It's said the first casualty in war is free speech. And so it's been with the Drug War. In addition to "a redoubling" of it's work to beat back assaults upon free expression in music and the arts, Rock Out Censorship has in recent days joined with decrim groups and activists in calling for an end to the continuing de facto censorship which declares even the faintest consideration for ending pot prohibition within the public arena verboten.
Public questioning of the National Party Line on 'drugs' is ruled out of hand, declared 'preposterous' and -- horrors! -- undermining of the god-almighty War on Drugs, despite the fact these social policies have been long proven to be abject failures, if not social catastrophes.
The "War on Drugs" is actually nothing new. It was the product of the worst lowlife political mugs in the service of the alcohol-guzzling, tobacco-belching industries of the 20's and 30's and hasn't let up since.
The debate is thereby upended in favor of the self-serving Enforcers, with such misinformation-mongering groups as D.A.R-E., the cigarette industry-funded Partnership For a Drug Free America and professional Drug War gasbags like William Bennett afforded unquestioned major media access. A big part of the work for free expression activists and drug policy reform groups in the period ahead will be simply in breaking this monopoly over national public dialogue.
Toward this end the Rock Out Censorship crew has found itself networking with pro-legalization groups and activists around the U.S. Indeed, this "other side" is heard primarily through the efforts of grass-roots decrim groups, via their publications, actions and always-popular literature tables on various concert tours. In fact the R.O.C. crew has already long worked literature tables 'shoulder-to-shoulder in the grass-roots trenches' with groups like NORML and the Cannabis Action Network at events like H.O.R.D.E. and Lollapalooza and as when R.O.C.'s John and Kenny were invited to work their table as part of the 1992 national Guns & Roses/Metallica tour. ROC #16 featured an extensive "Legalize It!" centerfold section (a kind of guide to the drug reform movement, still available for $2 from ROC) as well as most recently publishing suggestions on urine tests (how to "beat the Bladder Cops" both practically, and ultimately, politically; i.e., "Don't piss and moan; Organize!").
Meanwhile, this writer participated in an excellent day-long NORML legalization symposium in Cleveland recently, featuring presentations from luminaries like Robert Kampia (now of the Marijuana Policy Project) and HIGH TIMES editor-in-chief Steve Hagar. Meanwhile, reps from groups like the Ohio Libertarian Party (LP) were invited to work their literature tables and give raps between sets at a recent "joint" benefit for Northcoast Ohio NORML and R.O.C. in Cleveland featuring local bands Environmental Hazzard, Gallow's Eve and others. Between 1992-93 this writer participated in NORML Freedom and Harvest fests around Ohio, organizing our own local NORML 'Legalization Rave!' with folk singers, bonfires and raps in the wilds of the great outdoors one special night in rural Ohio (replete with a UFO or two!) just up the road from the mythical town of Jewett, helping organize at least one poetry gig (at Brady's coffeehouse in Kent, honoring Cleveland poet/culture hero d.a. levy who suicided in 1967), before I joined the National Office of Rock Out Censorship in 1994.
I'll be working literature tables with the R.O.C. crew at the Northcoast NORML Arts and Music Festival (May 27-28-29) and the Freedom Festival (called by some "Ohio's little Woodstock") June 23-24-25 ($20 each for 3 nights of camping, music and fun in the sprawling hills of Southeastern Ohio; call (216) 521-WEED for more info). Northcoast NORML also publishes an excellent paper MARIJUANA NEWS one of the best pro-decrim papers (in the classic "underground" style) in the country, with all the latest from the legalization front, plus classic writings like poet John Sinclair's 1970 "Marijuana Revolution," serialized in the last 2 issues. Subs are part of regular memberships at $10 yearly. In the end I suppose there's no- difference between, say, Internet and neo-tribal rave stomp-downs in the wilds of Ohio --It's all media, getting the word out, sharing information ..."getting down" as John Sinclair woulda called it.
This ain't ALL "good times" however. "If you're looking to get silly," Dylan sang, "You better go back from where you came"
A particularly scary example of Drug War madness trampling the First Amendment is the case of Yvonne Regas in Sparks, NV, who faces up to six years in prison for simply handing out a FLYER outside a courthouse detailing the little-known fact that jurors have the legal authority to nullify what they consider to be bad laws. Ms. Regas' case points up the need for unity of citizens everywhere to nip these anti-Constitutional travesties in the bud. For how you can help or more information on Ms. Regas' case, call Lawyers for Liberty at (404) 963-6032. For more dope on the issue of a jury's power to nullify bad laws, call Larry Dodge at the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) at (214) 357-0902. Otherwise you can contact the ROC/Magic Bus posse at (740) 946-2011 or E-Mail at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time, shalom, peace and check out the band ekoostik Hookah at a club or freedom festival near you.