— Octavio Paz Mexican writer laureated with the 1990 Nobel Prize for Literature 1914 - 1998
Context: Many psychiatrists think, like Huxley, that these substances [hallucinogens] are neither more nor less dangerous than alcohol. It is not necessary to entirely accept this opinion — although to me it seems to be not far from the truth — in order to recognize that the authorities prohibit these drugs not so much in the name of public health as in the name of public morality. They are a challenge to the ideals of activity, utility, progress, work, and similar notions that justify our daily routine. Alcoholism is an infraction of social rules. Everyone tolerates it because the violation confirms the rules. This case is analogous to prostitution: neither the drunk nor the prostitute and her clientele call into doubt the rules they break. Their acts are a disturbance of order, not a criticism of it. The use of hallucinogens, on the other hand, implies a negation of prevailing social values. … We can now understand the true reason for their condemnation and its severity. The authorities aren’t suppressing a reprehensible practice or a crime. They are suppressing dissidence. … Prohibition is a battle against a contagion of the spirit — against an opinion. The authorities reveal, in their ideological zeal, that they are pursuing a heresy, not a crime.