Sunday, April 16, 2006

"Busting Barflies in Bars only the Beginning?"

By Garry Reed

The Loose Cannon Libertarian

Compiled from three NBC 5 news reports, Dallas:

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission undercover agents entered 36 nightclubs where they shared tables with suspected drunks and covertly monitored bartenders for over-serving patrons. After agents determined that some individuals posed a risk to themselves or the public, 30 people were arrested for public intoxication. Sgt. Chris Hamilton of the TABC justified the preemptive strikes by noting that some inebriated bar patrons "end up killing themselves or someone else" in drunk driving accidents. Some hotel bar patrons were staying at the hotel, but having a room is no defense for public intoxication. As criminal defense attorney Barry Sorrels explained to Channel 5 News, the key to the law lies in the potential danger. TABC officials said the sweep concerned saving lives, not individual rights.

Future news stories to be watching for:

A crack team of undercover Center for Disease Control operatives apprehended 57 allegedly overweight men, women and children consuming suspected high-calorie junk food in the food court of a Washington DC area shopping mall. "It's necessary to stop suspected obese people from gaining additional weight before they become a risk to themselves or the public," explained a department spokescrat while justifying the preemptive operation. "Just because people don't intend to get Heart disease, high blood pressure or strokes is no excuse for public obesity." Also, under America's de facto system of socialized medicine, all taxpayers suffer from other people's obesity. Another potential danger identified by anti-corpulence activists is that public obesity "sets a bad example for The Children, which justifies all regulation." A teenage fast food worker was also arrested for over-serving corny dogs to observedly portly patrons. "We're here to protect lives, not rights," the spokescrat concluded with smug self-importance.

In Seattle, the city's newly formed Decaffeination Task Force made its first arrest as seven covert operatives tackled a young woman dressed in a business suit, wrestled her to the ground and handcuffed her in a busy downtown Springbok's Upscale Coffee Salon. "We got her just in time!" one operative crowed proudly. "She was clearly over-caffeinated. She could have bitten someone's head off if she had made it to the street." The squad's leader explained that his officers, dressed as young, hip urbanites, had been staking out the establishment when one officer observed the unidentified suspect purchasing a triple triple chocolate latte with extra foam. "This is a perfect example where public safety trumps individual rights," the department's commander asserted. "We have to be proactive. Otherwise, good young socially conscious whale-savers could turn into caffeine freaks and run amok in their offices, hurting the feelings of their coworkers and embarrassing all young liberals in general."

In a much less fashionable but still self-satisfying stealth police action, a secret agent for the Davenport, Iowa, animal control agency cited an unidentified dog-walker and took his giant Belgian wirehaired schnauzer into custody. "Oh, sure, he was legally walking the canine in question on a leash," Officer Doggonette explained, "but in my personal opinion as an experienced animal control officer, the leash just didn't look adequate for the purpose of public restraint." The city dog pound backed up the officer's unilateral action, explaining that the animal could have broken loose or jerked the tether from the owner's hand and then run about barking, awakening nightshift workers who sleep during the day, or even nipping at or otherwise frightening children. "This is a good example of our 'Anticipated Crime' law," the pound decreed, "which was passed recently by the city council specifically to protect The Children."

Libertarians and others concerned with civil rights have long debated whether "shouting fire in a crowded theater" should be protected speech under the First Amendment. Armed agents of New York City's clandestine Arts and Culture Corps are making the point moot. "We have to prevent it," a squad leader stated doggedly. The little-known unit has been secretly infiltrating agents armed with state-of-the-art listening devices into any venue that falls under the definition of "theater." Hours of surveillance finally paid off last Saturday night in Carnage Hall when a corporate CEO was allegedly heard to utter, "I may have to fire my assistant." He was tactfully arrested and taken away in handcuffs. "He didn't holler fire," a department PR flack conceded, "but someone might have misinterpreted what he said and panicked."

A member of the Writer's Prior Restraint Strike Force, threatening to arrest anyone who revealed his identity, said, "What could be more ego-fulfilling than getting paid to legally harass people?"

(Garry Reed is a freelance writer living in Ft. Worth, Texas. His articles have appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Jefferson Review and LP News Online.)

If the TABC tried that in our city centre on a Friday or Saturday night they'd have to hire a warehouse or two to hold everyone! Mind you, with the smoking bans due to be put into force (or already in force in some parts of the UK and Ireland), it may only be a matter of time.....

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