Small Minds Discuss People…

An interesting development has occurred in recent months which is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and it hasn’t been pretty. For the past several months there has been a campaign waged against the leader of CLEAR, Peter Reynolds. which has taken the form of a “cyber bullying” campaign. What makes this perhaps even more strange is the fact that I have known quite a few of the people involved for a considerable period because they are people who have been involved in the law reform campaign for years.

I’m not new to all this, I first dabbled in the law reform movement in around 1978 with the original Legalise Cannabis Campaign, albeit in a very small way in that I used to put “LCC “stickers on London underground trains, stuff like that, nothing big time. Things changed in about 1992 when the The “Campaign To Legalise Cannabis International Association” (CLCIA) started up here in Norwich and I’ve been running this website, UKCIA, since 1998. I was also there at the start of the old LCA and even stood in an election under the LCA banner in 2005. I parted company with them around 2006 as the outfit seemed to go into terminal decline.

I first came across Peter Reynolds about 18 months ago because of a BBC programme being made about medical cannabis. Peter had somehow arranged for “Pinky” (a well-known person on the cannabis scene) to travel to Holland in order to bring back some medically prescribed cannabis (see here). Peter was starting up the ill-fated medical cannabis register, the BMCR, and it’s fair to say I fell out with him at the time – I made no secret of it and it’s all explained in this blog . It’s true to say I was somewhat wary of Peter originally. However, this was to change.

The other group worth mentioning at this point isn’t a campaign group at all, but a website dedicated to growing cannabis: UK420. Given the nature of the site and it’s – er – ‘main reason for being’ it’s always prefered to keep a low profile but recent events have come close to getting it unwanted attention. At one time UK420 had the best activist forum (members only, you have to subscribe to view it). It was a place where everyone met and discussed things and there are some well-known law reform activists there. Like all forums UK420 has its regulars and some have been posting there just about everyday for years. Over time however it became a place dominated by arguments and insults and bickering. The LCA were the first to feel the wrath of UK420 members and for many years the “old guard” of the LCA were treated with derision on UK420, but perhaps not without good reason.

Anyone considering getting involved in debates on UK420 is best warned that you do need a vogon-thick skin, but again that’s probably true of many forums.

I had split company with the LCA back in 2006. Now I can’t really say this any other way but the LCA were a joke. It was almost as if they had gone out of their way to make the cannabis law reform campaign look daft, presenting the worst image of cannabis users they were the awful “unwashed hippy” stereotype writ large. It had become the the focus of ridicule – not just on UK420 – and it needed to be put out of its misery.

So it was with some interest I noticed that in late 2010 Peter Reynolds pops up in the LCA and is immediately promoted to spokesman. How that came about was down to the “main man” at the LCA, someone who I have known ever since my involvement with the CLCIA. It’s fair to say we have never really hit it off and although we both support cannabis law reform, we seem to do so for totally opposite reasons. Add to this his perhaps unusual characteristic of trusting people he doesn’t know more than those he does made him a difficult person to work with. Again, this all history and for anyone interested in the death throes of the LCA, it’s all here

The really important if very small-town point to all this is that the LCA generated a steady stream of alienated people who often migrated to UK420 where they either became additional objects of ridicule themselves or settled into the community.

Peter Reynolds had already engaged the wrath of UK420 before he appeared on the LCA. All this is really so small-town , given the millions of cannabis users out there, plus the unknown millions of non-users who support some kind of law reform it is little short of stunning how often the same names seem to crop up.

Anyway, Peter had arrived at the LCA like a gale and within a short period of time had stood for election as leader and had taken control. This was possible incidentally because despite existing for over 10 years and claiming to be the main cannabis law reform campaign in the country the LCA only had around 70 members, which perhaps shows how much of a joke it had become.

Peter didn’t waste time, he did what was needed and revamped the LCA into a modern, professional campaign called CLEAR. Frankly, I was impressed and when I was asked to take on the CLEAR website in late summer, I did so willingly. Since then I have got to know Peter as a real person, not as someone on the end of a computer terminal. I do not agree with a lot of Peter’s politics, but then I don’t agree with a lot of people’s politics and that doesn’t stop me working with them in my professional life. We do agree on the sort of law reform campaign that’s needed, the sort of image it needs to convey and the aims and objectives the campaign should have.

For the first time we have, in CLEAR, a cannabis law reform campaign worthy of the name. From the start this seems to have annoyed some people. Very shortly after CLEAR was formed a hate site appeared (Peter Reynolds watch), this was shut down but soon re-appeared. Unknown to the rest of us Peter was getting a constant stream of hate posts for some months. Just before Christmas the ex-main man of the LCA starts a page on Facebook demanding Peter step down from CLEAR.

A strange – and frankly almost suspicious – thing then happened. People who had only months before been at each others throats for years joined forces to dig the dirt on Peter Reynolds. All the usual suspects were there, people well-known from UK420 in particular, but also people who had been ridiculed in tha past on UK420 and even the old guard from the LCA; the very best of enemies united in the single cause of attacking the leader of the most successful cannabis law reform campaign this country had ever seen.

Now it has to be admitted that Peter did give them some free ammunition. Before his involvement in the cannabis law reform movement, he had been a serial blogger and some of his comments were, perhaps, written in a language which some might have considered ill-advised. He discussed thorny issues such as immigration, saying how communities he had known as a kid had changed due to mass immigration, he touched on that hot potato that is the Arab-Israel conflict and more besides. These were his personal blogs and has always claimed they were written to be controversial. They were also known about before he stood for election at the old LCA.

It has to be said that Peter had written a lot of blogs, of which only a handful contained these controversial comments, but what we got was a Facebook campaign against him based on them which claimed to show proof that he was a raging homophobic racist, all run and coordinated by the newly united band of previous enemies who have been joined by others in a campaign which can only be described as obsessive.

Over the months Peter Reynolds has been accused of being:

A Police informer A Homophobe A racist A sex pervert In cahoots with big pharma

And probably a whole wedge of other things besides.

Things first came to a bit of a head on Christmas eve, when I was away from home visiting the rellies for at the festive period. I took a break from the enforced festivities and checked the CLEAR site where I saw that Peter posted a very aggressive comment, when I saw it I phoned him and it was then I discovered the extent of the campaign he’d been enduring for months. He was, it transpired, under a hell of a lot of lot of stress because of it.

As it happened and entirely by coincidence after Christmas I had a staff dev day at work where we told about “cyber bullying”, a development which Facebook has made a very real problem with kids. We were told how to spot it and how it affects the victims and it’s fair to say that what was happening to Peter ticked all the boxes. His reaction over the next several weeks was typical of someone under stress and he made some unfortunate mistakes in that time. The rest of the CLEAR exec also came under pressure from this band of people on a mission, however most of us have stuck by Peter, only two have not.

 

The CLEAR Facebook page then started to get spammed by this group of people telling Peter to resign and encouraging members to resign, so yes, there has been filtering of comments on the CLEAR Facebook page and website and comments have been deleted – I’ve been doing a some of it, as have other exec members, although the need to do so seems to have dropped off in recent weeks. It’s probably true that some people were blocked unreasonably, but most were not. CLEAR’s websites are not there for people who want to damage the movement, they exist for CLEAR to promote its campaign and policies and that is what we are doing and will continue to do.
The MP’s Peter had cultivated relations with have withdrawn their Facebook connection after being approached by these people, who then spread the fact around as evidence of a loss of support for Peter.

 

Perhaps worse, and certainly in an unbelievable development, a Sunday Mail reporter was engaged by them to write a shock horror probe style story about Peter. For the record taking a story designed to hurt the cannabis law reform movement to the Mail – of all papers – is about as low as you can go. Whether it would have had the desired effect though is open to debate, somehow I can’t see a dissing by the Mail as really being something that would hurt CLEAR, quite the opposite in fact.

 

This groups of obsessives likes to consider itself representatives of the “cannabis culture”, of course they can seriously claim no such thing as cannabis users come from every walk of life and its a fair bet many – if not most – would want nothing to do with them. But through a hatred of Peter Reynolds they have been drawn together like never before and have dedicated hours and hours of time and effort to the cause, albeit for an entirely destructive reasons.
They are even following CLEAR around the local press when people post comments to local papers under the “comment warrior” campaign, which will have the effect of undermining the message CLEAR is making about bad press reporting of the cannabis issue.

 

There have been other things as well, but enough’s enough.

 

The amount of time and effort this group has put into the anti-Peter Reynolds campaign has been impressive. If they were to put a fraction of this much effort into real law reform campaigning we would be well on the road to success by now, but they don’t and on the whole never have.

 

Now it has to be said that some of them are genuinely ill people, some of them indeed are housebound or at least disabled and so perhaps spend unhealthy amounts of time on internet forums, but not all of them are. The possibly only thing most of them have in common is that they are heavy long-term cannabis users.

 

Much fuss has been made in the media about the prohibitionist claims about cannabis – such as “reefer madness” and other major health risks, most if not all of which have been shown to be over stated at best and totally false at worst. This over hyping of alarmist claims has produced on the other side the “harmless herb” mindset; if cannabis isn’t the killer they claim, it must be totally harmless.

 

Now, let’s be quite clear about this: On the scale of harms cannabis is pretty safe. Being a heavy drinker for example will damage you physically and mentally, indeed it will probably kill you if you hit the bottle really hard. Even at the extremes of heavy cannabis use, nothing like that is going to happen. But to assume from that nothing will happen is a little unwise. Nothing on earth is totally, 100% safe, life just isn’t like that.

 

Perhaps what this campaign against Peter Reynolds seems to demonstrate is that long-term heavy use of cannabis gives people the ability to become obsessive about issues. A recent post to my Facebook page came up with this:

 

Great minds discuss issue
Medium minds discuss events
Small minds discuss people

 

What we have seen is an exaple of very small minds at work. Cannabis has long been associated with creativity and enlightenment and when used to focus energies that is undoubtably true, but it isn’t necessarily true that this will always be a good thing for everyone.

 

Perhaps there is another explaination though because I am, actually, more than a little suspicious of this whole charade. It does seem that the amount of time that’s been put into this whole exercise is the sort of time only an employed person could afford to give. Now, really, who doesn’t want to see an effective cannabis law reform campaign? Answers on a postcard.

160 thoughts on “Small Minds Discuss People…

  1. Tom, you’re not even a member of CLEAR, yet you seem to think you have some kind of right to tell Peter to stand down? What planet are you on?

    As for your comment about aligning myself to Peter’s views, I assume you know the quote often attributed to Voltaire (but actually from Evelyn Beatrice Hall): “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. Clearly that’s not something you would agree with, is it?

  2. And then there was the comment someone by the name of flux5000 made, that post stated that the person wasn’t going to come back, to which reynolds said, and I quote “good”.
    Realising how bad that made reynolds look you promptly deleted it.
    Incredible, so much for a so called political party based of openness etc.

    Was that you that deleted it or was it reynolds? Either way a lot of people saw that happen and that makes the both of you look really bad. Off course you will have some other story or angle to it as you always do, you two are never wrong ‘eh? Funny that…..

  3. You are a political party, you would, I assume, wish to swell your numbers? Well, by deleting the posts I referred to earlier you are not going the right way about it.

    And the quote you mention, well I have defended peoples right to free speech, I have even lost family members defending that right, what I will not stand for is people like reynolds making homophobic or racist comments, I take it you do defend his right to make such comments.

    What have you done for this country? Nothing but defend a homophobic racist, oh, and give out bad legal advice.

    Do not go spouting off about defending free speech when you delete comments that do not agree with your point of view. It a bit rich, to say the least.

  4. As the leader for the article states, “Small Minds Discuss People…”.

    The thing is, and it is something you miss completely, is that the thing people are discussing is principle, not people.

    You are oh so happy to divert the conversation derek, as usual…. The fact is you don’t get it and neither does peter. This is the reason so many people have reacted as they have.

    I don’t expect you or peter to get it for one second though.

  5. Tom, you are demonstrating why your posts to CLEAR got banned – that’s four in one evening from you! Make that five, you’ve just posted another one. Stop now please.

    There are four moderators on the CLEAR FB page, I am one of them.

    So you will defend “to the death” opinions, but not those you dissagree with eh? Make your mind up, the right to free speech is either worth defending or its not, there can be no exceptions.

    However, that right to free speech does not extend to forum you do not own, which exist to promote an organisation. You are there as a guest and have no right to say whatever you like on those forums.

    Do not come on to my forum and expect to insult me in any way you wish, and learn the simple truth that you have no right to do that on a forum run by any organisation.

    If you want to express you opinions freely, do so on your own blog.

    Now please stop spamming my forum. Thank you.

  6. “So you will defend “to the death” opinions, but not those you dissagree with eh? Make your mind up, the right to free speech is either worth defending or its not, there can be no exceptions.”

    No exceptions? Not even for homophobic racists. As I said, you are being tarred with the same brush.

    I was replying to your comments, obviously that isn’t allowed and you class that as “spam”.

    If you were genuine you would treat everyone no matter what they said with respect. Obviously you don’t know the meaning of the word, you even refuse to answer my points.

    Anonymous will be giving you boys a visit real soon no doubt, as will I, if you have the balls to turn up in Cardiff, which I doubt, you are too chained to your computer counting your likes on FB….

    See you soon derek

  7. Answer my points as I have answered yours. You run a blog, you invite responses then refuse to answer the responses you don’t like.

    It’s like a small child that doesn’t like the way the game is going so he takes away the ball, pathetic.

    Make your mind up Derek, you can’t have it both ways….

  8. Tom, I’ve just looked again at you last six posts and it’s hard to see any coherant question I should answer, the are all dominated by rather stupid insults and threats.

    Let me explain, again, why I support Peter in all this. Simply, I pay by results and he has come up with the goods; he said he wanted to create an intellegent cannabis law reform campaign promoting effective control and regulation of the trade and based on proper scientific evidence. He wanted to build a campaign free of the terrible “old hippy stoner” image it had under the LCA. That is what he has done. It’s something that no-one has done before – especially the core of people involved in this campaign against him, many of whom have been around the scene for a great number of years.

    CLEAR is a single issue organisation, cannabis law reform is the only aim and the only issue, it’s the only reason we all work together.

    Peter has not made any of these comments in the name of CLEAR, or since he became involved with CLEAR other than some regrettable outburst caused by stress. His views were known about when he was elected by the old LCA, they were not a secret and no-one complained about them at the time.

    His views are not mine, his politics aside from cannabis law reform are not mine. But having different opinions on a range of issues does not prevent me working with him on this one specific issue and credit where it is due, he is bloody good at it.

    As I said in a reply to weedol up thread, I don’t view his comments as racist to be honest; nationalist might be more accurate. Whilst not agreeing with them I do accept they are the views held by a great number of decent enough people. Had a more measured and focused criticism of his remarks about LGBT people been made, I might have had more respect for that argument however.

    This campaign against him hasn’t been limited to his blog comments though, it’s broadened to include a whole raft of allegations which are simply off the wall crazy.

    You are not privy to the internal discussion we have had over the past couple of months and you’re not going to be.

    Does that answer the questions you never actually got around to asking?

  9. why oh why oh why have the reynolds detractors stopped posting their ineffectual nonsense on this page??? no need to answer because i know why…no ammunition left…next time you cretins try and act together make sure you are not stoned first….all the bullets have been fired now and there is just no ammo left to give any credence to your calls for pr to resign….if you want to fuck someone over and you think you may have something to throw that may stick you should throw a bit see what happens and then when that is nearly over chuck some more…never mention the first bit when talking about the second bit….the only effect of your barrage of half truths and exaggerations has been to strengthen your opponents and diminish yourselves…attempting to conceal your identities when calling someone dishonest just wont work…over 9000 likes on facebook more than all the others put together…it was a nasty and stupid campaign from the start and will prove an embarrassment for you all to bear for a long time

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