iApprove: “Brownie Mary” Rathbun.

May 3, 2009

While browsing Oddee (a site of which I heartily approve, if only because I’ve been viewing it nonstop for hours), I discovered something rather surprising – an easter egg, if you will.  Something that may lay to rest many of the unfounded and rather disturbing claims made about certain American individuals.

I’m talking about Mary Jane Rathbun.

Mary Jane Rathbun, aka “Brownie Mary”, was what one might refer to as a medical activist.  She spent much of her life fighting to legalize cannabis – a plant better known as marijuana – in medicinal use for sufferers of “Aids, cancer, glaucoma, and other diseases” (Wikipedia).  One of her better-known stunts, for which she received her nickname, was the baking and distribution of several “Alice B. Toklas brownies” – that is, brownies made with cannabis.  She once said on the subject “my kids [people with AIDS and cancer] need this and I’m ready to go to jail for my principles.”  Before her death, she was named a living saint, and christened “Saint Brownie Fucking Mary” by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Wait… what?

Well, no real nuns would have touched Brownie Mary with a ten-foot pole.  She broke laws, after all (or bent them, anyway).  And she was promoting drugs (or something equally untrue). So Mary, a lifelong atheist, was honored by a (rather eccentric) humanist organization.

We could all learn a lot from Mary.  Atheists and humanists could learn to follow her example and fight for what they believe in.  And religious folks could learn that not all atheists take their cues from Joseph Stalin.


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