Tiki opening confused with Tiananmen

Friday, April 25, 2008

Thanks in no small part to the cooperation of Mother Nature, who provided us with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-80s, the Tiki Bar opening was great fun.

Unfortunately, however, this otherwise enjoyable experience was clouded with the acrid stench of the state as it hovered amongst thousands of peaceful partyers.

Crowds of such magnitude obviously demand some security, which was capably provided by Tiki Bar staff.

Traffic cops are warranted in the event that navigation routes need to be altered, and it’s not necessarily out of the question for public roads to be patrolled by public servants — to the extent that one happens to agree with these types of taxpayer-provided services.

But whereas in years past the police presence during Tiki opening was more or less proportionate to the potential for harm that could be expected from random drunks, today it’s virtually impossible to deny that ‘‘overkill” has become the default setting.

Apparently today’s standard operating procedure is to supplement private security with local, state, and federal law enforcement agents by both land and sea — when only a few years ago this policing was carried out by sheriff’s deputies and state troopers, most of whom patrolled Solomons on foot and bicycle.

How has this come to pass, you ask? Regrettably, our misguided ‘‘war on terror” has morphed into an excuse for the feds and states to militarize even the smallest and least violent cities and towns across the country.

Clearly, Solomons Island is no exception as beat cops were accompanied by combat boot-wearing Special Operations Team units, armored trucks and a ‘‘special ops” gunboat — the latter commandeering private dockage for the event.

If the rationale for state and federal funding of these resources for police departments is to protect against prospective terrorist attacks, is it too much to ask that we restrict their use to defense against — oh, I don’t know — actual invaders? Instead, the government is apparently content to practice on the rest of us in the meantime.

All of this illustrates the insufferable evil that is the ever-encroaching state, as nothing more clearly exemplifies how far we’ve drifted from the proper role of these types of ‘‘emergency services teams” — that is to say, defending against fugitives, hostage situations, or otherwise imminent threats to the community — than the pre-emptive placement of military-type machinery amongst ordinary folks.

These intimidation tactics are a pitiful display of arrogance, unnecessary force and unilateral violence — to say nothing of the waste of taxpayer resources — more suitable to the Soviet Union and North Korea than an ostensibly ‘‘free” country like the United States.

When I confronted a Calvert County deputy during the opening and objected to the presence of these militarized units, he explained that they were on hand ‘‘just in case,” and that it’s ‘‘better to be safe than sorry.”

The question that must really be asked is, ‘‘Safe from whom?”

Trevor Bothwell, Dowell