Sunday, April 13, 2008

'Footloose' vs. fascism?

Sources inform me that another eyewitness account of the Jefferson Monument dancing arrest will be online after midnight, and I'll update when that's available. (Previous blogging here and here.) (UPDATE: Have just been informed it will take another 24 hours to get the eyewitness account online, since the witness is seeking information from the law enforcement agencies involved.)

Julian Sanchez has a long and thoughtful post about reactions to this incident, including some commenters who resorted to pretzel logic to justify the way the Park Police responded.

Julian dismisses as hysterics those who see the case of the "Jefferson 1" as "one more symptom of the jackboot of the looming police state stamping on the face of humanity." I think he dismisses this concern too lightly. No, we are not teetering on the brink of totalitarianism, but there is a serious issue involved:

The United States is over-policed

Some researcher with more energy and diligence than me will surely be able to produce statistics showing that, since 1990, the number of law-enforcement officials has increased at a rate much higher than the increase of U.S. population. A researcher can prove this statistically, but I know it to be true by direct observation. And I blame Bill Clinton.

Bill Clinton promised in 1992 that he would put 100,000 new police officers on the streets of America. What he didn't tell us was that at least 20,000 of those officers would be assigned to hide beside America's interstate highways in radar-equipped patrol cars, waiting to bust some poor shmuck going 16 mph over the speed limit because he's running late for work. (Direct observation, I said.)

The experience of the Ipod-wearing dancers at the Jefferson Memorial is just another example. The photo posted by Radley Balko shows at least three officers in the immediate vicinity of the arrest. How many others were on the premises of the Memorial? Too many, however many it was.

For crying out loud, it was midnight. A two-man team of security guards should be enough, right? It's a lot easier to overreact if you've got a whole squad of cops on the job.

1 comment:

  1. I think libertarians just don't like the exercise of police authority, even in this case, but to be honest Obama's "Bittergate" controversy more interesting...