In a press conference yesterday, I heard President Bush proclaim (and he is likely correct) that the increased propensity of terrorist factions within Iraq to perpetrate ever more vicious attacks on ever softer targets is evidence that, like a wounded and dying beast, they are lashing out in their death throws. My words, not his.
We are seeing similar behavior from terrorist factions within the United States government – those promoting and carrying out the Evil War on Drugs. With both their mantra and their life’s work coming increasingly under question, and unable to strike any significant blow against their enemy’s core, they have turned their attentions more and more towards its soft periphery, and proceed to attack it in an increasingly vicious manner.
The most glaring example of this is the Justice department’s ‘Operation Pipe Dreams’, and its selectively harsh enforcement against actor and comedian Tommy Chong. Now politically, I am no particular fan of Chong’s. He hypocritically presents himself as a “reformed drug addict,” who professes abstinence, rather than speaking out for the rights of all adults to engage in any risky behavior they choose, so long as it does not infringe on the rights of others. However, Operation Pipe Dreams is unjustified on any basis. And it is massively heavy-handed slap against Chong – almost $123,000 in fines and forfeitures, as well as a 9 month prison sentence, is absolutely unconscionable. The average conviction under this operation has yielded sentences of community service.
And what felonious act did Mr. Chong perpetrate to deserve this harsh sentence? He operated a small, discrete company called Nice Dreams Enterprises (d.b.a. Chong Glass) which engaged in the manufacture of blown glass devices for smoking organic materials – ‘bongs’. But, you say, he’s clearly enabling marijuana use. Not so. As with the absurd prohibitions of ‘assault weapons’, the Justice Dept. is basing its case upon differences which are primarily cosmetic, not functional. A wad of ganja can be smoked just as well, if not better, through a hookah, which can be purchased legally at any south Asian imports store, as through one of Mr. Chong’s blown glass creations.
Besides furthering his evangelical mission to enforce his conception of purity on all our souls, Attorney General Ashcroft, no doubt, thinks this will create a perception with the populace that a tough new stand is being taken, and victory is just around the corner. It will more likely serve only to further the public’s disgust.
Many organizations are forming to voice opposition to this egregious action. One is FreeTommyChong.org. I would encourage all US Samizdata readers to lend their support.