Part 2, Chapter 7 Summary
The day of speeches at the conference wears interminably on. Thompson has not learned a single thing. Although the program invites anyone who is in the “know” to “teach,” he thinks wiser of the suggestion. He does not think his version of teaching would go over well. He feels bored and wishes he could make the hours more tolerable by getting high on mescaline but decides that, too, is not a smart idea. The effect of mescaline, he explains, is to “exaggerate” reality, not completely alter it. He does not want to envision the conference attendees enhanced in any way. A fat couple kissing while sober is almost more than he can bear.
Instead, Thompson listens to the speakers drone on. He becomes increasingly convinced that the efforts of these people to understand the drug culture are hopelessly off the mark. They seem much more interested in cheap shots and patched-together hearsay than in making sincere efforts to understand why some Americans choose to indulge in mind-altering substances. Moreover, they make no distinction between abuse and enjoyment. In their opinion, both are equally corrupt.
The attorney has had enough of the empty talk and departs for the casino, stumbling over people and leaving Thompson behind. Thompson cannot endure it any longer either. He pretends he is about to vomit and the crowd parts to let him through. He meets his attorney at a bar downstairs. One of the conference attendees, a cop from Georgia, is also passing time at the bar. He tells Thompson that he has been discussing “drug fiends” with the attorney. Thompson quickly catches on that his friend is playing mind games with the cop. Thompson and his attorney delight in one-upping each other. Their stories of out-of-control addicts become more and more bizarre. In a few minutes, they have the naïve man believing that the drug problem has become so out of control that many of the fiends are turning to human sacrifice as they descend into the depths of drug-induced depravity. The cop eats it up and seems to honestly believe that this menace from California will soon sweep the entire nation. Thompson says the only solution is to kill the druggies, just as they are doing in California—but of course they are keeping their containment policy secret. The press, he insists, must not find out. Rather than being horrified by such a system, the cop agrees that the best thing to do is keep that sort of thing between those in authority.