Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Selective Enforcement in Iowa City

Selective Law Enforcement in Downtown Iowa City

The Iowa City council and cops are at it again. Just a week after targeting Mike Porter for fire safety when the stairway is already in the process of being fixed, they haul Leah Cohen's license in front of the council for failing a sting operation that involved two 20 year old adults sneaking past the BoJames bouncer.

What do these two have in common? Their leadership in the No on 21 campaign in the fall of 2007. The council was counting on Rick Dobyns and the do-gooders to do the dirty work for them and pass the 21 only ordinance, but Porter and Cohen bankrolled the Student Health Initiative Taskforce (I still love that name) that actually got the students out to vote in a city election. And the two have been on the cop's S.H.I.T. list ever since.

You can insert my standard rant here. Short version: when you're 18 you're an adult. I'm not arguing for a form of civic disobedience here. The law is the law, even if it's a really, really bad law, and there's too much dark history of standing in the schoolhouse door for me to argue for that level of defiance. (However, if I were on the council, I'd have no problem funding the enforcement of that really, really bad law at zero.)

But the police have some choices here. If a 19 year old is peeing in the alley with a beer in his hand, then the principle of sheer stupidity argues he should get busted.

On the other hand, deliberately sending a pair of 20 year old adults into a specific bar, known to be owned by a political opponent of the police agenda, with marching orders to sneak around the bouncer? That's deliberate and needs to stop. Meanwhile, council, the legislature's in session, and I'm not seeing any of you up in Des Moines arguing for realistic alcohol and drug laws.

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