Rabbi Matthew S. Kent, president
Peyote Way Church of God
To be fair, the Weekly should print an utterly biased article that speaks of the wonderful qualities of the Peyote Way Church, which has helped so many people get their lives straight (a concept perhaps foreign to those who consider peyote a "drug"). The resident clergy have dedicated their lives to the selfless service of others and the preservation of the sacrament peyote.
If Weyant had dug just a little deeper than "shallow," he would have found that there is no doubt, scientifically speaking, that peyote is endangered as a species, due to neglectful harvesting practices and land encroachment by oil and cattle interests (which would have made a much more interesting story).
As for "violating basic journalism ethics"(too late) by "paying a fee for access to a story," tell me, does Jimmy Boegle get his meals for free when he does his restaurant reviews? The difference between researching those two kinds of articles is that it takes a lot more resources to provide a Spirit Walk than lunch in a restaurant. What Weyant does not seem to get is that this Church exists by and for its members.
Peyote Way does not have a stated goal of "wrestling from Native Americans their legal exclusivity to a plant they hold sacred." We just hold that it is sacred for all of our Creator's children. Peyote Way has never engaged in "marketing (peyote) to the world like a Happy Meal for the soul," though it is made obvious by this article that some people aren't even ready for that.
By the way, that Mercedes out front is not parked there; it is stuck there, with one tire and no engine, but those facts just wouldn't have supported the insinuation that these people are high-falutin' peyote dealers. Also, what happened to the dog you abandoned at the gate?
Peyote Way clergy/Board of Stewards member
I abhor Weyant's lame attempt to sensationalize an otherwise good and pertinent story on peyote and religious freedom. Here is a guy with an opportunity to tell a "real story," especially in this day and age, when some of our basic Constitutional rights are being threatened, and instead he uses it as an opportunity for vengeance just because he felt he deserved a "free lunch" and was too cheap to pony up the $200 to do a Spirit Walk. Better yet, he couldn't figure out using the "fossilized turd" affixed to the inside of his skull to offer to volunteer his time working at the Church in exchange for a Spirit Walk.
I try to walk peacefully in this world, but people like Weyant rub me the wrong way. There comes a huge responsibility with being a journalist, and Weyant has shirked those responsibilities in favor of his own agenda.
Weyant makes it sound like members are doled out peyote and turned loose in an inhospitable environment. This is not the case. On both the Web site and in literature provided to members, there are a number of things suggested to bring on the Spirit Walk, not to mention the time spent with the clergy beforehand. If a person should show up unprepared, I'm sure their needs would be taken care of.
Regarding the Spirit Walk donation: If the Tucson Weekly was unwilling to donate the money for Weyant to take a Spirit Walk in the name of ethical journalism, why did they donate the $50 for Weyant to join the Peyote Way Church? I find this very contradictory. They were willing to pay $50 for a story but not $250? What was the purpose? (Note: The $50 condition was stated up front by the church when Weyant approached them about the story, and the Weekly agreed to it so Weyant could legally join the church. However, the $200 was requested only after the church had agreed to let Weyant participate in a "Spirit Walk.")
I feel Weyant's sardonic and juvenile attitude is despicable. The stench permeates every inch of his article. He should have all his pens broken in two, handed back to him and be made to show everyone the ink stains on his hands like a scarlet letter for his transgressions as a so-called journalist. Maybe this is a little harsh. I try to practice what I preach. So I forgive Weyant and the Tucson Weekly. Please take this to heart and be more responsible in your reporting of stories that affects people's lives. Go out into the world seeking the truth and aspire to be more ethical in your pursuits, and not just another tabloid.
But hey, the seeds are free! The pods fall all over town. Just stick them in the ground, and they know what to do. A little shade can reduce ground temperatures by 10 degrees, which really makes a difference. Tucson gets a little cooler, and we may no longer worry about permanently welding our palms to a burning hot steering wheel.
Thank you for bringing this to our readers' attention and also for so many considerations of different aspects of the problem.