A Band That Rocked the Vote

I'm not speaking in an official capacity for my bandmates in Misbehavin', but I personally feel a bit sheepish about the embarrassment of riches we received at the TAMMIES ceremony. There are many deserving bands and individual musicians in Tucson, but whereas their fans are--who knows?--too stoned and/or apathetic to be bothered with voting, our fan base encompasses a more mature demographic: people who understand the importance of exercising their franchise, including many who fought for the right. After all, in our democracy, it's the popular vote that elects even presidents, except perhaps for the U.S. Supreme Court's Critics' Choice Award in 2000 that went to George W. Bush.

Hey, at least we didn't win for Best Reggae Band; that indeed might have hinted at some voting irregularities. Oh, and on a personal note, I may not have deserved the award I received for best bassist, but my embarrassment was somewhat mitigated by the beating I received at the hands of a disgusted Brian Bromberg, who waylaid me in the parking lot afterwards.

Ron Zastaury

Aliens' Tab Could Make Us a Third World Country

Linda Bayless' reasons that we should welcome people breaking our laws with open arms are faulty and dangerous (Guest Commentary, June 10). Americans love to help those less fortunate. However, it is common sense that giving away billions of hard-earned dollars that Americans have worked for (especially now with trillions of dollars of war-related debt)--and forcing Americans to pay the tabs for those breaking our laws--will help destroy our nation and will make us a Third World country. Ms. Bayless needs to realize there is not an infinite amount of money, and we need to take care of Americans first. We have our own unemployed and poor.

There is a right way and a wrong way to enter this country. LEGALLY, terrorists, foreign criminals and those with contagious diseases can't come in because of our required background and health checks. Our laws are fine; they are just not being enforced.

There is absolutely no reason people cannot come in legally! Illegals choose to break our laws! Our laws, when enforced, not only protect all American citizens; they protect immigrants. Do not be fooled by the word-game that pro-illegal activists play: "Illegal aliens" are not "immigrants." "Immigrants" come through the immigration system.

Last year, Arabs were caught from 11 different countries sneaking across the Mexican border. Do you think all of these are coming for jobs at Circle K? If lawbreakers are given amnesty, do you think they will stop breaking laws?

Yes, let's make a moral choice, but not one that destroys our country or puts our people out of jobs. If we are to exist as a nation, let's take care of Americans first. Why are we paying for lawbreakers who aren't even from this country? Let Mexico take care of their own poor, and let's take care of ours.

Am I anti-immigrant? No. I actually love immigrants, because I am a daughter of immigrants--real ones.

Laura Leighton

Peyote Way Coverage Included Unfair Allegations

As an American and as a proud member of the Peyote Way Church of God, I must take exception to the characterization of my church and its leaders by Glenn Weyant ("A Trip Down Peyote Way," June 10).

Mr. Weyant gives readers the impression that the church aims both to mass-market peyote with the intention of enriching themselves financially and to deprive Native American Church members of the right to use the sacrament. Neither allegation has any connection to the truth whatsoever.

Think about it: Would the paltry revenue the church generates really be sufficient to induce these people to risk spending the rest of their lives in prison? Mr. Weyant fails to mention that church leaders have faced legal threats repeatedly over the years, and that given the thousands of Americans currently in prison for possession of related "psychedelic" drugs, such threats are very real indeed. It should be immediately obvious to anyone who peruses the church Web site that it is a sincere organization maintained by people who are bravely risking everything in the name of what they believe is right.

As for the church working to deny Native American Church members the right to use peyote, nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that many members of the Native American Church support trans-ethnic peyotism. Indeed, at present many children of NAC members are prevented from following the faith of their forefathers simply because they do not have the requisite 25 percent Native American Ancestry. Such restrictions are a perversion of the American way and both the letter and the spirit of the First Amendment.

Peyote is not a recreational drug or a drug of abuse. It is a sacrament that is used within a clearly defined ritual context and one which has provided immeasurable benefits for those who have opened their hearts to its teachings. Please do your readers the benefit of taking a more objective look at this subject in the future.

Peter Vanderkloot

Peyote Way Written by 'a Spoiled Child'

Shame on you for printing the self indulgent ranting of a spoiled child! I am a freelance writer in Denver, Colorado. In late May, I spent four long days and nights with a photographer interviewing the adults, children and teenagers at the Peyote Way Church of God. What a different view we came away with. But then, as freelance writers, we do not have the privilege of being able to regurgitate any garbage we want about fossilized turds. (Note: Glenn Weyant is himself a freelancer.)

Since you seem to place so much credence on blood lines, perhaps you should have sent a reporter to the PWCG who had ties to the community he was writing about. Also, Immanuel Trujillo, who is Apache, was a Native American Church road man for many years. Seems you all forgot to discuss why he left. But then again, it appears your interview got a little off track.

I can tell you first-hand that many people, including full blooded Indians from Mexico, where the peyote was originally used, believe strongly that whoever is called to the medicine--including blacks, whites, Indians, Chicanos etc. --should be allowed to use the medicine. Weyant implies that only Native American Church members can ensure proper use of the medicine. If he had researched his story (as we have for six months), he would have realized that almost all cultures happen to have had ethnogenic plants used by certain individuals who were called by the spirit. If you now live in North America and are called to the medicine that is native here, who has the right to question that calling?

Most people who use the medicine have a special reverence for life. Take Immanuel Trujillo, for example, the war vet who opened the church for many years to drug addicts. Peyote is often used to help cure addictions. Trujillo, Zapf and Kent allow no drugs, tobacco, alcohol or meat on the property. Far from a paranoid hippie commune, these people are dedicated environmentalist and humanitarians. But that fact doesn't make good copy, does it?

Weyant's article on the Peyote Way Church of God is offensive to all journalists. His opinions on the lay of the land, the church buildings and an old decrepit Mercedes (oops--"gleaming," that is) in the yard was sophomoric sensationalism. What was that article about, anyway? Silly boy, you don't go to a Catholic Church and demand a quiencenera for your 15-year-old daughter for free. For $200 you are entitled to stay at the church for three days, read, mediated, camp, help with chores, be productive and just plain get away from the city life. For $200, you are helping support a church that operates on a very meager budget, and if you do not have the money then your time and talent will work. This is not a '60s acid trip, dude.

Renee Fajardo

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