War on Writers

From: Ian Goddard (Ian@goddard.net)
Date: Mon Feb 07 2000 - 02:13:41 MST


  By Ian Williams Goddard

  Peter McWilliams, author of the classic civil-libertarian
  treatise "Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do," [1] is facing
  up to 5 years in prison for growing cannabis, which he used
  to treat symptoms of AIDS. [2] In 1996, Californians voted
  to legalize cannabis smoking and growing for medical purposes,
  yet two years later McWilliams was arrested in California for
  growing cannabis to treat AIDS. By arresting a well-known
  author and activist for consensual activity approved by The
  People, the government is sending the message that democracy
  will not stand in the way of its war on consensual medicine.

  To prevent the possibility of justice, the court prohibited
  McWilliams from informing the jury that he has AIDS, that
  cannabis has therapeutic value for AIDS patients, and that
  California legalized the medical use of cannabis. In short,
  the court prohibited McWilliams' defense -- a kangaroo court
  by definition -- in an antidemocratic effort to override the
  law stipulated by The People. Having been found guilty of
  growing cannabis, Peter McWilliams now faces sentencing.

  When we also consider the recent persecution by the legal
  system of investigative journalists James Sanders and David
  Hoffman for their separate efforts to make evidence about
  the Flight 800 crash and the Oklahoma City bombing known,
  [3] it becomes clear that U.S. authorities are bypassing
  traditional restraints on the abuse of power -- restrains
  that differentiate democratic from fascist societies.
  McWilliams, Sanders, and Hoffman are all well-known
  authors and outspoken critics of the authorities, they
  are the "loyal opposition" by definition, and they are the
  kind of people who end up in jail in totalitarian societies.

  While being financially devastated in the process, both
  David Hoffman and James Sanders narrowly escaped prison
  time for their "crimes" against authoritarianism. Now
  another anti-authoritarian author, Peter McWilliams, is
  staring down the barrel of a 5-year-prison sentence. You
  may be able to help end this assault on both freedom and
  democracy by writing a *cordial* letter to Judge King on
  McWilliams behalf: http://www.petertrial.com/letters.htm

  [1] http://www.mcwilliams.com/books/books/aint
  [2] http://www.aclu.org/news/1999/n021899d.html
  [3] http://users.erols.com/igoddard/sanders.htm#15
  Also see: http://users.erols.com/igoddard/sanders3.htm


     My name is Peter McWilliams. I am a cancer survivor
     living with AIDS. I was arrested in July 1998 on
     federal medical marijuana charges, even though I
     live in California, a state that approved medical
     marijuana use in 1996.

     In November 1999, the federal prosecutors
     success fully obtained an order prohibiting me from
     mentioning to the jury that I have AIDS, that
     marijuana is medicine, that the federal government
     supplies eight patients with medical marijuana each
     month, or that California has a law permitting the
     very act that I was accused of violating.

     As I never denied my medical marijuana cultivation,
     that left me with no defense whatsoever. To avoid
     an almost certain guilty verdict and a ten-year
     mandatory-minimum sentence, I pled guilty to a
     lesser charge. (The whole story is at
     http://www.petertrial.com ) My sentencing for
     this charge will be on March 27, 2000. The
     deadline for turning in letters of support is
     February 20, 2000.

     Would you please take the time to send a letter,
     or a fax, or even an e-mail, to the judge on my
     behalf? It would make all the difference in my

     The letter need not be long or eloquent. One
     sentence is sufficient.

     The judge can sentence me to 0 to 5 years. The
     federal sentencing guidelines place my recommended
     (but not mandatory) sentence in the 5-year range.
     It is probably unavoidable that I get a sentenced
     to some time -- perhaps the full five years.

     What I am asking the judge -- and what I am asking
     you to ask the judge -- is that I be able to serve
     my sentence under "home detention," also known as
     "electronic monitoring." (An electronic
     transmitter would b permanently fastened to my
     ankle and my whereabouts would be monitored 24
     hours a day. I would not be able to leave my home
     except for medical or court appointments. As I
     live in Los Angeles, this will allow me to write
     my books, including Galileo LA.)

     In writing the Judge King, please observe these
     commonsense guidelines:

     1. Please be respectful. The judge owes me, or
         you, nothing. You are asking for a favor.
         When Judge King was asked to allow me to use
         medical marijuana while out on bail, he said
         to the attorneys on both sides, in a voice
         trembling with compassion, "I am struggling
         mightily with this. Please, struggle with me."
         Alas, there was nothing in federal law that
         permitted him to allow me to break federal law,
         even to save my life, but I believed the
         sincerity of his struggle. Personally, I don't
         want judges rewriting law as they see fit.
         Judge King is a good judge upholding a bad law.
         My sentence, however, is at his discretion.
         I believe he will be fair, that he will read
         the letter you send, and he will be moved by
         your heartfelt request. I believe we owe
         courtesy to the King.

     2. Please focus on my health
         and my contributions to society (through my
         books -- http://www.mcwilliams.com/books) as
         reasons why I should receive home detention
         or electronic monitoring (the term can be used
         interchangeably). The legal arguments will
         be made by my attorney.

     3. If you know me, please say so, and state any
         positive character traits you may have noticed
         wafting by from time to time. (This letter is
         not written under oath, so you will not be
         arrested for perjury.)

     4. If you have read any of my books, please say
         so. If they helped you, please say how.
         (Exception: Please do not mention "Ain't
         Nobody's Business If You Do." See 5.)

     5. Please do not give your opinion of the War on
         Drugs (unless you're in favor of it), how the
         government treated me in this case (unless you
         approve), your views on medical marijuana
         (unless you're against it), or anything else
         critical of the status quo. Save those
         remarks, however well-reasoned and accurate,
         for letters-to-the-editor. Such comments may
         be counterproductive in a letter to a federal

     6. If you can, please keep the letter to one
         page, and no longer than two.

     Actual letters (those things made popular in the
     last millennium, printed on paper, put into
     envelopes, and sent through the Post Office) are
     best. Typed is better, but handwritten is fine.
     Please use the most impressive letterhead to
     which you have legitimate access. (Your business
     stationery is better than your personal
     stationery, for example.) If you don't have
     stationery, you can create a letterhead on any
     word processor in about two minutes.

     Please address the letters to "The Honorable
     George H. King" and begin the letter "Dear Judge
     King,". Please mail the letters TO ME at:
     Peter McWilliams, 8165 Mannix Drive, Los Angeles,
     CA 90046.

     If you know you're probably not going to get
     around to writing a letter (and I know just how
     you feel -- I don't know where to find an
     envelope any more, much less a stamp -- please
     send a fax (signed, on letterhead, if possible,
     but if not, that's fine) to (323) 650-1541.

     If you think you might not get around to sending
     a fax, please send an e-mail. Please write at
     the bottom of the e-mail "You have my permission
     to reformat this letter, print it, and sign my
     name at the bottom." Your name will be signed
     for you, next to which will be the initials of
     the person signing it. Please include your
     complete mailing address. The e-mail address is

     Finally, please circulate this request as widely
     as you can -- post it on bulletin boards, send it
     to receptive people on your e-mail list, send it
     out in newsletters, put it on your web page.
     Kindly use your creativity, but, please, no

     If you cannot post the entire message of this
     missive, the online address of this request is

     Thank you from the bottom of my weary but very
     grateful heart.

     Peter McWilliams

WACO BOMB?: http://users.erols.com/igoddard/wacorom2.htm

  "There are times when you cannot keep your job and
  put alternative explanations for data on the table."
   Former FBI Special Agent Dr. Frederic Whitehurst


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