY Times, our borough president, Eric Adams, was able to reverse his diabetes and lose 30 pounds in eight months strictly by changing to a vegan diet. Marty Markowitz, his predecessor, talked a good game for years but left office looking about the same as when he started.Harvey Karten
To the editor,
As Obama prepares to leave his failed presidency, his biggest concern is tying loose ends. As I write this, he is scurrying to release the Islamic terrorists housed in Guantanamo Bay and to pardon or commute the sentences of prisoners in U.S. jails who have committed crimes against society. This, along with his eighth-year failed stint as Ideologue-in-Chief defined the American voters’ choice on November 8.
As for Obama’s legacy, there is none. A legacy is reserved for one who has performed good deeds for country, people and humanity, in general. Obama has done none of the above. It is his failure that woke up the sleeping giant, known as “working-class America” whose members took their revenge on an incompetent crooked bungler known simply by “Hillary,” much like “Elvis” or “Liberace,” except that the latter two gave us pleasure, while the former gave us grief.
The Democratic consortium is crying, refusing to accept president-elect Donald J. Trump’s victory. The denial core wept, protested and even threatened the Electors that voted on December 19. In addition to crying and refusing to accept the results of the election, the younger in-denial consortium (America’s future “leaders”) was provided with psychiatric help, play dough and puppies by their colleges and universities. If that wasn’t enough, those colleges and universities declared their higher order of learning institution “sanctuary dwellings” where illegal aliens can either study or hide from the law.
Hillary Clinton lost due to a multitude of reasons, among those: She is not a well-liked pweson and she is properly viewed as distrustful, with a personality comparable to that of a piece of lint. She, Bill and Chelsea made a conscious decision to use Hillary’s Department of State position to solicit money from near and far for favors when elected president — and she destroyed the e-mails that would implicate her. She refused to provide reinforcements during the Benghazi Islamic attack, causing four American deaths, which she later lied about. In addition to the above, the Hillary Clinton’s sleaze spans some four decades, all without consequence – until now. Voters accomplished what four decades of law enforcement could not accomplish: Indict and convict Hillary – but in a court of public opinion – and deny her the presidency.
Still, an irrelevant Jill Stein who received some 1 percent of the popular vote demanded a recount in which Mr. Trump picked up more votes. But that wasn’t enough; Democrats threatened the Electors, with Michael Moore offering to bribe some of them. After the Electors soundly rejected Hillary, Obama blamed the loss on Russian and WikiLeaks hacking, FBI Director James Comey’s disclosure that Hillary is a crook (we all knew that) and I’m sure many other factors that we don’t know of yet. I’m surprised that Obama did not Blame George W. Bush.
So it’s over. On January 6, in a joint session of Congress, Joe Biden will unseal the Electors’ results of all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and pronounce Donald trump the victor. Still, the usual suspects are hard at work to throw a monkey wrenche into the 45th President’s plans to “Make America Great Again.” To those inclined to waste the next four years to hurt America, I have a message: Donald Trump was elected because Obama, with your help, failed and America was going into an abyss in which it might never recover: A $20T debt, slow economic growth and few jobs along with a depleted military, a stronger and emboldened enemy with a nuclear Iran and an open southern border,
With President Trump, we, at least, have a chance. Do any of you understand that? Probably, not!