The Trial of the Chicago 7: Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin Were the Martin and Lewis of the Radical Left


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Hoffman’s contribution to political literature was a guidebook on living free, and the first step was to take the title literally: Steal This Book. By the time Hoffman resurfaced from his years underground as a drug dealing charged fugitive, he expressed his primary concern, and that of many caught up in the insane no-tolerance drug policies of the time, with the book Steal This Urine Test. It didn’t suggest dumping them in the holy water. It waged guerilla warfare on the War on Drugs.

Hoffman was a born outlaw, a duck-tailed, leather jacketed teen rebel looking for a cause. Born Nov. 30, 1936 in Worcester, Massachusetts, he was expelled from Classical High School when a paper he wrote concluded God could not possibly exist, prompting his teacher to call him a Communist punk. Hoffman proved it by jumping the teacher.

Rubin was born July 14, 1938 in Cincinnati. His father was a union organizer. Rubin was one of the leaders of the 1967 anti-war march on the Pentagon. After the heyday of the protest movement, Rubin moved from radical politics to freeing the mind with human potential, although it wasn’t free of charge.

Rubin was a burgeoning businessman, but was also an outlaw at heart. He even died breaking a law. One of the most basic laws almost everyone, regardless of class, color, or creed, thinks nothing of breaking. Rubin died of a heart attack two weeks after being hit by a car while jaywalking. The implications seem almost surreal, but the Yippie movement was filled with ridiculous ways to challenge legal authority.

Well before Rubin’s death in the ‘90s, he was there with Hoffman on Aug. 24, 1967, tossing fistfuls of dollars, real and fake, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to protest capitalism. Traders went crazy grabbing at the cash. The NYSE built a wall to stop the unfettered financial fun. The Youth International Party nominated Pigasus, a pig, as its candidate for president in the 1968 election campaign.

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