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Torsten

anyone willing to do on-camera interview about ayahuasca?

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You should have let Pauly off his chain.

Paul wasn't here that day or this could have ended up messy - although far more satisfying ;). Found out from my solicitor that the previous advice I had about how to deal with media was wrong and could have landed Paul with an assault charge. It's good to work though this crap with solicitors every now and then.

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Found out from my solicitor that the previous advice I had about how to deal with media was wrong and could have landed Paul with an assault charge.

Could you expand on that?

Not so much what Paul did (i have no idea who that is), but the appropriate response to media intrusion?

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Check this picture out for a graphic demonstration for what drugs can do to a person, who has not taken them (and ought to know better; apologies to Tim Leary.)

post-3719-0-09604400-1344854509_thumb.jp

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Could you expand on that?

Not so much what Paul did (i have no idea who that is), but the appropriate response to media intrusion?

My previous advice was from a security firm [and confirmed by a solicitor] who had given me lots of detail on how to deal with intruders. This included being able to use reasonable force to remove any intruder after having given him certain warnings and ample opportunity to withdraw. This advice is WRONG. This only applies to when there is immminent threat of harm to your person, another person, or your possessions. This is not justifiable in the case of media intrusion.

However, my solicitor was a bit shy to give me details on such a complex issue without going into more detail. It is something we will work on over the next few weeks and I will report back here. There are provisions to do a citizens arrest for trespassing, but he was very cautious about this. Like I said, we have a lot of other stuff to discuss right now and will deal with that soon.

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Hiyall,

I have been a bit busy of late, so haven't had time to read the entire contents of this thread. Please accept my apologies if I am repeating what already has been said.

In any case, I have submitted a formal complaint regarding the Seven News report via the online complaint lodgement system: http://www.freetv.co...laintStep1.aspx

Given that I have framed my complaint as a breach of section 4 of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice , they are required to respond to me within 30 working days, assuming that they don't brush me off on a technicality.

http://www.freetv.co...of_Practice.pdf

I encourage everyone else to submit similar complaints, particularly if you live within the Sydney catchment area. The more formal complaints, the greater the chance that they'll retract the piece, or do one that is more in tune with the reality. I know that many people here value their privacy, but you don't need to say that you use the compounds. Just say that you found the report inaccurate, unfairly biased and needlessly denigrating of the culture, religion and spirituality of traditional societies.

I will also be getting in touch with Dr Fulde and trying to engage him with the scientific literature. He has shown considerable sense in the past and would be a good person to have on board.

Although I probably should have come up with a word to replace "sensationalism", my complaint is as follows:

I am writing to complain about the "Shaman Australis" segment on Seven News on 6 August 2012 on the grounds that it was in breach of Section 4 of the code.

Simply put it was little more than a sensationalist puff piece that engaged in ignorant religious vilification and made no effort to provide an even remotely balanced picture. Furthermore, Seven News made no realistic effort to provide balanced and fair reporting of this issue and as such presented a report totally that totally contradicts decades of peer reviewed scientific literature.

The program nominally discussed a nursery that was selling plants containing "illegal drugs", and deliberately used camera angles to suggest that it was something of an expose uncovering evil lawbreakers, who are a danger to the community.

The reporter sensationally reported that he was able to obtain both a cactus containing mescaline and the plants necessary to make the South American brew, ayahuasca, which was described as being "used in Peru for mind altering experiences" and "used in secretive ceremonies across Australia".

The truth is that both of these plants are integral parts of the religious practice that traces its origins back at least 5,500 years. Both of these compounds are known as "Entheogens", in that they are used to achieve mystical, transcendent states of consciousness that are not dissimilar to those experienced through meditation. The use of Ayahuasca is exclusively spiritual, and DMT, with DMT, the active compound being known as "The Spirit Molecule".

Similarly, Mescaline, which is found in the cactus sacred to the Native American Church is also primarily used for spiritual purposes.

In not bothering to mention the religious aspects of these compounds, while producing a sensationalist piece that actively denigrates those who use these compounds can only be described as religious vilification.

While it could be said that the reporter's decision to ignore the religious aspect produced a story that was technically "true", it amounts to little more than a hatchet job against an already victimised religious community, who already struggle with the fact that the Government has made their sacraments illegal, despite the fact that they are inherently safe.

Which brings me to the second part of this complaint: Its total failure to accurately reflect any of the decades of scientific research into these compounds.

It also contained a quote from a well regarded medical expert , Professor Gordian Fulde, from Sydney's St Vincents Hospital, who said that hallucinogens "may also lead to permanent brain damage".

But decades of peer reviewed research has demonstrated that both mescaline and DMT (the compounds featured in the report), are non-addictive, non-toxic and psychologically safe in an appropriate dose, set and setting. While Dr Fulde, is an esteemed member of St Vincents Hospital, it is apparent that he is not an expert on these compounds and is not aware of the considerable body of research that shows that his claims about "permanent brain damage" are totally false.

One person who is an expert is Dr David Nichols, who is perhaps the worlds leading researcher into the psychopharmacology of these compounds. In his 2004 review of the literature, he makes it perfectly clear that the classic hallucinogens (mescaline, psilocybin and LSD) do not cause mental illness "de novo" in otherwise healthy individuals (p 135). He also makes it clear that they are non addictive and non toxic. (p 134) http://www.maps.org/...ols_22684_1.pdf

With respect to Ayahuasca, the International Journal of Drugs Policy, recently took the unprecedented step of publishing an editorial that not only supported the legalisation of Ayahuasca as a culturally and religiously appropriate compound, but exhaustively reviewed the literature in order to demonstrate that the compound is inherently safe, especially within the context of religious practice.

The article can be found here, although it is behind a pay wall. If necessary, I can provide a copy of the "in print" proof via regular email. http://www.ijdp.org/...0044-8/abstract

This latter aspect has also been recently confirmed in a study of over 100 regular users (twice a month) of Ayahuasca within Brazilian syncretic churches. Indeed rather than suffering from "permanent brain damage" they were in a healthier psychological condition that the controls who were active in other religious traditions. From the abstract:

"They scored significantly lower on all psychopathology measures, showed better performance on the Stroop test, the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test and the Letter-Number Sequencing task from the WAIS-III, and better scores on the Frontal Systems Behavior Scale. Analysis of life attitudes showed higher scores on the Spiritual Orientation Inventory, the Purpose in Life Test and the Psychosocial Well-Being test."

http://www.plosone.o...al.pone.0042421

Had Seven News been acting in accordance with their requirement to present news in a balanced and fair way, this wealth of scientific evidence might have been bought to light. But the brief, ignorant and entirely devastating comment, by Dr Fulde, was left unchallenged as the the defence of the sale of these plants was left to a Nursery Hand! While this person might have experience in the use of the compounds it is unreasonable to expect that he might be able to debunk claims of harm in any meaningful way. Needless to say, even if he had put up the most scientifically accurate and spirited defence of these compounds, the fact that he was only a nursery hand would have devalued anything he said if it contradicted the supposed "medical expert".

The fact is that there are any one of a number of people in Australia and around the world (including myself) who are knowledgeable about the current state of the literature and who could have discussed the sacred and religious use of these compounds in coherent detail. In seeking sensationalism, Seven News deliberately chose not to talk to any of us and one can only conclude that this is because they didn't want anything to upset their rather single minded and aggressive agenda. While they might claim that deadlines are an issue, and that they didn't have time to source appropriate experts, this can hardly be the case as the nursery has been in operation for many years and holding off on broadcasting the story for a few days would have had no impact.

News should present the news in a balanced and factual way. This report was nothing but sensationalist disinformation designed to titillate and terrify the uninformed, while smearing ancient and noble religious practices.

I am a mystic. I use both of these compounds as a part of my religious practice and while it might be that their use is technically illegal in Australia, the fundamental right to religious freedom is one of the foundations upon which modern democracy is built. It is hard enough to fight for the religious freedom that everyone else takes for granted without having to contend with inaccurate muckraking, bigotry and false accusations that we suffer from "permanent brain damage".

I would suggest that the community would be much better served if Seven News did an expose on exactly why compounds that are non-addictive, non-toxic and psychologically safe are banned, while the highly toxic, highly addictive and psychologically dangerous alcohol is legal.

In conclusion, I call upon Seven News to not only retract this piece, but to also commit to a balanced and fair report of at least the same length and prominence on the use of these compounds within religious practice that acknowledges the legitimacy and safety of their use within appropriate religious, spiritual and cultural frameworks.

Kind Regards,

Greg Kasarik

Edited by GregKasarik
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Please keep us up to date on any responses etc.

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Is there any link to the episode available?

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Here you go Incog. Props to Shamanistics for the upload.

It'll be avaliable here when it's finished

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You had to stir them up didn't you Torsten ;) cheeky bugger, nice quote :) attorney general sounds a real fan :)

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Man, that quote is going to haunt me for a while. I know I can be arrogant, but seriously guys, do you think I would actually say this in that context? My explanation of how that quote was derived is in a previous post in this thread.

Greg - great work. Nice and factual. Really loving the stuff you are doing at the moment.

Update: I have confirmed that invasion of privacy is the only legal option here. While there is a breach of the privacy act and hence an offence has been committed, experience shows that unless there was serious or imminent hram the police NEVER get involved. That means any enforcement of the privacy act is up to the affected individual and has to be dealt with as a civil matter. The process for this is to litigate.

if the opponent was someone of equal financial standing then these cases usually cost about $10,000 to $20,000 and would under the circumstances net about $20,000 - 30,000 in compensation. ie there is a relatively good chance of making some money or at least breaking even.

However, as with any litigation, it is usually the one with the most money that wins. Not because they win on the issue, but because the opposing lawyers can bury you and your lawyers in months of paperwork which escalates costs almost indefinitely. And thereis always the possibility of appeal which can get even more expensive. My solicitor advises me that I should not consider taking on Ch7 with anything less than $60,000. The sum awarded however will not change. So I may well end up losing 40K in the process. He is currently involved in a similar case that has just hit 1.2 million in costs.

I have not made my mind up about any of this yet. My solicitor has engaged Stuart Littlemore QC [of Media Watch and 4Corners fame] to get more advice on this as he is very familiar with media issues and an excellent barrister. We are both goign to sydney in the next couple of weeks to see Stuart Littlemore for advice. Nothing will be decided till then.

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I have not made my mind up about any of this yet. My solicitor has engaged Stuart Littlemore QC [of Media Watch and 4Corners fame] to get more advice on this as he is very familiar with media issues and an excellent barrister. We are both goign to sydney in the next couple of weeks to see Stuart Littlemore for advice. Nothing will be decided till then.

Woah! When you see Stuart, will you tell him that he is one of my heroes?

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happy to. straight after I finish telling him he's my hero too. I nearly fell off my chair when my solicitor mentioned his name.

actually, the way my solicitor has laid this all out for me it doesn't look like I have a lot of options, but I figured having a chat to Stuart is going to be the best legal money I've ever spent regardless of what the outcome ;)

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my solicitor is the guy who represented Mohammed Haneef - remember the Gold Coast doctor who got treated like a terrorist by the Howard government for media creds because he bought a sim card for his relative who then tried to drive a bomb into a UK airport. Haneef ended up with a chunky compensation payout ;)

So yes, you'd expect a guy like that to be well connected after all the awards he got ;)

whether that will ultimately make any difference is yet to be seen, but at least I know I will have pretty much the best advice I can get and hence no regrets.

My solicitor also spends a lot of time representing 'boat people' and other disadvantaged or controversial cases, so rather than just building mansions and living a decadent lifestyle like most lawyers do, I know my money goes to someone worthwhile.

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that ch7 thing, slightly traumatised me, i know that because everytime i channel surfe and hit a 7 channel, i relive the ordeal, to a minor extend.

i never liked ch7 news, but now i never watch any ch7 content, apart from, family guy, american dad, and of course father ted, ups i think they got vicar of dibley aswell...

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Hiyall,

I finally received a response from Seven over my complaint re the SAB broadcast.

It is in no way adequate, so I'll be forwarding the issue to ACMA for follow up, but I'm not expecting any real positive action. In my experience complaints are just white washed away by those who are supposed to keep the peace.

I've attached the the reply as pdf to this post.

Greg

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Goodwork Greg!

Theres no atachment btw

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I'm currently with my puppy on the banks of the Yarra in Warburton, so will upload it to my website and post the link when I get home.

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I've put a copy of the reply from Network Seven on my website, here:

http://www.kasarik.com/Media-Issues.php

I'll put up my complaint to ACMA when I get it done, hopefully in the next couple of days.

Greg

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Very nice letter from Tessa! Well done on getting a response Greg. Typical bullshit response I'd expect from them. Basically, they say they have done a fair and balanced job, but they're just saying that. It's obvious that they didn't and they know they didn't, reminds me of Fox news.

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I'm still curious as to the doctor's sound bite about brain damage..

What medical literature is he pulling that from?

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I think he's rather pulling that out of his - or someone else's - arse! He really needs to be taken to task on that; it's complete misinformation to the public and irresponsible for him to stand by a comment like that. I also wonder about Seven's whitewash about 'the possible effects of hallucinogens.' Well when you get down to it, almost anything is technically possible, but doesn't necessarily happen. Also, Ayahuasca is not a typical hallucinogen and I wouldn't even class it as one. Keeping it broad as the possible effects of hallucinogens covers their ass as they're not saying the possible effects of Ayahuasca specifically, although they did in the report. But this letter seems more like a legal thing to me; like they're trying to say that the report had a balanced approach and didn't say anything that wasn't technically true. My feeling is they know they did a shit job and Greg has put the wind up them a bit. Maybe if Greg gets any press for the hunger strike, he could mention how flawed that report was? What do you think Greg?

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Well when you get down to it, almost anything is technically possible, but doesn't necessarily happen.

Yep, and they can make a whole story out of nothing by discussing what is 'possible' as long as there is already enough prejudice amongst their viewers for it to be taken even remotely seriously, or if there is enough ignorance that they can drum up that prejudice themselves.

It's possible that there is a colony of microscopic leprechauns orbiting the sun in an empty can of spam just beyond pluto.

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