Department of Homeland Security

Missoula Police to Homeland Security: Help Us Protect Montana from the Hippie Menace

The Rainbow Family is an extremist threat now?


The Missoulian reports:

Ready to face the patchouli threat

The Missoula Police Department got the nod Wednesday to have the mayor sign off on a Homeland Security grant proposal—one that names the Rainbow Family as an "extremist" hazard in western Montana.

The $254,930 grant will purchase a mobile communications vehicle the Missoula police will share with other law enforcement and emergency responders in seven western Montana counties, according to Assistant Police Chief Scott Hoffman. The city's contribution is $29,200….

The draft letter from Mayor John Engen is addressed to the state Department of Military Affairs in Helena, and the proposal names natural, technological and man-made hazards. Among other specifics, the list cites avalanches, train derailments and extremist groups, naming the Hells Angels and Rainbow Family in particular.

Rainbow rules

The Rainbow Family is a loose network of hippies who meet in a different national forest each year. Fights have been known to break out at their events, but for the most part they're about as violent as an opium den. The Rainbows are a thorn in the side of law enforcement because they don't get permits, because they smoke a lot of weed, and because some of them like to run around naked, but the biggest problem you can attribute to them is that they sometimes leave a bit of a mess. Whatever else you might say about them, they are not an "extremist" threat, and the troubles they might cause have nothing to do with "homeland security." (And the Hells Angels aren't "extremists" either, even if some of them think it's cool to wear swastikas.)

But the police do tend to get excited when the Rainbows come to town. In 2008 an ACLU report argued that the Rainbows have faced a "pattern" of "harassment and general over zealous enforcement" from the Forest Service cops. State and local police have often taken the same approach. When Reason ran a dispatch from the 2000 Rainbow Gathering—held in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in, yes, Montana—our reporter described "aerial flyovers, mounted patrols through the Gathering, increased state and local patrols on area roads," and a bunch of citations and arrests, including one for a drunken assault but mostly for victimless crimes.

If that's how the Montana police think they should handle the hippies, it isn't surprising that they'd grab an opportunity to have the feds help pay for their tools, especially if they can use the same federally funded vehicle to deal with genuine emergencies. And if they think it's helpful to mutter something about "extremists" to get the dollars flowing, well, they know what Homeland Security wants to hear. What isn't clear is why taxpayers in the rest of the country should be subsidizing this.

Bonus link: If you think it's unlikely that Washington will approve the grant, check out Gene Healy's column on some of the items Homeland Security has already agreed to pay for.

NEXT: Obama Targets Tax Breaks for Publicly Funded Sports Stadiums

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    1. It’s weird world.

      Hippies in the late ’60s early ’70s weren’t dressing up as hippies–just like cowboys don’t dress up as cowboys. They’re cowboys because they ride around on horses taking care of cows and compete at rodeos, what have you.

      Punks in the early ’80s weren’t dressing up as punks–that was just what they thought was cool at the time. People who dress like punks did because they want to be like something, however, are basically in a punk rock Halloween costume. They’re not actually punks–they’re posers.

      I think it’s that way with hippies, too, for a while, except if you get enough poser hippies together for long enough, some of them actually become the hippie costume they’re wearing.

      Hippies may be unique that way. If you dress up like a hippie and act like a hippie for long enough, you can actually turn into a hippie. But you have to really drop a certain amount of acid, and you may have to genuinely enjoy some really shitty music, too.

      1. I knew a guy who was part of the Rainbow family a while back. He looked more like a skinhead than a hippie. He’s dead now. Drug overdose. Oh well.

        1. Too bad.

          Montana must be getting weirder all the time.

          Used to be known for the local militia movements, now they’ve got hippies, too?

          You know what used to be like that back in the day?

          Yeah, that’s right. Southern California.

          Maybe Montana is the new California!

        2. What was his name?

          I know a skinhead who was eaten by the rainbows.

          He vacillitated between looking like a skinhead and looking like a hippie.

          1. He went by many names. His Rainbow name was Color, his birth name was Joe (which he hated), and now I can’t remember the name he went by at work. I think it was derived from his last name. Fuck. That sucks. Really nice guy, but a bit of a leach. Supposedly he mixed pills with booze and is dead, but I’m not so sure I trust the person who told me. Whatever. Don’t matter.

      2. Rainbow people aren’t dressing up as hippies, they ARE hippies.

        I’ve never been to a Rainbow Gathering, but I know enough about them to know that they aren’t advertised, you have to find out by word of mouth within the Rainbow community.

        Also, Rainbows generally live in that community full time. They don’t have regular jobs. They somehow manage to survive off of selling hemp jewelry and handmade junk, and couch surfing and charity. I’m baffled by how they get by, but I’m sure a lot of it is black/grey market.

        1. If anything, Rainbows are more extreme than the hippies ever were.

          They have actually sucessfully managed to “drop out” and form what seems to be an independent parallel economy. I’m sure it’s largely sustained by sales of new age junk to stupid middle-class liberals, but still.

          In lots of ways they are more like gypsies than hippies.

          1. Patchouli… lots of patchouli

            1. Nobody actually buys the patchouli except hippies though. So that doesn’t explain it.

              I suspect a vast underground economy involving weed products of all sorts. There are certainly enough buyers of weed around the country to sustain a weed-based Rainbow economy. And they are spread-the-wealth types so the ones who make money selling weed spend it buying the organic-and-weed-based food products that the others make on their communes.

      3. I went to the first Rainbow Family Gathering of the Tribes back in the early ’70s. It was kind of cool and weird, and I don’t recall any trouble whatsoever. The cops were pretty laid back about it all, and seemed mostly concerned about vehicles being parked in a safe and unobstructive way. I talked to one Colorado state trooper, and he said he’d probably have joined in back when he was 18 years old. We had to hike about six miles to get to the gathering site, and I didn’t see any cops there. I recall that the dope market was undersupplied; you pretty much had to bring your own. Any whiff of smoke attracted friendly visitors. As you might expect, the male-to-female ratio was unfavorable for an unattached male.

        Most of us picked up after ourselves after it was over, but I imagine there still was a mess. And the trail in and out was definitely overburdened. There were no toilet facilities, and by the time it was over everyone there had become a stinking hippie regardless of his or her ordinary habits of hygiene. After camping out for a couple of days, I wanted nothing so much as a hot shower.

        1. “After camping out for a couple of days, I wanted nothing so much as a hot shower.”

          That happens to rednecks, too, though.

          I was in the back country with a pack for a while last summer. You go through a phase where you’d like a shower, and then a couple of days after that, you start dreading one for fear that it’ll keep you off the trail. Once you’re clean, it can be hard to go back out on the trail. And the trail is awesomeness.

          The female companionship opportunities are definitely limited and pretty raunchy. I have the same problem with motorcycle excursions. They want to fly at 85 mph + under the stars across Death Valley. They want to camp by and swim in a mountain stream somewhere up in the Sierras. But then you tell ’em that you’ll be using whatever public bathrooms you can find along the way, and it’s, “Let’s find a hotel in Hawaii”.

          This is why so many men spend $100,000+ on an RV. If you absolutely need to go into the outdoors, an RV is less expensive than a divorce, and she isn’t going with you into the wilderness anyway unless she can bring her own bathroom.

          1. Here’s a secret: baby wipes.

  1. God. Damn. Hippies.

    But, having said that, even hippies deserve civil rights. The Rainbow people are annoying at worst.

    1. Look, Tonio, don’t start with the animals should have human rights crap again.

      I kid. I think.

      1. Good one, Pro L.

  2. The best way to fight off hippies: Slayer.

    1. I’m not sure about that.

      Play Slayer covering Iron Butterfly enough times in a row, and hippies may start sprouting up all around you.

      1. Are you talking about the cover from the Less Than Zero soundtrack? That’s a good tune.

        1. Yeah, I just linked the live version.

          1. I’d say Iron Butterfly is about as hippie as you can get.

            With maybe this guy as a close second:


            I’d say something about the Dead. But I can’t take the Dead. I’ve tried to like the Grateful Dead, and I just can’t make myself do it.

            1. Enjoying the Dead requires a lot of drugs. I can’t stand them myself.

              Though I did go to a Phish concert once. One of those weekend events when 75K people camp out at an abandoned Air Force base. That was pretty cool. Still don’t like their music much, but it was still fun.

              1. I’ve done a lot of drugs. A lot. I still can’t stand The Grateful Dead.

                1. I meant you’ve got to be on a lot of drugs. The only time I’ve ever enjoyed their music was when I was tripping so hard I couldn’t walk.

                  1. You would have grooved to a jackhammer in that state.

            2. Whoa, no hating on “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” My wife and I used to make out to that hymn.

              1. I wasn’t hating on Iron Butterfly.

                Quite the opposite.

                Love that stuff.

      1. I’d rather run them over with my Bitchin Camaro.

              1. I need to start using that one for shreek.

    2. Excellent comment. But then no Youtube link? You fail.

  3. Nothing.

  4. The po-po have historically loved to smash them some hippie skulls. Back in the day, “straight” (non-hip) America was terrified of teh hippies so let the po-po have free rein. Now people just laugh at the smelly old clowns.

    1. Except that many of those smelly old clowns are in DC now. Yeah, think about that for a moment.

      1. I do, Pro L, every day. My generation immediately followed the hippies, and we have spent our entire lives being lectured by them. Cartman has nothing on me in terms of hippie hatred.

        1. So, for you, Easy Rider had a happy ending?

          1. It did for me.

    2. Fuck you, I don’t smell!

  5. Professor defends taking money from a convicted pedophile by saying there’s really nothing wrong with having sex with 14 year olds.

    ‘Another professor who has received funds from Epstein and defended him was Robert Trivers, a Rutgers University biologist who received about $40,000 from Epstein to study the link between knee symmetry and sprinting ability. Trivers questioned how bad the charges are, noting that girls mature earlier than used to be the case. “By the time they’re 14 or 15, they’re like grown women were 60 years ago, so I don’t see these acts as so heinous,” he told Reuters.’

    I feel like he could have handled this question better.

    1. Might as well have said “Old enough to bleed is old enough to breed.”

      1. If there’s grass on the field, play ball.

        1. If they can crawl they’re in the right position?

          Okay, now I feel unclean…

        2. The Brit version is better: Grass ’round the wicket? Play cricket.

    2. Sgt. Schultz could have handled that question better.

    3. Haven’t any of these guys heard of the magic of “No comment”, “I don’t feel it would be appropriate to comment at this time”, or my personal favorite “I couldn’t possibly comment”?

      1. All you need to say in this situation is ‘His money could be used to help people, his personal flaws have nothing to do with my research.’

        I don’t even understand why that question is getting asked. Someone’s using his money for knee research. What, am I supposed to say ‘sorry people with knee problems, I can’t use this guy’s money to help you since he’s a criminal!’

        1. People don’t say that because they don’t want to run the risk of the money spigot being turned off. As if that $40K wasn’t just for research but also half-assed public relations.

    4. First Brittney Cooper, now this idiot. Jesus Christ, what kind of lunatics have taken over Rutgers?

    5. Did I hear someone calling my name?

  6. I knew someone tangentially involved with The Rainbow People. Nice enough guy, very, very smart, brother of good friend. Kicked out of the Army for tripping acid while working a listening post in Germany. As he got more and more involved with the RP he got stranger and stranger. The last time I saw him, he crashed on our futon for a single night. We could never get the B.O. smell out of the futon and eventually had to throw it away.

    1. We could never get the B.O. smell out of the futon and eventually had to throw it away.


  7. OK, in round 1 the Rainbows square off vs. the Juggalos. Who else can we fill the bracket with?

    1. Hipsters vs.hydrofluoric acid?

      1. Care to see my etchings?

    2. Raiders fans vs. WTO protesters

    3. Moonies vs. Falun Gong.

      1. College Republicans vs. Mishawaka Breakfast Optimist Club

    4. Wanderfogelen vs. Phish phans.

    5. Occupy _________

    6. Burners vs. Makers.

    7. Anyone calling themselves “Mixologists.” You’re a bartender, snowflake.

      1. taking notes for new groups for Illuminati cards

  8. C’mon. The Rainbow Family are like harmless kittens. Smelly, dumb kittens.

  9. I got dragged to one of those by a girlfriend, in central PA, but it’s all pretty hazy. Lots of dirty hippies talking like stupid fucking hippies “aura” “spirit animal”and low-rent socialism – “we’ll all share these pancakes”.

    All I remember is mud, smoking an epic amount of mediocre weed and having sex with a woman who wasn’t my girlfriend – and yes, about 10% of those rainbow people walk around naked, even though it was 60degrees and raining.

    Not the worst holiday.

  10. “the biggest problem you can attribute to them is that they sometimes leave a bit of a mess”

    And $180,000+ in unpaid medical bills, or is that counted as part of their mess?

    To me the most interesting thing to me about this story, and one that nobody really seems to be reporting, is that as far as I can tell, there has never been a Rainbow Family Gathering within 100 miles of Missoula. According to Wikipedia, the last two have been in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, which is ~3 hours away from Missoula, and the one before that back in the 1970s was north of I-90 and east of I-15.

    1. That must be just the big annual main one around July 4. I understand there are various smaller Rainbow gatherings.

      Years ago I had a notion to go to the big one to supply their Kiddie Camp with a pool and my non-irritating foaming formula ? ? but I preferred to stay nearby, shoot homemade fireworks, and have my own company for a picnic.

  11. Welcome to Missoula. No long haired men, short haired women, or nappy headed anybody. Also, stay off our lawns.

    1. Listening to people outside of Montana talk about Missoula is quite hilarious.

      1. I honestly didn’t have any idea where Missoula was nor do I know if I have ever met anyone one from there. Just trying to make a joke to match the headlines. I’m sure Missoulans are all fine people. They hate hippies so they can’t be all bad:)

        1. Oh, how I hated “Kim Williams in Missoula, Montana” on NPR (shudder).

      2. True, my buddy is in the legislature…couldn’t believe how the rest of the state hates Missoula. I live here and the progs that rule are worthy of all the ridicule they get.

  12. BTW, after some local blowback they shit canned the grant proposal.

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