Raving Lunacy

Raving Lunacy
Posted by CN Staff on July 25, 2002 at 10:01:30 PT
By Glenn Harlan Reynolds 
We're at war. The people in charge of running the war say that we have to trust them: trust their integrity, and trust their judgment. But how can we trust our government to spot terrorists when it thinks that glow sticks are items of "drug paraphernalia?"This sounds like a joke, but it isn't. Last year, the Department of Justice and the DEA tried to prosecute concert promoters in New Orleans under the federal "crackhouse law." That law makes it a felony to maintain a building or facility for the purpose of drug consumption.
Traditionally, the law has been applied to places that are, well, crack houses. But  calling glow sticks and bottled water "drug paraphernalia"  then-U.S. Attorney Eddie Jordan attempted to jail three New Orleans concert promoters by reasoning that (1) people come to raves; (2) people who come to raves sometimes use drugs; (3) concert promoters must know this (especially in light of the presence of "drug paraphernalia"); and so, (4) a rave must be an event that takes place "for the purpose of drug consumption" under the law.The federal district court made short work of this claim, dismissing the charges and calling them a violation of the First Amendment. But that hasn't stopped our drug warriors. Now Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., has introduced a bill (the "Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act of 2002," cutely called "the RAVE Act"), also sponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Richard Durbin, D-Ill. The bill would essentially write into the crackhouse statute the same approach already rejected by the district court in New Orleans. According to The Washington Post:When he introduced the bill in June, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., said "most raves are havens for illicit drugs," and congressional findings submitted with the bill label as drug paraphernalia such rave mainstays as bottled water, "chill rooms" and glow sticks.My three-year-old nephew is fond of bottled water and glow sticks, and usually needs a "chill room." Presumably Biden regards him as a dangerous criminal.The RAVE Act should, all by itself, serve to explode Democratic claims that it's only the Republicans who pose a danger to civil liberties: nothing in the Bush administration's anti-terror plans would criminalize bottled water. Unfortunately, the RAVE Act (what is it with these cutesy acronyms, anyway?) also suggests that there's a lot of raving going on in Washington  raving lunacy.The real story is that federal law enforcement efforts against ecstasy have proved impotent. Frustrated by this failure, they've targeted electronic music concerts ("raves") not because they're especially important targets (they're not) but because they're easy, and public, targets. Unable to endure the continuing evidence of drug-war failure, the drug warriors are lashing out, hoping that the ignorant will be convinced that they're earning their pay. Congress is playing along because, basically, Congress isn't up to the job of riding herd on the massive drug-war bureaucracy.The drug war has been a massive failure: a waste of money, of lives and of time. It's also been accompanied by extensive inroads on traditional American freedoms: property forfeitures, "no-knock" searches, expanded wiretap authority, and the destruction of financial privacy, to name just a few. These are inroads that have served the agendas of bureaucrats but that haven't done anything to solve the problem that was claimed as their justification. And the drug war's combination of intrusiveness, corruption and ineptitude calls into question the government's ability to carry out the war on terrorism.Will the drug war serve as a model for the war on terrorism? Some within the federal bureaucracy seem to think it should, and it's easy to understand why: The drug war may have been a disaster for America, but it has been a three-decade gravy train for bureaucrats. And if Congress can't ride herd on the drug war bureaucracy, it probably won't be able to oversee the terror-war bureaucracy either.Not being a bureaucrat, I think the drug war is a terrible model. In fact, I think it's an argument against creating a Homeland Security bureaucracy at all. If we can't trust the government to tell a glow stick from a hypodermic needle, then I don't think we can trust it to tell the difference between an American and a terrorist. I'm willing to support an invasion of Iraq and of other enemy nations like Saudi Arabia or Syria. I'm not willing to support an approach that will turn the United States itself into an occupied country  something the drug war crowd has come a long way toward doing on its own.Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a law professor at the University of Tennessee and publishes InstaPundit.Com. He is co-author, with Peter W. Morgan, of The Appearance of Impropriety: How the Ethics Wars Have Undermined American Government, Business, and Society (The Free Press, 1997).Source: FoxNews.comAuthor: Glenn Harlan ReynoldsPublished: Thursday, July 25, 2002Copyright: Fox News Network, LLC 2002Website: foxnewsonline foxnews.comRelated Articles & Web Site:Rave Bill: S.2633 Poopers - Reason Magazine Against The Machine Addicted To The Quick Fix 
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Comment #11 posted by SpaceCat on July 25, 2002 at 14:16:54 PT
Be careful what you wish for...
There's a little town south of here that is all up in arms about a strip club on their main street, which is only there because the city council didn't write up zoning laws that would have prevented it (in that "family-friendly" location) in the first place. So they write up a multi-page ordinance that makes it illegal for the girls to take off their clothes. But... oops, they forgot to include an age restriction, so the girls put on some catsuits and micro-mini's, and are bumpin' and grindin' it for the pre-pubescent set!
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Comment #10 posted by John Tyler on July 25, 2002 at 14:13:19 PT
Rave on
It is good to see the media seeing this bill for what it is...lunacy. It would be bad for freedom and business. It would kill the concert and bar business among others. Lots of money lost and people unemployed. Another industry heading down. When are politicians going to get a clue?
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Comment #9 posted by BGreen on July 25, 2002 at 13:41:18 PT
I had to check halfway through
I scrolled back up to look at the source. Then, I read further down.Now, a translation:"I'm willing to support an invasion of Iraq and of other enemy nations like Saudi Arabia or Syria."I'm willing to support an invasion of Iraq and of other oil producing nations like Saudi Arabia or Syria.
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Comment #8 posted by ekim on July 25, 2002 at 11:48:09 PT
investment----------------nine one one
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Comment #7 posted by E_Johnson on July 25, 2002 at 11:09:26 PT
Equal opportunity disaster
A truly bad policy can be attacked equally well from the left or right.The Drug War has been all about big government. Eventually true capitalists are going to smell the hungry beast beneath the finery it uses to dress itself and disguise its obscene appetites.
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Comment #6 posted by TroutMask on July 25, 2002 at 11:09:05 PT
Canada FYI
I've been trying to find transcripts of the Canadian Senate's hearings on drug law reform and they are now available online, if anyone is interested: encouraging reading...-TM
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Comment #5 posted by ekim on July 25, 2002 at 11:08:19 PT
after reading this I doubt Donahue has low ratings
I was suspect before when someone said Phils ratings have gone down. Now more than ever I wonder if that is true-- why is FOX trying so hard to catch up. Now if some of the bean counters will do a study on how much the Fed. Med. Cannabis paitents have saved in prescrption drugs while being given 300 joints a month. We will have something to take to the lawmakers who at this very minute are trying to pass a prescription drug bill. p4 put that in to my head. and is quite right. We should know how the Dutch are doing on there MMJ program. Please if anyone knows anyone Dutch that is getting da herb tell the rest of us. On C-Span today a Sen. from NV. who is pushing his drug plan said he is close to getting it passed. I tryed to call in and ask him how much the people in NV are calculated to save on using MMJ. When Rep. Frank was turned down by the DEA so Amerst Univerisity Mass. could grow Med. Cannabis I wonder if the Professors had done a study as to the cost benifit that would be saved for the prescription drug users. 
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Comment #4 posted by culebra on July 25, 2002 at 11:07:26 PT
It is Fox News, and it does surprise me that they are taking this stance but...methinks it is mostly because Democrats are sponsoring it. Still, I'll take it. The increasing number of conservatives that are abandoning their totalitarian masters and actually adopting a rational mindframe in regards to key issues is a very good sign that the writing is on the wall (of course it always has been). I also read recently that many conservative religious orgs are turning on John Ashcroft in light of his government-as-Nazi Circus act. 
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Comment #3 posted by darwin on July 25, 2002 at 10:25:24 PT
This is Foxnews???
Are they encountering employee turnover or is Fox as an organization jumping off the propaganda bandwagon?MSNBC now calls themselves "The independant news source"It seems that the media is starting to distance themselves from the stench leaking out of Washington.
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Comment #2 posted by schmeff on July 25, 2002 at 10:18:40 PT
Going really well there...
...until he said he supported invasions if Iraq, Saudi Arabia or Syria!!When did Saudi Arabia become an enemy nation? I tell ya, this Bush league foreign policy stuff changes direction too quickly for this ol' boy to follow.
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on July 25, 2002 at 10:17:16 PT:
"Holy, Wingnuts, Batman!"
Has FAUX News gone schizoid? What's happening, here? FAUX can always be counted on to spew Repub money-men propaganda...after all, they own it, so why not? But this is at least the second time I have seen an editorial from FAUX that has come out and said what a crock the War on (Some) Drugs is. Are the top execs at FAUX suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder, or what?
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