September 29, 2003

the Academy Award of protest

Paul Krassner on his use of LSD on the stand at the Chicago 7 trial.

an excerpt:

"I had brought a stash of LSD with me, but things were too tense for an acid party. Instead, I decided to take a tab of acid before I took the witness stand --- call me a sentimental fool --- but it wasn't merely to enhance the experience. I had a more functional reason. My purpose was twofold. I knew that if I ingested 300 micrograms of LSD after eating a big meal, I was very likely to throw up in court. That would be my theatrical statement on the injustice of the trial. Also, I wouldn't need to memorize so much information that way. I had to psych myself up, to imagine it actually happening. The prosecutor would ask, 'Now where did this meeting take place?' And I would go 'Waughhhhhppp!' They couldn't charge me with contempt of court because they wouldn't know I had done it on purpose. The judge would say, 'Bailiff, get him out of here!' But just as he was dragging me away, I would get one more projectile off, onto the judge's podium --- 'Waughhhhhppp!' And, although there would be no photographic record of this incident because cameras weren't allowed, courtroom artists would capture my vomit with green and gold charcoal crayons for the eleven o'clock news.

"Next day at lunch, while the others were passing around a chunk of hash, I took out a tab of LSD. Abbie said, 'What's that, acid? I don't think that's a good idea.' Jerry said, 'I think he should do it.' I swallowed it despite what both of them said. The acid really began to hit while I was waiting in the witness room. A few volunteers were watching film footage of Dave Dellinger pleading with a crowd at the convention: 'Stay calm! Stay calm!' I said, 'Boy, when the jury sees this, it'll really be clear that Dave was doing anything but trying to start a riot.' The volunteers laughed. 'Are you kidding?' said one. 'They're never gonna allow that to be admitted as evidence.' Then suddenly I was thrust into the middle of a Looney Toons cartoon. It happened at the precise moment that I was escorted into the court by Tom Hayden and Jerry Rubin --- or, as I perceived them, Tom and Jerry. The furniture started dancing merrily.

"Judge Julius Hoffman looked exactly like Elmer Fudd. I expected him to proclaim, 'Let's get them pesky wadicals!' The court clerk looked exactly like Goofy. It didn't matter that a Disney character was making a guest appearance in a Looney Toons cartoon --- one learns to accept such discrepancies in a dreamlike state. Now I was being instructed by Goofy to raise my right hand and place my left hand on a Bible that was positively vibrating. 'Do you hereby swear,' asked Goofy, 'that the testimony you are about to give in the cause now on trial before this court and jury shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?' The truth for me was that LSD --- or any other catalyst for getting in closer touch with your subconscious; whether it be meditation, Zen, yoga --- served as a reminder that choices are being made every moment. So naturally I assumed that Goofy was offering me a choice. 'No,' I replied.

"Although I hadn't planned to say that, I realized it was a first in American jurisprudence. Ordinarily, the more heinous a crime the more eagerly will a defendant take the oath. However, my refusal to swear on the Bible was a leap of faith. Everything was swirling around in pastel colors, but there was still a core of reality I was able to grasp, and somehow I managed to flash back to a civics class in junior high school when we had studied the Bill of Rights in general and the First Amendment in particular. Now I found myself passing that lesson on to Goofy. 'I believe in the constitutional provision for the separation of church and state, so I will choose to affirm to tell the truth.'

"'Let him affirm,' said Elmer Fudd --- begrudgingly, it seemed to me, as if to say, Let 'im reasort to the goddamn Constitution! I had seen only artists' charcoal renditions of the missing defendant, Bobby Scale, on TV newscasts, and now I was hallucinating a generic courtroom sketch of Seale, tied to his chair with a gag over his mouth.

"The defense attorney, William Kunstler, looked exactly like the Wise Old Owl. The prosecutor looked exactly like the Big Bad Wolf. I felt exactly like Alice in Wonderland. The Wise Old Owl was questioning me about the original Yippie meeting."

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