DETROIT FREE PRESS
ON GUARD FOR 140 YEARS
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 1971
Punished for Being Sinclair
The Michigan Supreme Court has granted John Sinclair the right to appeal his 1969 conviction for marijuana possession, and the court is to rule shortly on his request for bond pending the outcome of that appeal.
Certainly he should be allowed bond. His applications have been denied by lower courts on the grounds that he would be likely to repeat his offense again were he let free.
Considering the nature of the offense -- possession of two marijuana cigarettes -- and the case with which far more dangerous criminals gain their bonds, those grounds would seem to reinforce the general impression that justice has been applied selectively in Sinclair's case.
He has now served two years in prison. Many people believe he is there not for the popular crime of marijuana possession but rather for being John Sinclair -- a long haired, profane, self-aggrandizing libertine, a hippie guru, a proselytizer for marijuana and other drugs.
In the public clashes that have occurred between the old morality and the new -- between shorthairs and longhairs, beer-guzzlers and potheads, fathers and sons -- our police and judges have sometimes demonstrated a lamentable disregard for the impartiality -- a better word might be "fairness" -- with which they were supposed to discharge their duties.
That disregard has disturbed older adults than John Sinclair. If the legal system would preserve respect from a disillusioned citizenry, it must return to the old standard of fairness. And by any fair standard John Sinclair has been sufficiently punished for his crime.