Good Idea Gone Horribly Awry

First a little background. I first struck up an email friendship with Peter McWilliams after reading his book “Ain’t Nobody’s Business – The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in America” many years ago. It was at a time in Peter’s life when he was very active in the medical marijuana movement, having stumbled onto the relief the drug gave him in combating the nausea brought on by his AID’s medicines. He was eventually jailed and charged for conspiracy to grow medical marijuana. This was clearly a retaliatory measure from the DEA to silence him and his inspirational message on the subject.

As part of his plea deal to avoid continued incarceration, he was forced to stop using cannabis to control his nausea or face a long prison sentence and forfeiture of bond (his mom’s house!)

His compliance with the orders of the court saved his mom’s house, but cost Peter his life. Shortly after sentencing, Peter ended up choking to death on his own vomit from the uncontrolled nausea the marijuana had previously abated. While you may never have heard of Peter, he was high profile enough to have attracted the attention of a John Stossel (on 20/20), who did a segment on his death at the hands of the police state. Peter died in 2000.

Fast forward to 2010. A person I’ve never met, a seemingly gently soul with a desire to honor Peter’s memory, sets up a Facebook tribute page on behalf of the memory of Peter. She’s been amazing in her efforts to honor Peter, going so far as to write a tribute song which has received a fair bit of radio play. She’s also working on a video to honor Peter as well. She saw one of my pro-Peter posts and invited me to join the Facebook group which I promptly did.

At the time, I was totally unaware that there were ulterior motives behind the effort. Perhaps ulterior is too dark a word. Maybe “competing interpretations of Peter’s life” would be more accurate. Peter was many things to many people. That’s not up for debate. The problem with the tribute page on Facebook is that it’s being run, not as a PUBLIC tribute (why Facebook then?), but as a repository of goodwill specifically tailored to make his mother feel better about her son. Therefore, some aspects of Peter’s politics and passion are NOT WELCOME on the page, lest it ‘upset’ the remaining members of his family. I have been chastised in private messages from the group for mentioning aspects of Peter’s work, simply because of family politics.

I can understand the desire to shield the family, but I do not agree with the idea one bit. I’ve mentioned topics that Peter wrote and spoke of loudly and proudly when he was alive. Subjects he took the time to commit to his writings and public speaking venues. Subjects that not only was he was passionate about, but that I am passionate about as well. The latest smack-down from the group aimed at me comes as a result of my mention of Peter’s stance towards legalizing prostitution.

In the bizzaro world of Peter’s Page, such topics are considered taboo because of the aforementioned family sensitivities. I might feel more compassion for their position if Peter himself hadn’t been so forthright on these very same issues when he was alive. Peter never shied away from confrontation about issues he felt strongly about and neither do I.

Why the family should feel shamed by discussions surrounding the subjects so near and dear to Peter is puzzling. I can’t help but wonder how far Peter’s Page wants to take this newly found protectionist attitude? For chrissakes folks, we’re talking about a fellow who confronted not only the medical/prison industrial complex, but also the issue of his own homosexuality in a society openly hostile towards same.

His family should feel no shame at all. They should be angry about the way he was treated by authorities and proud that he stood up for what he believed in. The work that Peter did in advancing the cause of medical marijuana has advanced greatly since his death. That said, even the Obama administration, despite public statements to the contrary, is still raiding medical cannabis dispensaries in states that have legalized it’s use in that regard. The war is far from over. I will not let the memory of a fallen comrade, nor the advancement of the goals he believed in, be glossed over for the sole purpose of defending the delicate sensibilities of family members he himself apparently discounted when he was still alive.


45 thoughts on “Good Idea Gone Horribly Awry

  1. I notice how you didn’t include the comment that you posted . Others might appreciate this in order to judge of your interpretation of what is appropriate .
    maybe you were just rude!

    • Feel free to use any of my words against me, just don’t expect me to do the work FOR YOU. You are decidedly RUDE for your ad hominem insinuation of my motives or character. Perhaps you’re lazy as well?

  2. i love all that peters page has done and to want to protect his family is to be commended- i wish families or loved ones or friends were more compassionate- that is what peter would want- where is the love?

    • Protect Peter’s family? WTF? Peter wasn’t even about protecting Peter, or he wouldn’t have stuck his head up so high as to have the powers that be figuratively chop it off. My motives are the same as Peter’s. Protecting the rest of us. Maybe you’re one of those people who’ve only read the touchy-feely new-age gobbledygook that Peter wrote? Maybe you’re unaware of the speech he gave at the Libertarian presidential convention shortly before he was, for all intents and purposes, assassinated by the state?

      I still haven’t gotten an answer from anyone on how it is that Peter himself was so loud and proud (about the very causes so many of you complain about me reminding the group of) when he was alive, but now that he’s gone we’re all suppose to pretend otherwise. Are you insinuating that his family didn’t support him at the time. Were they embarrassed and ashamed of him back then, or is this a more contemporary consideration?


  3. Hi Tim, I have followed Peter’s page for quite sometime now, and am proud of what Julia has done to honor Peter with her work. However, in reading the above blog post, there seems to be a large resentment for what you believe to be a withholding of certain information that would hurt his family members. Instead of criticizing the motives of someone who may care about others feelings on certain subjects, maybe you should start a page of your own to discuss those sensitive issues, and not point fingers at someone who has honored his memory the way she sees fit to do. Just a suggestion.
    You obviously as well cared deeply for Peter, and I am sure he would want any and all that loved him, and regardless of wether he had many relations with his family, his mom still loved him. Us mothers love our children no matter what they do. So that said, being respectful of the feeling of others is not such a bad thing. God Bless.

    • Julia is a saint. She’s doing her best to appease and coddle the family. In return she get access to family memorabilia, much of which she’s shared with the group. This is about me not understanding what it is in Peter’s life that his mother feels he/she ought to be ashamed of in the first place.

      It’s an issue of definition. None of the libertarian positions that Peter openly embraced and wrote about (legal prostitution, drugs, gambling) are reasons to be ashamed of him. He was gay. There’s no shame in that either. The family efforts to sugar coat their memory of him are baffling to me. They have NOTHING to be ashamed of and everything to be PROUD of. Their son was truly a national hero, and if we ever get a President with any balls, he ought to be posthumously awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom.


  4. I never met Peter though I’ve read quite a lot of his books (including LIFE 102 which I believe Peter took off the market) … I think Peter would have loved what Julia is doing to help keep his memory and work alive over at Facebook. I also see nothing wrong with protecting his family from unwanted attention.

    • The issue of ‘the family’ has been injected into the forum by Julia and others. As far as I know, nobody is really interested in paying attention (wanted or otherwise) to any of Peter’s surviving family. It’s “Peter’s Page”, NOT “Peter’s Family Tribute Site”. Any “attention” the family is receiving as a result of Peter’s Page seems to be caused by their involvement thereof. There’s also the issue I have mentioned in other posts. The family has nothing to be ashamed of in the first place and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.

  5. I can’t understand what he’s so pissed off about with Julia! Seems like he just can’t appreciate her level of love for Peter. She has a strong following for Peter. Maybe he doesn’t like the competition! lol! Don’t stop doing what you do for Peter, Julia. Bunk the other guy!

  6. Well written article. Your title “Good Idea Gone Horribly Awry” is a bit misleading. Everything has a purpose and a mistake folks frequently make is trying to force one thing to be everything.

    Peter’s page is a good idea, but it has not gone horribly awry. The page’s mission is to share love for Peter and his memory. Your article reads like you need to set up your own Facebook page for Peter. The more the better.

    I’ve been a fan of Peter’s Page and the work of Julia Rose since the beginning. I’ve read and lived many of Peter’s books since the 1980’s and am a certified fan.

    One of the problems I’ve had with the marijuana movement is the lack of attention we pay to our heroes, i.e. Peter McWilliams mother who put up her house and went through the death of her son over his politics by the government that she pledged allegiance to.

    You wrote “They should be angry about the way he was treated by authorities and proud that he stood up for what he believed in.” Common sense says she and the rest of his family has already gone through anger over his death over the last 11 years, so your “should be” when you did not witness their reaction is irrelevant to the existence of Peter’s Page. Do you not think his mother loved him enough? What else it it you think his mother needs to do to prove to you that she has experienced sufficient anger? How to satisfy folks one has never met?

    It is difficult if not impossible to make one page work for all. Julia put up Peter’s Page on Facebook, that shows his 80 something year old mother the truth, that her son’s work is still loved and being used, while promoting his books. The “ulterior motives behind the effort” was that Peter’s mother learn that her sacrifice was not in vain.

    Peter’s work is still having a positive impact on the world, and the focus of the page is the positive, for which I’m grateful. I’m helping a friend with Stage 4 head and throat cancer and in the conversation called ‘there is no such thing as stage 5 cancer’ I quoted much of Peter’s wisdom like his book title YOU CAN’T AFFORD THE LUXURY OF A NEGATIVE THOUGHT.

    The “newly found protectionist attitude” is just love in a particular form.

    Peter’s visionary title AIN’T NOBODY’S BUSINESS IF YOU DO would make a great Facebook Page. That would be a perfect place for you to post your mission work of carrying on Peter’s ideas about prostitution, which I also agree with.

    Julia Rose, the founder of Peter’s Page is doing the best she can with what she has to work with. Nobody or page can be everything to everybody. Together, we can have it all.

    Much love and blessings to you and yours. Let me know if you put up a page on Peter too. I’ll “Like” it too.

    Lord bless you.

    • Probably the best comment to date. I know that his mom put her house up to keep him out of jail. I’m not insinuating that she didn’t love him. Most mothers would do the same in her situation whether they supported his politics or not. This protectionist reaction is what baffles me. I’m sure Peter had his demons, foibles and other human deficiencies (don’t we all). I’m not posting ‘dirt’ on Peter.

      I’ve not posted anything that I would consider upsetting to the family IF THEY TRULY SUPPORTED HIS POLITICS in the first place. I’m starting to wonder about that, NOT about whether they loved and cherished him as a son/person.

      I do think I’ve run up against a bunch of people who embraced Peter MUCH more for his insights in compassion and life than for his outspoken views on more controversial subjects.


      • j nayer speaks words of truth tho and instead of listening you put of the wall of how you want it to be, instead of allowing that there might be two ways of looking at things, and that maybe his mom or even julia have a right to remember peter how they see fit. i am just guessing here but maybe they are trying to tone down the controversial political or moral aspects, and focus instead on the underlying warmth and wisdom and love of the person. and perhaps in his mothers case, the pain of thinking about the differences she had with her son during his life, now makes it difficult for her to deal with those issues. Do you really think that peter would want his mom to be distressed over any of this for any reason at this point in her life?

        re read what j nayer says, she make sense and has a brilliant idea, make your own page for peter – and celebrate that there is enough love out there for peter to go around, and there are so many aspects and levels of peter and peter’s life that his memory just too darn big to fit comfortably on one page.

      • I totally ALLOW that there are many points of view. It’s the freaks at Peter’s Page who wish to build a shrine to Peter as if he were some later-day saint. The group seems to leans heavily towards those people who enjoyed Peter as a poet and self-help guru. Exactly the type of group think that no doubt once led Peter down the drain (his own cult experiences). In fact most of the responses I’ve had are really not that surprising to me. What is shocking is that there are apparently at least a few homophobes, ready and willing to defend their memory of Peter by……drumroll….accusing me of being a pissed off homosexual. Go figure.

      • For whatever reason you and me and millions of others are drawn to Peter’s work and are implementing it in our lives, we are overcoming now.

        Really, let me know if you are going to post a Facebook page on Peter’s AIN’T NOBODY’S BUSINESS IF YOU DO. If you are not going to do it and the meltdown in Japan is prevented, I’d love to do a page on that book.


  7. Hey! I know for a fact that she did speak on HempRock Radio.
    She’s also been keeping dialogue going with Jodie Emery, etc.
    In fact, it seems like she’s “put it on the line” several times, and that “Concern for the family” certainly is not a limitation on remembering him as he was.

    • I don’t think it’s the hemp issue that has the family recoiling in horror, but I honestly don’t know. I think it has to do with my mention of his support of legal prostitution that started the uproar (among some in the group). Julia is between a rock and a hard place here. Looks like the only way the internet is going to get a truly open place to discuss and honor Peter’s more ‘controversial’ positions is if I make one myself.


    • First put down the crack pipe. Then turn off the CapsLock. Then read what I have actually said before you go off half cocked and make yourself look like the raging idiot I so hope you aren’t.

    • In honor of Peter I think you should stop bashing someone else’s work Tim and get back to your own.. If you feel the need for Peters agendas to be public. Start your own page, I understand you did not know him personally, that you two had an e-mail relationship, so please, unite for the cause, be respectful of others who have done great work, and if it is so important to you, do some great work of your own while endorsing the work of others as well.. It will make you look much less abrasive than the attitude I can feel through the computer when I read your posts.. shame, shame, Peter would not want you to be picking on those that knew him personally and loved him the most. Just some good advice. Chow.

  9. If you don’t like Julia’s page, why don’t you put one up yourself. You come off here as a self-appointed arbiter of Peter’s heritage and a self-righteous ass. My interaction with Peter began when I sent him a copy of one of my books. He read it, liked it and gave me valuable advice about publishing and promotion. We exchanged letters from time to time. I was saddened and greatly angered when he was murdered. Your criticism of Julia’s page shows more about your own pathology than it does about the website. I repeat, if you think there are aspects of Peter’s philosophy and political views that are not best served by the site, create one yourself instead of carping about how Julia’s site doesn’t merit your terribly valuable approval.

    • That’s pretty obvious already. You’re the old guy who yells “GET OFF MY GRASS!” and says stuff like, “These persnickety upstarts have no business messing with MY memories of the past!!”


  10. I think the above article is nicely written & respectful. Perhaps been taken out of context.
    I too am a fan of Julia & through her work on Peter’s Page have learnt a lot about him.
    Due to family issues I guess we haven’t been able to learn the Real Peter in all he’s many facets. Each Peter’s Page can share what they desire too, but lets keep an open mind…. I think it’s what Peter would like.

    I would like to know when you start your page as I would love to learn more about Peter & what ALL he stood for.

    Also like to thank Julia for her hard work & total dedication, which I believe you wrote with respect about.

    • Thank you for taking the time to write a reasoned and sensible comment. I harbor no ill will towards anyone even if some of my responses are a bit callous. Peter was polarizing without trying to be (because of the subject matter–public relations sensibilities). I don’t mind using my innate gift of polarization (you either love me or you hate me) towards what I perceive as the advancement of human rights.

  11. Just what are you trying to accomplish here Tim?? I really am curious what the point is. Are you jealous of Peter’s Page and the love that is shown there? Some have said you are a disgruntled lover of Peters. Is it that. I mean if you want everything to come out then lets get it out there about you. It seems you love Drama…something Peter’s Page isn’t interested in. I wrote to you in private and you responded with less than kind remarks. So no more private for you. We, as Peter’s fans, have said over and over what it is we love about this page and you insist on making it something that it will never be. I myself have read everything about Peter
    r and still do not find it necessary to comment on everything he did. Your need to bring attention to yourself in a dramatic way and away from Peter’s Page is pitiful. You are not winning friends here in case you havent noticed. Just go start your own page. Stop trying to become part of something you are incapable of understanding.

    • What a bunch of cult minded freaks you guys are turning out to be. Your ill-mannered conjectures on the reasons for my original post sound like the kind of thing a religious proselytizer would say to a skeptic. Seriously. Fucked. Up. WE, as Peter’s (old cult)Fanatics ??? Gag me with a spoon. WE?

  12. WOW That made you mad didn’t it. You are really an odd sort of fellow aren’t you. You don’t care who you make mad or hurt (I am not one of them) but when someone gets to you then we are “cult minded freaks!!” I don’t care about you being an old lover of his at all if thats what you were, but i wasn’t the one that suggested it…you put yourself out there Tim. You should expect what you are getting. Is it really necessary for you to use such foul language in your come backs or are you just so furious at me for suggesting you come clean about yourself? And yes, WE….That is WEEEE ….you know…as a group….a group who loves Peter’s Page and Peter’s writings and what he stood for… Are you serious??Gag me with a spoon??? That’s funny. Who are your friends Tim? You can’t hurt me at all…I am so past hurt after losing a child that this is nothing to me. You are an insensitive man without a heart. I feel sorry for you.

    • Bingo folks. We have a WINNER. First commenter to speculate that my sexuality might have something to do with my position on Peter and his work. Weak response, and a bigger insult to Peter than anything I could ever have imagined. Of course I’ve found most religious fanatics and rightwing homophobes generally rely heavily on such ad hominem sophistry. I just never thought the hypocrisy deep enough to invoke as a means of impugning my character. At the end of the day it wouldn’t matter if it were true, but it would be news to my wife. What kind of weirdos and closet homophobes has Peter’s Page attracted? I know that some are mad I mentioned Peter’s support of prostitution, but I guess I was also unaware that it was an unspoken rule not to mention his sexuality either. Somebody post a list on what is and is not appropriate to mention vis-a-vis Peter over at Petey’s Palace of Perceived Profundity.

  13. What in God’s green earth motivated you to write this pathetic attack piece o a wonderful person trying to do something nice in this world?

    How shallow, pathetic, cold-hearted can one be? What pretense do you use to justify this purely mean-spirited swipe at someone you do not know?

    The title of this blog is boldly accurate. This blog is a urinal that you use to piss on others.

    Your life must be shit.

  14. Although I agree with your stance on promoting all of Peter’s ideals, I also agree with the fact that Peter’s Page is Julia’s to do with as she wishes. You wrote earlier that a lot of the people on this page were introduced to Peter through his lessons on life and love; I think that this best describes the reason why your heated exchange is unnecessary. There were two very contrasting sides to Peter: the activist and the poet. This page is for Peter McWilliam the poet. If you think that he deserves a page dedicated to his political views, then as suggested before, you should make one yourself.

    It’s true that a lot of Peter’s standpoints were controversial at best. What if his mom just plain doesn’t agree with prostitution? I don’t think kid-gloves are always the best approach, but at the same time, ignorance is bliss. Julia was inspired by the poetic words of Peter, as opposed to his ideological motivations; hence the reason she always posts his art. Peter was a lot of things to a lot of people, and I don’t think any one page or group of pages could sum up the complex man he was.

    It’s a discredit to his memory to engage in such childish disputes. I hope that you take the time to think about why you’re hurting somebody’s feelings for no apparent reason other than to be right. There still are times where it’s proper to be politically correct, you know? Ever heard of do unto others?

    • ….for Peter McWilliams…the poet.

      Nobody sent me that memo when I first joined the group and it’s not readily apparent from the info page either:
      Peter McWilliams: poet.
      publisher. photographer. author. activist. amazing human being.
      Believe me when I tell you that I’m NOW fully aware just what a subset of Peter fans I’m dealing with. Since I’m no fan of self help books (they’re a dime a dozen – no offense to Peter) and I find poetry rather tiresome (be it Peter’s or Charlie Sheen’s), you won’t have to worry about me despoiling the fantasy world you’re creating for yourself and the surviving family members. You can all sit around holding hands and singing Cumbaya, while the really important social aspects of Peter’s work is marginalized. You know what I’m talking about. The very issues that got Peter killed. Sorry to interrupt the twiddling of your thumbs and toes to bring you that important information.

  15. You are a narcissistic asshole. Go find others to torment and make enemies of. Your article was uncalled for and no one wants to read your bull again.

    • I seldom watch the same movie twice, and it’s not my desire to torment anyone. If you wish to become an enemy of mine that is your choice. If you think the article was uncalled for, that’s your opinion. It’s up for debate among your peers at Petey’s Page exactly what I am. The list is building. I’ll add narcissist to the tally. Wonder if it should go before or after “angry ex gay lover of Peter’s”?

  16. Tim, At the risk of being rude, I refuse to justify your article with a comment. In doing so would give it a false sense of validity to which in my opinion has gone terribly awry. Sorry Mate, it is what it is. DELETE!

    • That’s unlikely to happen. There needs to be a record of the responses to my message, so as to document the cult-like response of the members at Julia’s page. So far I’ve noted at least TWO people who are gay baiting homophobes, who think that inferential slander on the subject of my sexuality is not only relevant to the topic, but fair game for use in an ‘honest’ discussion of my grievances. Not only is this obnoxious in the extreme (since Peter WAS gay), but it’s entirely more distasteful than any I would have imagined any supporter of Peter would do. It’s exactly those types of responses that make my point regarding the cult mindset (ala Scientology) I’ve encountered.

  17. Julia does NOT condone homophobia anywhere on Peter’s Page. Everyone is respectful of Peter’s sexuality and anything less is not tolerated there.

    Reading through these comments, the way I read it, is that a couple of people felt you were being homophobic.

    I’m sorry you feel the page is cult-like. You could always delete yourself if you feel so uncomfortable and dissatisfied. But I see you’re still a member of Peter’s Page so you must get something of use out of it.

    I am not here to bash you. Not everyone is, despite what you might think about Peter’s Page. Just stating my opinion in a respectful manner.

    Enjoy back. And have a great weekend.

    • It hardly matters what supposed subject I went rogue on over there any more. I can’t think of a SINGLE topic (outside of Peter’s cult involvement) that reflects negatively on him. Not his homosexuality, not his Libertarian positions vis-a-vis prostitution, gambling or drugs. Nothing. And it stretches the credulity of common sense to believe that the original ‘ex-gay lover of Peter’ insult was a response in kind because there is no history of me anywhere on Peter’s Page or elsewhere on the net of me attacking any homosexual cause, although my posting history IS full of disdain for closeted homosexuals who act against their own best interests. Ted Haggard immediately springs to mind, but he’s not the only Larry Craig example I can point to.

  18. Nice trick Tim…by attacking, you achieve instant feedback when folks normally would not give you the time of day…!
    When folks defend or don’t agree…put them down!
    Peter McWilliams words…Honor Him.
    Tim’s words…belittle him and make him appear mean spirited.

    • I don’t roll up into a fetal position and cry when people start to kick me. I fight back. If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. Peter this, Peter that. Peter was as polarizing a figure as I have ever befriended and I don’t remember him feeling the need to apologize (e.g.) to any of the gay-baiters or religious blowhards who were constantly dogging him.

    • I don’t roll up into a fetal position and cry when people start to kick me. I fight back. If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. Peter this, Peter that. Peter was as polarizing a figure as I have ever befriended and I don’t remember him feeling the need to apologize (e.g.) to any of the gay-baiters or religious blowhards who were constantly dogging him.

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