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Mr Bunny Overturns US Glow-Stick Ban

Saturday, August 25, 2001
A Federal Judge has blocked the recent US ban on glow sticks in clubs, following an appeal by a clubber who goes out raving dressed in a rabbit outfit. Insurance salesman Michael Behan, aka Mr Bunny, brought his case after being refused entry to the State Palace Theatre on August 4th after being found in possession of a hand-held massager. He was backed by America's most influential civil rights organisation the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) who challenged the terms of the recent New Orleans plea bargain agreed by managers of the State Palace Theatre, which had defined glow sticks, and even vapour rub as 'drug paraphernalia'.

"It is nonsensical to think that glow sticks and masks can be used to ingest drugs, which is how the law defines paraphernalia," said Graham Boyd, director of the ACLU's Drug Policy Litigation Project, speaking before the appeal. "It is time the American public realized that raves are not at all the havens for rampant drug use that the government has led them to believe and are in fact part of an established form of youth culture."

Also involved in the case was a US stunt pilot who had his glow sticks and pacifier (dummy) removed at the club as well as Stephen McClure from top US dance act Rabbit In The Moon. The band were threatened with being banned from the theatre unless they changed their stage act, which involves dancers wearing glow necklaces.

Mr Boyd suggested the recent DEA attempts to label clubs as a new type of crack house, represented a 'coordinated attempt (by US authorities) to eliminate rave culture'.

"The government's ban on cultural symbols does nothing to prevent drug use, while striking at the heart of First Amendment freedoms," he said. "If the police want to enforce drug laws, then they should go after drug dealers, but dancing and music are protected by the Constitution."

District Judge Thomas Porteous issued a temporary restraining order, which means clubs cannot be prosecuted for allowing their clubbers to carry glowsticks. The situation could still change, however, depending on the outcome of future court hearings involving dance clubs.
Jonty Adderley