So do you think Rush Limbaugh will be sharing a federal prison cell with Tommy Chong anytime soon? Not bloody likely, but after all, Rush has apparently been on the black market buying and consuming buttloads of hardcore prescription painkillers- you know, actual narcotic drugs. Surely that rates at least as bad as selling glass bongs. Best I can tell, Chong has not been caught with so much as one lousy, stinkin’ joint.
On the other hand, Rush Limbaugh has not made a career of satirizing the drug war, as Tommy Chong has. Therefore, Chong gets specially targeted for prosecution and nine months in federal prison based on an obscure and stupid law.
Make no mistake or excuses but that this is highly selective prosecution. If selling drug paraphernalia constitutes criminal activity, there are at least hundreds of thousands of people who should be in prison. My cranky old Republican father, for example, spent thirty years running a convenience store. Along with milk and bread and lunchmeat, he sold tens of thousands of packs of Zig Zags, among other brands of papers- and precious little loose tobacco. He and every manager of a gas station, 7-11, or Village Pantry in the country are “guilty.” They know what those papers are for. To the brig for the old man, I say!
From the LA Times:
During sentencing, however, [federal prosecutor Mary] Houghton filed papers with the court that cited Chong’s movie career as one factor in pushing for harsher punishment.
“The defendant has become wealthy throughout his entertainment career through glamorizing the illegal distribution and use of marijuana,” she wrote. “Feature films that he made with his longtime partner Cheech Marin, such as ‘Up in Smoke,’ trivialize law enforcement efforts to combat drug trafficking and use.”
In short, Tommy Chong is a political prisoner, slapped in prison on bogus charges because of movies and records he’s made criticizing US government officials and policies- exactly the core point of what the First Amendment is supposed to protect.
Indeed, his people describe even the pipes he is in prison for selling as art rather than paraphernalia. This makes some sense, considering the expensive and apparently fragile and somewhat impractical nature of the designs. It would make more sense to keep a $200 autographed glass Chong bong as a show piece on the mantle, and get a cheap plastic bong from which to actually consume a bowl of the Weed From Hell. [CLICK HERE to see the archived website at the invaluable Memory Hole website.]
Some infantile liberals hollered their fool heads off about how the Dixie Chicks were supposedly censored or suppressed after Natalie Maine’s comment about being “ashamed” of the president. That’s nonsense. No one in the Bush administration said a word about it. The worst they got was that some radio stations quit playing their records for a minute because a lot of the country music fan base didn’t want to hear them. At no time, however, were they even passingly threatened with any kind of legal sanction.
Chong, on the other hand, has clearly been targeted and actually imprisoned just exactly because of the political content of his artistic creations. If there is some doubt that the point of this is to suppress Chong’s speech, consider
The court made Chong promise he would not profit financially from his case, said his attorney, Richard Hirsch. That means, probably, not weaving what he calls “the incident” into his comedy act.
Hmm, so Chong will be lined up for who knows what punishment if he in fact writes this story into his next screenplay, as he had initially promised to do. Is there anyone willing to seriously argue that the point of this is somehow NOT to suppress his constitutionally protected free speech?
On the other hand, some of these founding documents of American liberty were printed on hemp paper, so in the name of fighting the scourge of Cheech and Chong copping a buzz, the Bill of Rights should be expected to be Up in Smoke.
Rand knows that I’ve bent over backwards to cut the Ashcroft Justice Department maximum slack, in consideration of the real responsibilities they have in stopping terrorism. Even as a staunch libertarian, I haven’t bitched too much even about the Patriot Act.
This persecution of a drug war dissident goes way beyond the pale, however. Granted, this is not nearly as evil as Janet Reno’s murders in Waco, but it is an unconscionable violation of constitutional liberties. Heads should roll, starting with Mary Houghton. SHE should be in prison, not Chong. The judge and prosecutors here are the threat to our liberty, not Tommy Chong. We’re not fighting a war on terrorists just so we can have the privilege of being thrown in prison for criticizing our own government.
Certainly, President Bush should immediately pardon Mr. Chong, with profuse apologies. This should definitely involve actual and punitive financial compensation.
Hell, these people make Stacy Keach’s vice officers look like Nice Dreams.Powered by Sidelines