Paul From Minneapolis

Monday, August 29, 2005

John Perry Barlow Addresses Our Totalitarian Drift

Here, and continuing here.

In case you don’t know, and you probably do not, John Perry Barlow is a globetrotting former Grateful Dead lyricist, songwriting partner of the estimable Bob Weir (of Garcia-Weir) and archetypal cultural creative. Here, John Perry Barlow’s basic point seems to be: much to John Perry Barlow’s chagrin, society’s paranoia about air travel has made it less wise than before to hide marijuana in your baggage. Especially, it seems, when you have also packed away a contraption with wires (“part of my laser gloves”) that a real sharp-eyed baggage inspector might wonder about.

It’s not so much that John Perry Barlow has laser gloves that tips you off to his cultural creative status. It’s the way he casually mentions it, a throwaway really, like you might hear Lt. Sulu stroll onto the bridge and say, “Has anybody seen my phaser?” It’s great. And the fact that I have no idea what John Perry Barlow is talking about, that reflects badly on me, I’m afraid.

As of last December, John Perry Barlow was applying his creativeness to the Constitution, searching for an interpretation of our laws such that it would still be pretty okay for him (John Perry Barlow) to travel with pot. And he was blaming our drift toward totalitarianism for his arrest, and for his failure so far to convince the system of the rightness of his struggle

Make no mistake, I share John Perry Barlow’s grief at the higher risk now associated with stuffing a little herb into the suitcase. But I tend to blame al Qaeda for the disturbing trend.

I sense this may be a good judge:

At one point, Judge Papadakis asked, rhetorically, if Ms. Ramos upon smelling the marijuana and probably deducing that there was no bomb in the bottle, should have screwed the cap back on and let it go.

Because that was the first question that popped into my head, too, concerning Ms. Ramos, the inspector who shares my ignorance about laser gloves. But John Perry Barlow has a response:

This is precisely what I'm suggesting she should have done.

I’ll listen to John Perry Barlow’s ideas here. He's just advocating laid-back-ness, and having it cemented into Constitutional law. And I must acknowledge that our system has in this case failed utterly to incorporate in its actions the right to an un-harshed buzz. But I’m not quite convinced it means we’re now – it’s all over but the formalities – fascist.

John Perry Barlow hasn’t returned to the topic since late last year, after he lost in local court and took it as good news. It simply meant the case was nearing the higher levels, where the John Perry Barlow Precedent would mean far more.

In fact now that I look at his blog, he hasn’t posted anything since March. Oh my gosh... you don’t suppose...
Has anyone seen John Perry Barlow!!

It’s also interesting to note that in the comments there’s an actual debate, largely respectful, with a lot of old Deadheads and related types evidently not as air-headed as the stereotype would suggest.