Downtown: The New Police State
Maybe you read this article in the Albuquerque Journal this past Saturday about cops “stepping it up a notch” Downtown. And maybe you had the same reaction we had to it: “Breathalyzers in bars? WTF?” Of course folks are gonna fail breathalyzer tests in a bar. Because they’re in a bar.
Downtown has earned a bad rap this year for a couple of brawls on big bar days like New Year’s and Mardi Gras. The Journal article and Mayor Berry are right in noting that it’s just a few scuzzbags making trouble for the rest of us. But the problem is, it’s the rest of us who suffer, and not the scuzzbags.
As a friend of the Guide (and owner of a Downtown establishment) recently put it: “Who wants to get breathalyzed in a bar? They put this shit in the paper and wonder why no one goes Downtown.”
Fact is, the people who suffer most with publicized “crackdowns” like this are the bar owners. Why would anyone go to the trouble of going Downtown armed with a sober skipper, or on bike, when you can anticipate being hassled first by bouncers, then possibly forced into a breathalyzer? To make matters exponentially worse, if you’re found to be over the limit, it becomes the bartender’s fault for serving you, so now she might lose a job and the bar you’re at might lose their license, and that’ll be your drunk ass’s fault, too. For getting drunk. At a bar.
Obviously blaming the bartender or the establishment is – most of the time – a red herring, and we all know drunks will find ways to get drunk. It is the individual’s responsibility to police his own drinking, and the police’s job to stop him when he commits a crime. But it’s not the bar’s job, nor is it the cops’, to tell responsible adults when they’ve had one too many.
The next obvious question is, where does it go from here? Why not have a scale at the door to weigh people and gauge how many drinks we can handle based on BMI, before we’re legally “intoxicated?” Or an RFID-enabled bracelet that tracks your movement from one bar to the next, so servers know exactly how much you’ve had to drink already? Sure sounds like a fun, low-stress night on the town to us! Maybe they’ll hold off on the cavity searches till we’re good and sloshed already.
We’ve already got plenty of cops Downtown on the weekend anyway; we look like fucking Miami. Might we suggest punishing only bad behavior? Seems it’s that that’s scaring off the responsible folk who aren’t trying to stab, steal or provoke.
Disappearing from Downtown isn’t the solution, unless you want some of the city’s favorite bars to dry up faster than a pair of chones on the clothes line. Instead, let’s flood the bars with reasonable people, who don’t drink to release their anger into a stranger’s chin. Let’s make the idiots stand out even more, and reclaim our drinking holes from douche-nuts all over. Set an upstanding example – then outside, part the waters so Albuquerque’s finest can do their job, and only their job, for the morons, and only the morons, who’re getting in the way of your nonviolent good time.
So, then… who’s going Downtown for St. Paddy’s Day?