Ravers Against The Machine 

Ravers Against The Machine 
Posted by CN Staff on July 17, 2002 at 21:33:03 PT
By David Montgomery, Washington Post Staff Writer
Source: Washington Post 
Two young women on an urgent mission have been lugging boxes into the offices of U.S. senators this week. The boxes contain petitions an inch thick, one for each senator. Nearly 10,000 signatures were collected over the Internet in five days.The petitions declare: "This bill is a serious threat to civil liberties, freedom of speech and the right to dance." Look out, Congress: The ravers are coming. 
"We're offended by the fact they're blackballing an entire musical genre," said Amanda Huie, checking senators' names off her list Tuesday afternoon.The genre in question is electronic dance music, which fans enjoy at all-night parties called raves. Legislation in Congress could hold promoters responsible if people attending the events use illegal drugs such as Ecstasy, the party drug frequently associated with raves.The Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act of 2002 -- or the RAVE Act -- has cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee and is on the consent calendar, meaning it could receive final approval without a roll call vote at any time. When he introduced the bill in June, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) said "most raves are havens for illicit drugs," and congressional findings submitted with the bill label as drug paraphernalia such rave mainstays as bottled water, "chill rooms" and glow sticks.The bill would expand the existing federal crack house law, which makes it a felony to provide a space for the purpose of illegal drug use, to cover promoters of raves and other events.Another bill pending in the House -- the Clean, Learn, Educate, Abolish, Neutralize and Undermine Production (CLEAN-UP) of Methamphetamines Act, introduced by Rep. Doug Ose (R-Calif.) -- goes further. It would hold concert promoters in violation if they "reasonably ought to know" that someone will use an illegal drug during an event. The House bill has 67 sponsors but has languished in committee since February, while in one month the RAVE Act -- sponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) -- has sailed smoothly to the brink of approval. Caught by surprise, some ravers briefly considered a more theatrical protest on the Hill, perhaps showing off totems of their culture -- rainbow hair, baggy pants, extended trance jams and those controversial glow sticks. But no. This is Washington, and ravers know the folkways. Huie, dressed quietly in slacks and shirt, said people from 49 states signed the petition. (Ravers must be scarce in North Dakota.)"This is a petition about S. 2633," Huie told receptionists in office after office, referring to the bill number with insider aplomb. She is the marketing director of Buzzlife Productions, a Washington promoter.Biden's staff has been surprised, too -- by the sudden outcry. "We thought this would be an innocuous bill that everybody would rally in support of," said Alan Hoffman, Biden's chief of staff.After all, the bill merely adjusts the wording of the so-called crack house law. For example, crack houses are fixed indoor locations; the RAVE Act would also cover temporary outdoor venues.So what?"It violates the First Amendment," said Marv Johnson, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.Johnson argues that while there is no constitutional right to smoke crack, there is, in fact, a right to dance. Music and dance are protected forms of free expression, he said. By extending the crack house law to dance parties, the RAVE Act would discourage promoters from sponsoring this kind of art, he said.The ACLU was caught as flat-footed as the ravers, and is seeking a senator to put a "hold" on the bill, to get it off the consent calendar and force a voice vote.Biden rejects the ACLU's characterization. The issue is the drugs, he said, not the music. The bill was prompted by unsuccessful prosecutions of rave promoters under the crack house law. Introducing the bill, Biden said Ecstasy is responsible for thousands of overdoses and some deaths, and its abuse by teenagers has jumped 71 percent since 1999. He said police investigations in several cities demonstrate that raves are a favorite place to buy, sell and take Ecstasy tablets.Some promoters distribute fliers bearing pictures of pills or argot for Ecstasy such as "E" or "X" or "Rollin' " -- evidence that doing drugs is part of the purpose of those raves, Biden said. Under his bill, only promoters who stage events for that purpose would be prosecuted.But that may not be much of a safeguard for legitimate promoters, according to the ACLU and rave advocates. The congressional findings attached to the bill bluntly state that "the trafficking and use of 'club drugs' . . . is deeply embedded in the rave culture." The findings become part of the legislative history of the bill and could support a prosecutor's claim that any rave should be suspect, Johnson said. The RAVE Act provides for civil penalties of $250,000 or twice the gross proceeds of the rave, requiring a lower burden of proof than the crack house law's criminal penalties, Johnson said."The way the system really works is, you arrest and accuse and then you fight it out in court," said Lonnie Fisher, president of Ultraworld Productions in Baltimore. "They could break the back of a small promoter financially."But Grassley, in a statement yesterday, said the RAVE Act is an appropriate extension of the crack house law: "There are people who host raves so they can sell Ecstasy, just as there are people who rent houses so they can sell drugs. We've seen raves advertised as safe, alcohol-free and drug-free places for kids to socialize and dance. If this is what the promoter actually intends, then they don't have anything to worry about."Ravers seem most offended by what they say is another smear to the reputation of their strobe-lit scene. They contend that police, politicians and media have exaggerated the amount of criminal activity in rave culture since it began more than a decade ago. There are plenty of drugs at rock shows, too, ravers claim, yet no senator has proposed a ROCK Act."This bill seems to imply that people go to raves to do drugs, and the music is there to accentuate the drug experience," said Luciana Lopez of Washington, who is protesting the legislation. A copy editor for a science journal, she said she neither drinks nor uses drugs -- but does wear green and blue wigs to raves."This culture is really important to me," she said. She described the euphoria of dancing for hours with people who may start as strangers but who by early the next morning are exchanging hugs and phone numbers. "It makes you feel part of a community," she said.The water and the "chill rooms" are for cooling off after dancing, she said, not because so many ravers are overheated on Ecstasy. And the glow sticks look cool.Lopez and many Washington ravers are found Friday nights at Buzz, the weekly rave party sponsored by Buzzlife at Nation, the club on Half Street SE. The cover charge is $15 before 11 p.m., $20 after, and the dancing stops at 6 a.m., according to Huie. Three years ago, a local television station went undercover at Buzz and broadcast alleged drug use. In the welter of bad publicity, Buzz temporarily shut down. The ravers claimed the discovery of drugs was blown out of proportion. Now ravers must empty their pockets at the door, according to Huie.Congress has taken up the issue of rave culture at least once before. A year ago, as part of a celebration of Detroit's tricentennial, the House and Senate passed a resolution congratulating the city for, among other things, helping to pioneer techno, the electronic dance music popular at raves.Note: Partiers and ACLU Take On 'Ecstasy' Legislation. Source: Washington Post (DC)Author: David Montgomery, Washington Post Staff WriterPublished: Thursday, July 18, 2002; Page A01 Copyright: 2002 The Washington Post Company Contact: letterstoed washpost.comWebsite: Related Article & Web Sites:ACLU Bill: S.2633 Addicted To The Quick Fix
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Comment #9 posted by E_Johnson on July 18, 2002 at 09:17:17 PT
Put a federal ban on Happy Hour culture!
Seize the assets of anyone who promotes or hosts events where there are cocktail napkins with stupid sex jokes, little pink paper parasols to put in drinks, and jukeboxes with old Billy Joel songs on them.Those salted bar nuts are another sign of Happy Hour culture that have to go. Nachos, chips, beer nuts, all of the cultural parapernalia of this deadly alcohol culture, it all has to go.Sitting on bar stools slugging back margaritas is a known danger to parents across the country, and their children should not put up with it for one more day.American young people need to start sponsoring restrictive legislation on the deadly Happy Hour culture of America so they can protect their parents from horrific damages of alcohol abuse that have destroyed so many lives in this nation of ours.
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Comment #8 posted by Lehder on July 18, 2002 at 07:57:25 PT
maybe it was freudian. maybe ej will receive a nobel prize in physics or nobull prize in dissent. maybe janet reno will recieve a nobel peace prize soon, and a children's prison will be built in her honor.
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Comment #7 posted by Lehder on July 18, 2002 at 07:51:27 PT
nobel sentiments, EJ
Kids need to protect their aging parents from the dangers of recreational alcohol use.Q: What's the best way to keep adults off alcohol? 
A: Put their children in prison, The Janet Reno Memorial Children's Prison in Waco.
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Comment #6 posted by xxdr_zombiexx on July 18, 2002 at 07:35:23 PT
article and links
I wrote up and posted the following article. I saw the RAVE legislation AND Minority Report on the same day, and well, it just happened......
Open Your Eyes
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Comment #5 posted by John Tyler on July 18, 2002 at 06:52:25 PT
Inside the beltway
Leglislalors develop an incredible amount of political tunnel vision. They never seem to understand or care that their handiwork can be and is misapplied and misinterpreted to the detriment of the public. Their only response is "we didn't intend for it to be used that way". They tried to sneak this one by, but got caught.
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Comment #4 posted by pppp on July 17, 2002 at 23:47:20 PT
I agree with this guy!
"      WE CAN STOP CEO FRAUD - HERE'S HOW       My View: By Chris Weigant       IN THE frenzy of new corporate crime-busting laws getting passed by publicity-hungry
      politicians, I'd like to offer a modest proposal to use stronger law enforcement methods to
      deter such crime.       To begin with, the accounting police should be given wide latitude in evidence-gathering,
      using wiretaps and other technology to monitor executives' phone calls, e-mail, hard drives,
      and even keystrokes while they type. As long as investigators act "in good faith," this
      evidence would be allowable in court.       Since corporate criminals routinely destroy evidence, when raiding offices police need
      "no-knock" warrants. Cops could break into corporate headquarters at any time, without
      having to identify themselves, gain permission for entry, or show a search warrant in
      advance. The electrical power to the building should be cut before raids, to avoid any
      last-minute shredding.       Since conspiracy is equal to actually committing the crime in the eyes of the law, any two
      people who had a conversation about such crimes can be prosecuted. This includes family
      members, so the threat of prosecuting spouses and children should be used when
      questioning corporate officials. Paid informants could also be used, and prisoners could
      have their sentences reduced for testifying.       Asset forfeiture should aggressively be used against all corporate officers and accounting
      firm executives. All executives' houses, luxury yachts, private planes, vacation homes,
      vehicles and bank accounts should be seized immediately whenever there is the slightest
      suspicion of corporate crime. None of these assets could be used to pay legal fees, or bail.       If it turns out later that there is not enough evidence to convict ( or even to prosecute ), then
      executives would be free to put up a bond and sue to regain their property. Of course, they
      would have to meet the burden of proof that they legally obtained the property, instead of the
      government's having to prove it was acquired illegally.       If the executive eventually did win in court, they would have to pay storage and other related
      costs in order to regain their property.       Once convicted, corporate criminals would be handed mandatory minimum sentences of 10
      years, 25 years, or life, depending solely on the amount of money involved ( not the
      seriousness of the offense ). These sentences would be in ordinary federal prisons ( not
      minimum security "country clubs" ). There would be no hope of early release or parole,
      except for one loophole: convicts' sentences could be reduced by implicating other corporate
      officials in crimes ( although not necessarily more senior officials or more serious crimes ).       If the prisoners can't implicate anyone else, perhaps they can convince a member of their
      family to set up a "sting" operation to catch some other corporate official in wrongdoing.       Sound farfetched? Do you think this would be an unprecedented use of police power, and
      new laws would have to be passed to allow such things in America? Think again. All of the
      above law enforcement tools have already been successfully used, most of them related to
      the war on drugs.       The legal precedents have already been set by courts all the way up to the Supreme Court. 
      These law enforcement powers exist and are being used on a daily basis.       So why not use them evenhandedly? Our society can either have two standards of law
      enforcement, or have a single standard applied to all. When our justice system treats
      corporate criminals the same way it treats everyone else, then we will have achieved "justice
      for all."       Wouldn't it be enjoyable to watch an episode of "COPS" on TV where Ken Lay's vacation
      home gets raided and confiscated?       Most important, wouldn't the corporate boardroom atmosphere change just a little bit if they
      knew all this would happen to them when there was just the suspicion of wrongdoing? 
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Comment #3 posted by E_Johnson on July 17, 2002 at 23:01:37 PT
Those days are over dude
Biden's staff has been surprised, too -- by the sudden outcry. "We thought this would be an innocuous bill that everybody would rally in support of," said Alan Hoffman, Biden's chief of staff.
Innocuous to people whose substance abuse comes with nachos and jukebox oldies and is marketed under the label Happy Hour.Hey let's agitate for a bill that outlaws any business establishment that offers a Happy Hour.Kids need to protect their aging parents from the dangers of recreational alcohol use.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on July 17, 2002 at 21:59:46 PT
JR Does This Help?
Take Action!Property Rights and Right to Dance Under Attack The Senate should reject S. 2633 (the RAVE Act), which is a threat to property rights and the right to dance. The bill is moving very quickly and your Senators need to hear from you, right away. We encourage you to modify the letter so your legislators hear *your* voice. Tell me more
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Comment #1 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on July 17, 2002 at 21:52:49 PT
Where can I sign?
  Someone post the URL to the petition mentioned at the top of the piece, please!!
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