Wednesday, August 11, 2010

KMUD Vs the NARCs

California has a certain reputation with a particular plant. It's well earned with it's dispensaries and far left politics. But it's not all hippies and reggae.There is also  an interesting continuing situation at 91.1 KMUD, a community radio station in Redway, Humboldt County, CA. More here and here.

KMUD has been on air since may 8th 1987, and the broadcasts in question started shortly thereafter.What they are doing essentially is to tip off marijuana farmers about impending raids. It sounds like it might even be illegal, but not really. The station has been very suave about it from the very beginning when President Regan ramped up drug raids in Northern California... they began broadcasting their not-so-subtle hints. They sound something like these:
 “Around 9:40 a.m. this morning, a large gray helicopter was seen taking off from the Garberville airport, apparently heading toward Reed Mountain. The occupants were fully dressed in combat gear, and the convoy of cars they arrived in were unmarked.”
These broadcasts cover a lot more real estate than Redway California. KMUD simulcasts on 88.3 KMUE in Eureka and 90.3 KLAI in Laytonville and a translator, K258BQ-FM on 99.5 in Shelter Cove. KMUD program director Marianne Knorzer describes these reports as "benign."  Marijuana is grown legally in California's under it's medical marijuana laws. This of course continues to be in contrast to a federal ban on the substance. But the conflict is enforces inconsistently depending on the state and federal will to enforce laws. But locally there is no will, and the feds and even the Sheriff clearly toil in fruitless labor.  More here.

I had assumed this was illegal but even a local Sheriff being thwarted by the broadcasts appears to have accepted that this actually still falls under protected free speech. I'll quote Mendocino Country Sheriff Tom Allman 
"If they know about raids and they want to tell the folks a raid is gonna happen, there's nothing I can do about it ...if someone is going to broadcast it over a radio station ...it just means we're going to have to be more clever. 
 But if you consider it, there are few exceptions to free speech: obscenity, child pornography, defamation, breach of the peace, incitement to crime, incitement  to violence" and sedition. The closest exception of course is the incitement of a crime aka "Imminent lawless action." It's only been on the books since 1969 as per Brandenburg v. Ohio. it does not require a clear and present danger, it only requires that the speaker (in this case broadcaster) intends to incite a violation of the law that is both imminent and likely. And KMUD still seems to clear that limbo bar. Inciting non-specific illegal action or even illegal action at a non-specific time don't count.