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Tragedy and Farce, Together at Last

On July 6, 2011, in Drug War, federal, states, by John Payne

Marx famously wrote that history repeats, “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” What he could not envision is that we would reach a point where it would no longer be necessary to wait for the farcical elements of a tragedy to emerge. But in this day of instant communication, we don’t have time to wait for these absurdities, so we stack them right on top of each other.

For instance, in Fort Smith, Arkansas, the police department is using asset forfeiture dollars to buy AR-15s and–wait for it–Segways:

The Segways would cost approximately $44,000 and the rifles could cost more than $100,000, but taxpayers won’t foot the bill, officials said. The payment will come from what’s called the Federal Asset Forfeiture Fund. It’s money that’s seized in federal cases such as drug raids.

Fort Smith Police Sgt. Daniel Grubbs said the Segways could be used for meter enforcement and special events like the air show.

“Segways get the officer higher off the ground than foot patrol or bike patrol, we think it could give the officer a better perspective of the crowd,” Grubbs said.

It will also destroy whatever esteem that crowd has for the officer, but I suppose that’s the department’s within the department’s prerogative.

However, Grubbs is just making stuff up when he claims that the new assault rifles are necessary because “[s]ociety is getting more violent…” The rate of violent crime in this country has dropped dramatically since the early 1990s, and Americans are now as safe from crime as we were in 1973. So why do we need to militarize the police with frequently ill-gotten forfeiture dollars again?

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