When the Charleston City Police Department warned recently that alcohol was forbidden from any tailgating activities prior to the Dave Matthews Band concert on the Fourth of July at The Joe, many fans were not happy and justifiably so. Enjoying a cold beer is as all-American as grilling hot dogs and hamburgers. In fact, having the freedom to raise a bottle in celebration of our country’s most patriotic holiday is something both admirers and drinkers of Samuel Adams should be able to appreciate.
Few believe Charleston City Police Chief Greg Mullen’s decision to announce a crackdown on tailgating was entirely his own, and that such harassment was to take place at Joe Riley Stadium was as symbolic as it was unsurprising. Last month, organizers of the popular Art Walk downtown, where glasses of wine are enjoyed both in the galleries and on the sidewalk, were reminded by police that it was illegal to drink and stroll. Noting the absurdity of such meddling, architectural historian Robert P. Stockton wrote in The Post and Courier, “Charlestonians possibly invented the ‘dressing drink,’ imbibed while preparing to go out, and, perhaps, the ‘toter,’ as well — a drink carried to and from parties. What now? City police have begun checking aesthetes on the Art Walk for ‘toters.’ How un-Charlestonian.”
And how un-American. Targeting law-abiding citizens for relatively harmless and petty indiscretions is particularly offensive when considering the real crime that occurs without penalty on any given day. The late columnist Sam Francis recognized this is as a growing trend he liked to call “anarcho-tyranny.”
As Francis explained, “What we have in this country today, then, is both anarchy (the failure of the state to enforce the laws) and, at the same time, tyranny — the enforcement of laws by the state for oppressive purposes; the criminalization of the law-abiding and innocent.”