Examining bar raids

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When the Isthmus has an article about bar raids in student areas, you can bet that the Critical Badger is going to pick it up and run with it as far as possible. The CB, who’s made underage drinking a pet issue of his blog, criticizes police officers with a level of disdain even I would shy away from.

I always wonder if somewhere in some small Wisconsin town, an aging couple hangs a photo of their son who chose a noble cause in life, working to serve and protect, eyes swelling with pride as they recount some of their son’s heroic duties in the line of action.

“Some officers stop hardened criminals and career crooks, maybe trade bullets with gangsters every now and then after the occasional drug bust. My son? He really puts the clamp down on those rowdy, up to no good 20 year old students drinkin’ beer.”

Must be really proud.

Of course, the irony of the CB’s post is that, in demonstrating the worthlessness of cops who enforce drinking laws, he cites drug busts as the work of “noble police officers.” As much as I hate alcohol enforcement, its futility pales in comparison to the havoc wrought by the war on drugs.

Nevertheless, it’s good to hear so many city officials and community leaders criticizing the cops’ bar raids. No longer is the critique that the raids “push under-agers into unregulated house parties,” which I’ve always thought was somewhat of a weak criticism unless you’re going to advocate lowering the drinking age (which I do). Now people are making convincing arguments against the system because of the animosity it breeds between the police and the student community. That is the most important point in the broad context of law enforcement in America. For decades the police have had a contentious relationship with young people, which of course seeps into older generations. Talk to many-a-baby boomer about the police and you’ll get accounts of “pigs beating protesters” and pot smokers getting sent to jail.

The War on Drugs and the 21 drinking age does more than anything to instill resentment for the police in the American youth. People who would otherwise be law-abiding and law enforcement loving kids are criminalized because they engage in standard social life. The paranoia is rampant. I remember one of my friends being incredulous that I would carry a case of beer in broad daylight. Just last week a 20 year old friend who was leaving my apartment with a six pack asked for a bag to carry it in, worried that a passing cop might stop him and ask for his ID. Such a situation is extremely unlikely to happen and probably unconstitutional, nevertheless, that is still the mentality that many college kids have.

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4 Responses to “Examining bar raids”

  1. Guest Says:

    “Just last week a 20 year old friend who was leaving my apartment with a six pack asked for a bag to carry it in, worried that a passing cop might stop him and ask for his ID. Such a situation is extremely unlikely to happen and probably unconstitutional, nevertheless, that is still the mentality that many college kids have.”

    What is the argument here? That the kid was trying to find a way to cover up breaking the law? That he “had to break the law, in order to fulfill his personal choices?”

    Most people do not hate the police. Granted, we all know a hometown police officer who was a bully in high school and loves the power, but for the most part police officers are fine people, doing their job to keep us safe. I think it gets glossed over that people don’t generally interact with police officers in pleasant situations. You talk to an officer when you’ve sped, when you’ve run a light, when you have been caught carrying alcohol as a 20-year old. I think that is where the “resentment” comes from. For the most part, they leave you alone, EXCEPT when you break the law.

    As far as kids being criminalized for engaging in standard social behavior, this screams for the argument “just because everyone does it does not make it right.” I realize you can say, “well if everyone is doing it, why not just make it legal?” but minus the college student machismo, “no-way-bad-stuff-will-happen-to-me” attitude, I think most laws are in place to protect people, perhaps even from themselves. Sure they aren’t perfect, but I don’t think they are handed down by a Big Brother government hell-bent on limiting your lifestyle.

    I think the bar raids are a touchy subject, to which I have no coherent answer. On the one hand, I completely get the police mentality that “if you’re 21, you have nothing to worry about, we are just making sure the bar is following the law.” I have been in the bar many times when cops walk through, and I don’t feel any animosity towards them. They ask for my ID about 1 in 10 times, I show them, they check it, 15 seconds later I am back to enjoying my Blatz.

    On the other hand, I realize this can (and already has) force students to parties, creating dangerous situations. Students are going to drink. No law will stop that. However, I think that the lowering the drinking age will only cram the bars and create more alcohol-related problems. I think instead of bar raids, why not issue (or mandate, or find grants for) ID checking technology to each bar, and thus they can limit the entrance of underage drinkers.

    Overall, I think lowering the drinking age would not be wise. Students are only in college for 2-3 years before they are 21 and they will find ways to drink. After that, it no longer matters. Since 1983, people have dealt with not being able to drink until they were 21. We can do it to.

  2. Downtown Alcohol Issues « Bryon Eagon's Blog Says:

    […] on the semantics used by police or students), including the Isthmus, the Critical Badger, and the Sconz to name a […]

  3. Critical Badger Says:

    I think you need a crash course in reading irony and sarcasm from my italics, dude, especially in an intentionally made up quote. I seldom comment on old posts (or comment in general) but you really misrepresented me here by not giving more context when you wrote about me citing something. Go re-read my entire post.

  4. The Sconz Says:

    Sorry, I should have included the quote. Then I don’t think you would have thought I misrepresented what you said.

    But I don’t think I read it too differently than somebody else would. I know it was a made up quote and I know it was sarcastic – I simply pointed out that in making fun of one type of prohibition agent, you cite another one whose work is equally useless.

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