Free John Sinclair! (1970)
Free John Sinclair
A letter from prison by John Sinclair
OK, onward: FREE SINCLAIR is a good idea, yes, I can really relate to that one. But the wider issue of marijuana laws as political tools is the real thing to work on, along with the so-called obscenity busts and all other busts that are related to our culture/life style. According to the honk culture, everything we do is illegal because THEY MAKE THE LAWS. The whole business of DEFINITION is really crucial and it’s crucial to make people see how it works, e.g. what is a law but some words oinked out by some honks meeting in a building somewhere and conspiring to douche some cultural group that lives differently than the lawmakers? It’s all the same old problem of image vs. reality. They sit up there and make the laws and then put them out into the national consciousness as if these new laws were handed down from God like the Ten Commandments or something. That’s why we were having our people go to those awful city council meetings in Ann Arbor so they could see exactly what the laws were and how they were passed.
Since we started doing that we’ve stopped them from outlawing a lot of our people’s activities, but that has to be done on a national basis so all the kids can see what’s going on. Who is John Mitchell, anyway? A finance Wall Street lawyer who managed Nixon’s campaign-I programmed the candidate, he said during the campaign-and was given the Department of Justice as his reward and because it’s the most important agency in gov’t now and in the months ahead. Who is Warren Hamburger but an old ponk who teamed with Nix and McCarthy (Joe) in the ’50s to get rid of the Commies and now gets his Supreme reward when his boy takes office. Who is Clement Haynsworth but some crook from S.C. who Nixon owed Strom Thurmond for whitewashing the southern delegates at the 1968 convention, and Strom threw his boy in the court as his reward and so the niggers won’t get any farther out of line. I mean, we know all this but the kids still look at it like it’s something weird or holy or some thing, or don’t pay any attention to it and just keep on doing their thing. This ponk in EVO talked about Woodstock being like a hip concentration camp, or said something about he could dig it if there was a groovy camp like that where they could all do their own thing and not have to bother with the awful nasty stuff in the world, No wonder the blacks have no respect for those creeps. But it is our job to educate the people, and it has to be done or we might as well forget the whole thing as far as I’m concerned. Because I don’t want any part of a Nation of imbeciles who sit around and shoot speed and listen to bogus records, and all.
I’ve had enough of that forever. And the other ones, the politicals, are just as bad too, and their culture is bogus as well. The records they listen to are even worse…. Anyway, there is still too much antagonism being directed at the bourgeoisie as in Ann Arbor, and not enough effort being made to educate the bourgeoisie as to who is in fact their enemy, i.e. the capitalists and the police lackeys and demagogic politicians…. Our rhetoric has been too irresponsible and too crazy in the past, mostly thru my own shortcomings, but also mostly because the times and conditions were very different. We have to be ever mindful that things are changing very very rapidly now, and that there are masses of people who are anxious to hear what we have to say….
One of the most important changes lately is that we are getting an increasingly greater opportunity to reach the masses of the people, as in these courts and in cases like mine and the Chicago conspiracy. People are beginning to wonder what we’re talking about, and it’s not enough just to say rock and roll, dope, and fucking in the streets. It’s time to push the 10- Point program and its significance for the masses, and how the present ruling structure is keeping the people from their rightful lives. I’ll try to finish that pamphlet up in the next couple of days, but I’ll have to study and think a long time before I start any important project to make sure I come up with the right thing. So please don’t get impatient, I’m doing all I can. But it has to be done, and unfortunately I can’t take any part in spreading it- that’s all up to you all, especially to you, Skip, because you’re the most eloquent. But we have to keep in mind the necessity of not alienating any more straight people than necessary-the SDS adventurists are really blowing it in that respect.
Now is the time, when the masses are starting to come around and listen to what we have been saying for years, to consolidate these gains and make them see that our struggle is their struggle. The Moratorium today is the biggest thing in history-two years ago this kind of protest was vilified and bad-mouthed throughout the honk culture. Now they’re running to endorse the end of the war and, by corollary, the end of imperialism. They don’t know how these things are connected, and it’s up to us to educate them and let them know what’s going on.
(Reprinted and excerpted from The Seed.)
Ed. Note: John Sinclair is a poet. He was a founder of The White Panthers and The MC5, a political rock group. He is serving 10 years in Marquette State Prison for giving two joints to a police agent.
Source: Leviathan Feb 1970
Update: John Sinclair has been free for a long time now, and resides in Amsterdam.
P.S. The Free John Sinclair campaign was given a huge boost when John Lennon wrote a song about it.
Posted by: skip
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