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Forest Service Harassing Rainbows:

The Wyoming chapter of the ACLU contends that the U.S. Forest Service has been harassing the annual gatherings of the "Rainbow Family" gatherings. Why would they do that? Haven't they read Judge Dave and the Rainbow People.

Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

the ACLU contends that the U.S. Forest Service has been harassing

Why would they do that?



Because the ACLU considers normal expectations of hygiene and behavior on publicly held land enforced by legally employed personnel to do so as the ACLU's usual interpretation of gross denial of rights, and persecution.

Besides, it keeps the Boy Scouts out of there.
10.5.2008 10:21am
marc (mail):
The two or three Rainbow Family people I've known--acquaintances, I would say, not friends--have been, apart from an ambient... fogginess, as decent and responsible as most any body in their age group, I think: they would pick up their trash in a park, in any event.
10.5.2008 10:23am
John (mail):
This is not really much of a story. Just he-said-she-said sort of stuff. If you believe the Forest Service, it's hard to fault them. If you believe the Rainbows, it's hard to fault them.

I do wonder whether the ACLU might have better things to do. On the other hand, distracting the ACLU with this could leave us better off.
10.5.2008 10:31am
J. Aldridge:
Remember, the ACLU was founded for the primary purpose of developing and spreading propaganda. They made no attempt to hide the fact in 1921 when they released their mission statement.
10.5.2008 10:46am
Eric Muller (www):
Are we sure they're not talking about Forest Service harassment of rainbow trout?
10.5.2008 10:50am
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
By "they" I meant the Forest Service. Sorry I wasn't more clear.

This post is really little more than an excuse to note the Judge Dave book. I'd say it was a rollicking fun read even if I hadn't clerked for the author.

JHA
10.5.2008 11:56am
Sam H (mail):
"I do wonder whether the ACLU might have better things to do. On the other hand, distracting the ACLU with this could leave us better off."

We have the designated driver program to keep drunk drivers off the road, shall we make the Forest Service the designated suee to keep the ACLU away from the rest of us?
10.5.2008 12:05pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
Having spent 22 years of my life in Oregon, three of them in Eugene, I can tell you that the Rainbow Family is in fact a group of filthy, psycho hippies. They leave a huge mess everywhere they go. In their case, the rainbow does not lead to a pot full of gold. It leads to piss, shit, and garbage everywhere.
10.5.2008 12:14pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
Having spent 22 years of my life in Oregon, three of them in Eugene, I can tell you that the Rainbow Family is in fact a group of filthy, psycho hippies. They leave a huge mess everywhere they go. In their case, the rainbow does not lead to a pot full of gold. It leads to piss, shit, and garbage everywhere.
10.5.2008 12:14pm
common sense (www):
According to the article, the ACLU did not talk to anyone from the forest service. In addition to being poor form, it undermines anything they have to say. If they support groups of people without getting some understanding of the "truth," then they leave themselves open to embarrassment when more facts come out. reducing their effectiveness in the future.
10.5.2008 1:12pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
"Filthy psycho hippies", yes, but in my limited personal experience they've been meticulous about sanitation, trash handling, and leaving work crews to restore their campsites to a natural state. I suspect that in Eugene (Or.) they've exceeding their carrying capacity; that's less likely to be true in Wyoming.
10.5.2008 1:15pm
Hoosier:
Jerome Cole--From my years as a fringe member of the '80s alternative rock scene, all I can say is: Yep. Naked pot smoking geriatric hippies who bogart their beer and dope and tell you that only their generation's music was "real."

As if there was any connection between Iron Butterfly and reality.
10.5.2008 1:17pm
Hoosier:
"In their case, the rainbow does not lead to a pot full of gold."

Howsabout "a pot full of pot"?
10.5.2008 1:19pm
Barry P. (mail):
...harassing the annual gatherings of the "Rainbow Family" gatherings.

Did you also clerk for the Department of Redundancy Department?
10.5.2008 1:23pm
wfjag:
The NYT, unlike the ACLU, at least talked to Forrest Service officials, before making a report.
10.5.2008 1:24pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

U.S. Forest Service has been harassing the annual gatherings of the "Rainbow Family"


I sure hope so.

Unfortunately, since the ACLU did their usual good job and talked to only the "Rainbow Family", its probably not true.

Pity.
10.5.2008 1:45pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):

...harassing the annual gatherings of the "Rainbow Family" gatherings.

Did you also clerk for the Department of Redundancy Department?


We all here at the Department of Redundancy Department are all very concerned about your concerns.
10.5.2008 2:02pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):

they've exceeding their carrying capacity


Does that mean we can cull them? Hot damn. I am flying back to America, buying an arsenal, and getting as many hunting licenses as they will sell me. All I have to do is randomly disperse bags of pot and bongs throughout the forest and then sit up in a tree with a good view. The folks at the University of Texas were sober and had the good sense to run away and hide, quickly. The guy in the clock tower was still able to pick off a whole lot of people. These Rainbow Family losers are already disoriented. Letting them get stoned before I open fire should tilt the odds in my favor. I bet I can get at least 50.
10.5.2008 2:12pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):

they've exceeding their carrying capacity


Does that mean we can cull them? Hot damn. I am flying back to America, buying an arsenal, and getting as many hunting licenses as they will sell me. All I have to do is randomly disperse bags of pot and bongs throughout the forest and then sit up in a tree with a good view. The folks at the University of Texas were sober and had the good sense to run away and hide, quickly. The guy in the clock tower was still able to pick off a whole lot of people. These Rainbow Family losers are already disoriented. Letting them get stoned before I open fire should tilt the odds in my favor. I bet I can get at least 50.
10.5.2008 2:12pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):

they've exceeding their carrying capacity


Does that mean we can cull them? Hot damn. I am flying back to America, buying an arsenal, and getting as many hunting licenses as they will sell me. All I have to do is randomly disperse bags of pot and bongs throughout the forest and then sit up in a tree with a good view. The folks at the University of Texas were sober and had the good sense to run away and hide, quickly. The guy in the clock tower was still able to pick off a whole lot of people. These Rainbow Family losers are already disoriented. Letting them get stoned before I open fire should tilt the odds in my favor. I bet I can get at least 50.
10.5.2008 2:12pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
Would someone please tell how I can avoid these multiple posts? It only happens to me here on the VC. I have tried different browsers, I have cleared my cookies, I have logged in and logged, and I am on the verge of reinstalling my OS. I am sure the problem is on my end. When I am posting from school or work I never get multiple posts. Also, could this have something to do with the wireless router I use?
10.5.2008 2:15pm
therut (mail):
They were in Arkansas close to where I work last year. They are nasty dopers. They also steal. The come to the ER and do not pay. I heard they will not be back as they found ticks all over themselves(maybe in some places they have not washed in years). Good.
10.5.2008 2:18pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
Wow, the partisan vitriol is really out in force this morning. Yes, the ACLU defends some silly (or at least unjustified) liberal policies that I think should be described as taking away liberty (gun control). However, the ACLU also defends important but unpopular principles of liberty as well, e.g., the skokie nazi case and various other free speech and association issues. In other words if you have any respect for the bill or rights or individual liberty you have to admit that sometimes the ACLU is on the correct side in a case.

Alright then let's consider the situation here. Is the Rainbows group a of hippies, a fair number of which likely smoke pot? Yes, almost certainly. However, there are important issues of liberty involved if the government searches my property solely on the basis of my choice of dress and association rather than individualized suspicion. For instance I think we would all agree that the majority of NORML members have pot in their homes. Hell, finding out someone is a NORML member is probably a better probabilistic indicator of the presence of pot in their home than the evidence given on most search warrants. However, it would be a serious violation of liberty if the government could stop people and search them justified solely on their political beliefs and associations.

The article doesn't give enough details to make it totally clear what happened but it's quite easy to see what might have happened. The forest service, noticing that almost all Rainbows members are dirty pot smoking hippies uses this (correct) stereotype to conclude that Rainbows members they see are likely in possession of a controlled substance and hence have probable cause to search Now it doesn't seem like the ACLU is even necessarily saying that there was some kind of constitutional violation here (they aren't suing) but I think they have a valid concern when the principle trigger for searches is an individuals political/cultural associations (dresses like hippie, member of hippie group).

The point is that we simply don't have enough information to say whether this was a reasonable or unreasonable complaint.

-----

As an aside I'm wondering how much of this great expense the forest service claims was required to monitor these rainbows gathers would have been avoided if they just let the hippies get stoned in peace. I don't want to be a hippie but it's quite sad to see a country founded on the principals of liberty and self-determination come in and tell peaceful stoners that the government has decided their lifestyle is unacceptable and therefore illegal.
10.5.2008 2:42pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I agree with Jerome and not Ardvark, my experience is that they may try to clean up after themselves, but invariably leave a huge mess.

The other thing that I remember was that the Forest Service sets limits on how many people can camp at any location, and the Rainbow Family tended to greatly exceed that. The reasons for the limits are not just for the trash, but also for other human damage to the ecology.

While at one level, you can argue that this infringes their rights, on the other, you have to remember that federal lands are held in trust and managed by these agencies for the benefit of the American people. The camping limitations are typically not set for just this one group, but exist long before they ever apply for their permits (and are likely part of the long range Forest Service planning models). So, what we are really seeing here is the ACLU backing one group's right to take from the commons.
10.5.2008 3:08pm
therut (mail):
The State of Arkansas gave 25,000 to our little hospital to cover these peoples expenses. It cost the tax-payers. Few snake bites, gastroenteritis, and drug related problems and other routine problems.
10.5.2008 3:31pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Years back I researched Forest Service regs for large gatherings. Turned out the rule was adopted almost entirely in light of Rainbow gatherings. The rule's explanation was of course Forest Service's side of things, but described major problems with trash being left, human waste deposited around, a hepatitis outbreak, and of course tons of drugs.

The comments were interesting. Rainbow objected to the requirement that someone sign a permit application, on the grounds that they had no leadership or organization, were sort of the Monte Python self-governing collective, minus the self governing, and since no one person could speak for them, no one could sign. I wondered just how someone had submitted the comment raising this issue in the group's name....
10.5.2008 3:42pm
one of many:
M. Cole, you are just being silly. Hippie licenses will be highly sought after and a lottery system will be in place allowing winners to shoot ONE hippie each, and you will have to be a local to even enter the lottery. You might be able to qualify as a local to enter the lottery if you haven't changed you legal address, but unless you win a license don't waste any money on a hippie gun.


AS to the actual issue I wonder if the ACLU, which isn't filing a suit on the issue, got involved in early outrage and when they started investigating realized they were on shaky ground and just released this report to avoid offending people. If there were actual substance to the police abuse charges I doubt the ACLU would have gone without at least getting a response from the USFS.
10.5.2008 4:20pm
Smokey:
Jerome Cole:
Would someone please tell how I can avoid these multiple posts?
If you inadvertently click more than once on the "POST COMMENT" button, that results in a post for every click.
10.5.2008 4:20pm
Elmer:
In certain landscapes a great many vehicles can be parked and a great many people can camp without much lasting effect on said landscapes, if the event is well managed. The 2006 gathering near Steamboat was fairly well managed by the Rainbows, but their choice of a high meadow for a gathering of 10,000+ people meant degradation of the land. The Rainbows were not bothered by this, claiming the land will be fine in a few years. The Forest Service disagrees, finding years of degradation too high a price for Rainbow entertainment. My understanding of the law is that the Forest Service is acting within its legal authority, and within its mission of balancing the desires of different users.

A local forest ranger had several visits from a Rainbow who was scouting for a gathering place. Naturally, the ranger was less than helpful. At one point the Rainbow became angry. The ranger told him she felt a lot of negative energy around him, which should be taken elsewhere. He left without a word.
10.5.2008 4:45pm
jbn (mail):

The two or three Rainbow Family people I've known . . . would pick up their trash in a park, in any event.

It has been my misfortune to drive into areas in the days following Rainbow gatherings twice: once in Kanawha State Forest in West Virginia and another time in a park in Tennessee whose name I have forgotten.

I have never seen anything like it before in my life.

I have seen campsites following large gatherings where there was inadequate garbage pick-up - in those instances people at least make some effort to pile the trash on or near trash cans or dumpsters that are overflowing. Not after the Rainbow gatherings.

Trash strewn everywhere - it looked like the aftermath of a flood or a hurricane. It was simply inbelievable.
10.5.2008 10:27pm
LoopFiasco:
What we see here is the same tactics we see elsewhere - with things like summer music concerts, etc...

If the coppers know in advance there are going to be people assembling who may or may not individually partake in forbidden substances, they set up "safety roadblocks" etc...

While we can certainly quibble over whether the absolute certainty that at least one person of the whole group will have illegal drugs is grounds to have PC to stop them all - - i would hope that a libertarian blog and its readers can see WHY when this does happen people get upset.

This is not to condone the hippies' trashing of forest lands - which is comically ironic in itself - but this whole preemptive policy based on what appears to me to be a fishing expedition is fundamentally incompatible with liberty.

I am going to a music festival next summer. This music festival is known to have people in the past there who have used drugs. Does this mean I will have drugs when I go? Why do i have to be a suspect because of what others have or have not done, or been caught with or arrested for in the past?

One person out of 30 comments here sees a problem with this?
10.5.2008 10:27pm
TCO:
You're a fucking moron, Posner. Just stop posting.
10.5.2008 10:55pm
DG:
I'm as pro-drug legalization as they come, but if people thing the Forest Service is harassing the Rainbows because of drugs, they're high. The Forest Service is using the drug issue to harass people that they think are abusing public lands in a particularly horrible way. Most Forest Service folks are not exactly drug warriors, but they do take protection of the parks very seriously and take in personally when people leave heaps of trash everywhere and rip up the forest.
10.6.2008 2:18am
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
"If Treasury buys up an entire class of securities, it will buy them from solvent institutions as well as insolvent institutions. These solvent institutions don't need help from the government; only the insolvent institutions do."

Not a valid objection. Why should those who were extra stupid about these securities get more? If they really think that's a concern then just tie the bailout to restrictions on corporate executive salaries, stock options and bonuses. That's sure to make those greedy SOBs balk at taking the money.
10.6.2008 7:26am
Oren:

The Forest Service is using the drug issue to harass people that they think are abusing public lands in a particularly horrible way.

Agree entirely, but that's also wrong. They should start issuing them huge tickets for improper disposal of human waste ($1000 fine IIRC) -- after they haven't paid 3 of 'em, they can start getting injunctions on visiting the park until they've paid.
10.6.2008 9:51am
Virginian:
A huge, unruly bunch of hippies gathering unwanted in a park? Sounds like a job for Cartman!
10.6.2008 11:25am
Fub:
The Rainbow Gathering seems to be marginally larger (as many as ~50,000 campers) than the Burning Man event (~40,000), but the former appears to face disproportionately far greater opposition from government authorities than the latter.
10.6.2008 4:05pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
The Forest Service is using the drug issue to harass people that they think are abusing public lands in a particularly horrible way. Most Forest Service folks are not exactly drug warriors, but they do take protection of the parks very seriously and take in personally when people leave heaps of trash everywhere and rip up the forest.
Agreed, except that "parks" are Interior, and "forests" are Agriculture. The Forest Service employees whom I have known (having shared a building with them for eight years and provided the agency with its EDP) are quick to make the distinction between their agency and the Park Service (and BLM).
10.6.2008 5:33pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
The Forest Service is using the drug issue to harass people that they think are abusing public lands in a particularly horrible way. Most Forest Service folks are not exactly drug warriors, but they do take protection of the parks very seriously and take in personally when people leave heaps of trash everywhere and rip up the forest.
Agreed, except that "parks" are Interior, and "forests" are Agriculture. The Forest Service employees whom I have known (having shared a building with them for eight years and provided the agency with its EDP) are quick to make the distinction between their agency and the Park Service (and BLM).
10.6.2008 5:37pm
travis (www):
http://www.all-encompassingly.com/hungry-hungry-hippies/
10.6.2008 9:53pm
one of many:
Fub,

I think you have it backwards, Burning Man has probably faced more government "oposition". The difference is that instead of ignoring government requests and requirements, Burning Man has considered government requests and fulfilled government requirements (mostly, and made good faith efforts on those they miss).
10.7.2008 2:54am