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Why are federal prosecutors going after Julian Heicklen, a 79-year-old retired chemistry professor, for speaking his mind? The indicted Heicklen is hardly your run-of-the-mill threat to society and all he has done is speak and write about a cause in which he believes. Surely there must be more to this story — and there is.

For reasons not completely clear, Heicklen has led a one-man campaign to stand outside 500 Pearl St., the address of one of the busiest and highest-profile federal trial courts in America: the Southern District of New York. In that venue individuals of all stripes stand indicted and await trial. They range from white-collar criminals to celebrated Mafiosi to petty drug violators. Heicklen is apparently a drug and gambling law abolitionist. He believes in murder laws, however, and is a “big law and order guy when it comes to real crime.” But in Heicklen’s world, the definition of a “real” crime is no less subjective than morality.

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