Reviewers are often not amused by Terence. It’s clear that many are unfamiliar with his work and find themselves caught off-guard by the boldness of his advocacy. I received a copy today of one such review. The review is of the 2nd edition of Richard Glen Boire’s excellent Sacred Mushrooms and the Law booklet and appeared in Mushroom: The Journal of Wild Mushrooming Vol. 16 No. 4 (Issue #61, Fall 1998). The reviewer, Harley Barnhart, an amateur mycologist and accomplished mushroom photographer, found much to praise in the concision and thoroughness of Boire’s treatment of the legal formalities and ambiguities of the relationship between mushrooms and the psychoactive chemicals which some of them act as “containers” for. Barnhart, however, had no such praise for McKenna’s Foreword. Indeed, he offers much derision, noting a “rancorous” tone and a “contumacious” attitude. As a career military man (Barnhart spent more than three decades working for the U.S. Air Force, from 1943-1974), perhaps it’s not surprising that Terence’s willful disdain for authority was particularly salient for our straight-and-narrow reviewer. That said, Terence’s antinomianism is not particularly hidden, either. The very first words of his Foreword, quoting Charles Dickens, read (all in caps): “THE LAW IS AN ASS.” He goes on to offer Boire’s booklet as a “manual” for “anyone caught in the Kafkaesque danse macabre of ‘preparing for defense’.” He castigates the “underbelly of American justice” and its “moronic response” to drug use, a system which he finds is too “eager” to “trample rights” and to “extinguish forms of religious expression outside the ‘Christian family’.” For McKenna, the “constipated judicial mind” with its “absurd prosecutions” has produced a “folly” composed of “contradiction” that is symptomatic of “social decay.” It is perhaps, then, not entirely surprising that someone (Barnhart) who committed his entire adult life to fulfilling his role within a system of governmental authority might not find McKenna’s appeal particularly compelling.
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