Under the dictionary heading short-sighted (if insulting and lazy were already taken), I expect to find a reference to this plot. I doubt there's a single worse example in all of trek, of contemporary sociopolitical entities shamelessly shoving aside any semblance of intelligent, thoughtful consideration of the trek universe or the future. This is the richness of trek, pimped out heartlessly to the cheapest, most temporary of all things, a brief few years of regional pop culture.
Not that ST is in any way free this the rest of the time. The entire series explores the great galaxy of the unknown and diverse, and by that I mean the great galaxy of all things essentially familiar to 1960's America, with alien names. Every few episodes the enterprise 'against astronomical odds' runs into a culture, what do you know, again exactly like earth inhabited by attractive fair-skinned human look-alikes. Of course we can't crucify it for that, it definitely made new strides in a revolutionary direction and I'm sure every other show of the era was 100 times more culturo-centric than trek.
But onto the matter at hand. Brutal, shameless selling out in this episode. Hippies? I can't tell whether the episode is trying to give a moral lesson in support of their worldview or just use them because it was a familiar cultural device. ST is no stranger to the classic 'establishment vs not-the-establishment' story, but in those cases the rebel/whatever groups at least had some conceivable point or plausible goal. This group of clowns appear to be culturally contrarian simply for its own sake. Their goal is getting to Eden, but not only is it a random, meaningless and unexplained goal disconnected from anything else in ST, it also has not the slightest analogy to the real life hippies of the time. I'm thinking the conversation went like this:
Writer 1: Hey you know hippies are kind of a thing now hey?
Writer 2: You're right. ok let's put them into an episode, we'll get the kids watchin!
Writer 1: Good point, well what do hippies do?
Writer 2: They sit around and wear flowers.
Writer 1: Ya but I mean for the show - what is there actual goal?
Writer 2: No idea, but we better give them something.
Writer 1: To the writing room!
Writer 2: You mean that room where you keep all the previous sci-fi scripts and your xerox machine?
Writer 1: Quit bothering me, I'm working here.
Or something along those lines. With no appreciation of what the hippie movement stood for, the hippies were given a random goal with no bearing on their real-life counterparts. Not that those guys did anything meaningful either, but still. That same goal could have (and has) been better used by Alien Of The Week and thereby had a reasonable chance of making sense or at least existing in some reasonable way within the trek universe. Spock playing with them was goofy, and when he actually starts grooving his head to the beat, you just feel sorry for the guys who wanted to, you know, actually keep a real show going instead of this pathetic dunce-fest.
In reality I really enjoy trek and most of the episodes, and I'm comforted by the one transcendent and universal truth that trek conveyed beyond all others - that in a time of turmoil it reminded us that no matter what size, creed, color, form, home planet or value-system someone can hold, females will always have nice legs and wear 60's miniskirts.