Battling the Barlow Bust


Electronic Frontier Foundation founder and Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow got arrested on an airplane last September for some illegal drugs allegedly found in his checked baggage during a security search. Barlow first discussed this situation in the media during my interview with him in the Aug./Sept. issue of Reason. Now he's giving an even more detailed account of what happened, and his legal fight to have the search suppressed (which has so far failed–his initial motion to suppress was rejected in court last week) on his blog, and other media outlets are beginning to take notice (see his blog entry for other news clips).

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  1. The problem here is not that bags are checked before being loaded onto airplanes full of people. You want to get on an airplane when the bags aren’t being screened? The problem is drug prohibition.

    Just as the problem with beat cops busting kids for smoking joints on the back porch is not that there are beat cops keeping their eyes open. You want your neighborhood to be a place where people’s feel free to perform criminal acts, because there aren’t any cops about? The problem is drug prohibition.

    On the list of reasons why drug prohibition sucks, add “It turns otherwise responsible, law abiding citizens against legitimate security measures.”

  2. C’mon, Joe. The law’s the law. If it weren’t illegal it wouldn’t be a problem, but rules is rules.

  3. Joe asked: “You want to get on an airplane when the bags aren’t being screened?”

    Yes, as long as the passengers aren’t “screened” either. If I could get on a plane without going through the airport Gestapo, I would actually fly again.

  4. A first-hand report — and a shameless plug for a friend’s web site — at

    From the “You never know who you’ll run into” department, I was wandering through the San Mateo Halls of Injustice, trying to take care of a $777.21 felony parking ticket, when I noticed all of the news cameras. Turns out, it was no less than Jim Gilmore and John Perry Barlow, two of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization dedicated to defending online privacy rights. John Gilmore is currently fighting for our right to travel anonymously on airplanes. John Perry Barlow was in court trying to defend our fourth amendment rights in the airport. Read my diatribe about here.

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