Letters for the week of November 6-12, 2002 

Should it surprise us that the left thwarts free speech? Should it surprise us that the Machine Elves aren't benign?

Free speech, bah! The left's legacy is speech suppression
Good article on NPR's hypocrisy regarding low-watt stations (Planet Clair, October 30).

Personally, I find no contradiction between their Nation-mag-left-liberal ideology, and their history of encouraging suppression of microradio. After living ten years in the Bay Area, I've come to the conclusion that the most rule-crazy, repressive people in America are the early-Baby-Boomer, relatively affluent, white-university-educated, straight Democrat-voting types who constitute that network's core constituency. These people are, to a wo/man, wimpy, self-absorbed, passive-aggressive bluenoses who have absolutely no tolerance for any questioning of their stuck-in-1968 worldview and sociopolitical agendas, much less for any media outlet that might offer real alternatives to the kind of bloodless liberal "Kumbaya" mentality they proffer.

Ironically, rightists have been among the biggest supporters of microradio. The Libertarian Party has supported lifting the FCC restrictions on low-power broadcasts for decades. The conspiracy-theory types have been running operations similar to Dunifer's across the US for years. And if nothing else, the sheer amount and extremism of wingnut-left nonsense emanating from "alternative" radio provides plenty of material for talk-radio pundits and the like on which to conduct their calculated liberal-bashing crusades.
Mike Marinacci, Oakland

Beware the Oaxacan Machine Elves
I just got back from Mexico, and funny that you should mention the Machine Elves, aka the Transformational Machine Elves of Hyperspace (Planet Clair, October 23). You can see them play with their Legos on DMT, but you get their other side on mushrooms. Just ask Ben. I met him in the Oaxaca City zoca last year, with long stringy hair and a big army duffel bag. Wide Manson eyes. He was on his way to Brazil overland with no passport, and he had a little dent in the middle of his forehead. He was looking for weed. I didn't have any, but we talked for a while about his travel plans and he noticed my eyes on the dent a few times. So he told me about it:

"When I got out of the Army I started growing my own mushrooms, pot, and peyote, and I also had a vine of ayahuasca that wasn't doing too well. I would eat mushrooms until my stomach was completely full and I would lie down to trip. I met the Machine Elves and at first they were really cool. They gave me a lot of information, but they finally said they had some very powerful secrets to share but I would have to prove myself first. They had been right so far, so I agreed. They told me to drill a little hole in my forehead and receive a normally fatal wound that would heal itself. The reason for the hole was so that I could extract fluid from my brain. This fluid was to be injected into seven other people, who would become my slaves and push my political rise.

"So I got a power drill. The bit went through my skull too quickly and into my brain. Blood squirted everywhere and I looked down and saw the dog eating a little piece of my brain. The doctors thought I was going to die, but after a couple of days the hole in my brain closed and I was okay. Then they put me in a mental institution.

"The psychologists tried to tell me I was crazy, but I told them that people have been getting knowledge from drugs for thousands of years. Drugs told them when to plant their crops and when to hunt, so who's crazy? I was in there for a couple of months. They let me out, but I was still facing charges for the plants.

"When I got home I noticed my ayahuasca vine had started to grow. The cops hadn't recognized it, and it started to grow because it knew I really needed it. Anyhow, I started using the vine and I met these beings of pure knowledge and beauty who told me to go to Brazil and go far out into the jungle and only eat certain vines and roots. There is a man who is going to teach me shamanism and I'm going to stay down there. At a certain point there will be all kinds of people like me putting out positive energy at certain points all over the world."

With that, Ben's wild gaze shifted to the Day of the Dead festivities across the plaza and he grew silent. I urged him to avoid overland travel through Colombia, and he slung the duffel bag over his shoulder and slinked southward. Never saw him again, but watch out for those Machine Elves. Ben said they're greedy and deceptive, though costumed in childish glee. I talked to someone else who remembered seeing them around when she was a child and thought of them as benign. I can't say for sure: I hang with a different set of spirits -- ever heard of Nino Fidencio?
Gil Jose Duran, Emeryville

If we drug-test students, only politicians will have drugs
I am responding to Justin Berton's October 16 article "Reading, Writing, and Urinalysis" that chronicles the questionable tactics by the Dublin school district to impose a random drug-testing policy to all students in extracurricular activities.

Drug testing in schools, from athletes to chess club members, is a total invasion of privacy. The Supreme Court ruling last June, spurred by a deadlocked case in Tecumseh, Oklahoma, felt that any student was privy to random drug tests because of the rights they gave up due to being in the public spotlight. If this is the case, why then did the Supreme Court strike down a Georgia law in 1997 that required political candidates to take drug tests, spurred by the reported drug-abuse problems of the state's elected officials?

I went to the Dublin Board meeting on October 22, fueled by curiosity of the school board's reasoning to implement such a policy. After about one and a quarter hours debating the issue, it became quite evident that it was a logistical nightmare: From costs of the drug-testing equipment to the possible legal entanglements, this was not going to work. The Dublin school board, however, is going to bring the case to the people in November with town-hall type discussions.

Let us have foolish hope that the suburban parents of these children know how to distinguish learned concern from Orwellian love and do not take our Supreme Court's dual stance on the matter.
Joseph Ramirez, Pleasanton

Corrections
A typo in last week's cover story on bank robber-turned-writer Joe Loya erroneously indicated that he hit his first vault in 1998. It actually was 1988. And in 7 Days, Micki Weinberg's name was misspelled. In our October 23 issue, we misspelled the name of Yusuf Bey. We regret the errors.

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