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Presidential candidate Senator Orrin Hatch will be taking calls on C-Span's Saturday Journal From 9-10 AM Eastern Time this Saturday AM. Hatch is the co-author of The Hatch/Feinstein Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act of 1999 which could easily destroy all forms of Internet activism on drug policy on the Internet if implemented. Below is a wealth of information on the bill and its background. It has already UNANIMOUSLY passed the senate. Hatch is also one of the most ardent drug war hawks in the Senate.
The bill reads as follows "It shall be unlawful for any person-- (A) to teach or demonstrate the manufacture of a controlled substance, or to distribute by any means information pertaining to, in whole or in part, the manufacture or use of a controlled substance, with the intent that the teaching, demonstration, or information be used for, or in furtherance of, an activity that constitutes a Federal crime."
This is a mind boggling concept in the land of the free. To me this sort of censorship sounds eerily like the plots in the classic books "Fahrenheit 451" in which book burning was mandated by the government or "1984" in which the government censored talk and even thought heavily and eliminated individual rights "for our own good."
Please call in, email or fax C-span to challenge Hatch on this egregious attack on the first amendment.
C-SPAN 400 North Capitol St. NW Suite 650 Washington DC 20001
Call these numbers from 9-10 AM ET Saturday:
Washington Journal: Democrats (202) 624-1111 Washington Journal: Republicans (202) 624-1115 Washington Journal: Others (202) 737-6734 Washington Journal: FAX (202) 393-3346 Washington journal: Email
Front Desk (202) 737-3220 Hotline Schediling info 202 628 2205 - 4 Jobs Line (202) 626-7983 Viewer Services: (202) 626-7963 - 0
Smashing Meth or Trashing Rights?
Consider these statements:
A: "If you must smoke marijuana, filter the smoke with a water pipe
and don't even think of driving afterwards." B: "If you ever do shoot up heroin, don't use dirty needles. Clean them with bleach or find a syringe exchange program."
I think these statements are good advice. But if U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch and Dianne Feinstein have their way, it will soon be a felony to publish these statements in any book, newspaper, magazine, web site, or even to utter them or link to a web site containing them. The Hatch/Feinstein Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act of 1999 makes these statements illegal because they "pertain" to an act that violates federal controlled-substance laws.
Here's the censorship language of the Hatch/Feinstein bill (S.486): "It shall be unlawful for any person-- (A) to teach or demonstrate the manufacture of a controlled substance, or to distribute by any means information pertaining to, in whole or in part, the manufacture or use of a controlled substance, with the intent that the teaching, demonstration, or information be used for, or in furtherance of, an activity that constitutes a Federal crime."
My opening statements "teach" people how to "use" criminalized drugs in a way that reduces potential harmfulness. They are nonetheless information that, if heeded at all, would be used "for ... an activity that constitutes a Federal crime," namely the use of marijuana or heroin. (Don't believe for a minute that the "intent" aspect clarifies anything: the "intent" of suspects in federal crimes is exactly what the prosecutor says it is. Period.)
The penalty for my heinous utterances: 10 years in federal prison.
You're probably thinking "Surely they didn't mean that. This is a clamp-down on methamphetamine, isn't it?" But a law is a very literal beast. The implications of S.486 are as broad as its language is vague. It clearly violates the face-value meaning of the First Amendment -- guaranteed free speech.
Anyone who thinks the feds would use common sense and restraint when enforcing this law hasn't been watching the Drug War for the past 20 years. These are the same drug warriors who just paid $1 million in an out-of-court settlement with the family of Donald Scott, who was shot to death in a "dry" (no drugs found) raid on Scott's California ranch in 1992. Purportedly, the feds, fearing the publicity about corrupt drug cops in LA's Rampart precinct, thought jurors might be persuaded that enforcers really were trying to grab Scott's property under federal drug forfeiture laws, as the suit had alleged. On another front, drug-warring federal prosecutors are notorious for using mandatory sentencing laws to jail the lowest-level participants in drug cases for the longest possible terms, based on heresay evidence and wide-reaching conspiracy laws (see the PBS documentary "Snitch"). A study of drug case law reveals that people can be jailed on drug crimes through a head spinning array of legal technicalities (often convoluted, illogical, and unfair). Prosecutors essentially have the power of accuser, judge, and jury, all rolled into one, and can effectively jail whomsoever they please. Many use their power to seek high political offices.
Would S.486 be used benignly? Tell me another.
In states that have passed compassionate-use referendums, S. 486 would facilitate federal prosecution of doctors who tell patients about medical marijuana. These are among the more obvious applications of this bill. The larger implication concerns citizens who are now legally protesting the Drug War or conducting now-legal programs that are at odds with abstinence-enforcement ideology.
Given the vague and inclusive interpretation of federal conspiracy laws, almost any information about criminalized drugs and any dissent against existing drug laws could be construed by federal enforcers as furthering federal drug crimes. In Congressional hearings last summer, drug czar Barry McCaffrey specifically accused two national drug reform organizations, MAP (the Media Awareness Project) and the Drug Policy Foundation (DPF), of distributing information to support the manufacture of criminalized drugs. Of course, McCaffrey was lying about this.
Check it out at the Media Awareness Project (MAP) http://www.mapinc.org and The Drug Policy Foundation http://www.dpf.org
MAP posts worldwide news related to criminalized drugs, drug policy, etc. Both groups organize activism to end the War on Drugs policy. Neither of them advocate drug use or offer instructions about drug manufacture. However, in the light of the 33,000 press articles clipped by MAP, the government's Drug War does not look good. And activists are running scared about S.486.
Based on McCaffrey's statements of last summer, MAP and other drug policy leaders fear that enforcers, armed with the Hatch/Feinstein bill, would shut down their web sites, effectively silencing dissent against the Drug War and squelching public debate about drug policy. They fear selective enforcement of S.486 such that any anti-Drug-War web site could be shut down directly or indirectly because Internet service providers, fearing prosecution, would refuse to host such sites.
In remarks about the bill, Sen. Feinstein emphasized her intent to censor communications about drugs on the Internet. Whether Hatch and Feinstein know it or not, S.486 neatly fulfills the wishes of UN drug czar Pino Arlacchi, whose global drug-war organization recommended, in a 1997 publication, that governments should curtail civil liberties in their pursuit of strict drug-abstinence enforcement.
Other implications: books about criminalized drugs could be withdrawn from Barnes-and-Noble's shelves; certain magazines would be shut down (no more High Times). Information about industrial hemp cultivation would be outlawed. Drug treatment and intervention programs that deviate from strict abstinence doctrine or help non-abstainers (concerning harm reduction, needle exchange, methadone maintenance, or medical marijuana) could be prosecuted - because their communications, like my opening statements, pertain to activities that are federal crimes.
S.486 seems to be a bald-faced violation of the First Amendment. But the opinion of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who never saw a draconian drug law he didn't like, is harder to predict.
This is an extremely dangerous law, not only for drug policy and reform, but concerning freedom of speech generally in the United States. If dissent about this issue can be silenced, all dissent can be silenced.
If S.486 becomes law, American speech rights become subject to the whim of the badge-bearing guys who smash down doors carrying submachine guns and yelling "Freeze!" like they did to Donald Scott. No matter what you think of drugs, if you love freedom, you should hate this bill.
The Media Awareness Project (MAP) Inc. is a Project of DrugSense a 501(c)3 non profit educational organization dedicated to accurate information and reporting on drug and drug policy related matters.
Drug War Facts http://www.csdp.org/factbook/
Searchable archive of more than 30,000 articles on drug policy matters http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/
The Media Awareness Project (MAP) Inc. Home page http://www.mapinc.org
DrugSense Home Page http://www.drugsense.org
Free Weekly Email newsletter on important drug policy developments http://www.drugsense.org/hurry.htm
The individuals below may be contacted for further information regarding this release.
Mark Greer Executive Director DrugSense (MAP Inc.) PO Box 651 Porterville, CA 93258 (800) 266 5759 http://www.mapinc.org http://www.drugsense.org
Tom O'Connell M.D. 195 Warren Rd. San Mateo CA 94401 650 348 6841
Kevin Zeese Common Sense For Drug Policy 3619 Tall Wood Terrace Falls Church VA 22041 (703) 354 5694 703-354-5695 (fax) http://www.csdp.org/
Kendra Wright Family Watch 703-354-5694 http://www.familywatch.org/
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