All hail Comrade Fenty

More

I am speechless. Where the hell am I living?

Can you say Police State? The Examiner has the scoop on a controversial new program announced today that would create so-called "Neighborhood Safety Zones" which would serve to partially seal off certain parts of the city. D.C. Police would set-up checkpoints in targeted areas, demand to see ID and refuse admittance to people who don't live there, work there or have a “legitimate reason” to be there. Wow. Just, wow.

DCist aptly captures the zeitgeist:

Interim Attorney General Peter Nickles actually said that measures of this sort have "been used in other cities.” Which cities are those, Mr. Nickles? Warsaw?

Let's not forget Fallujah. An update press release says this will only apply to people in cars, which is very slightly less offensive, but also infinitely more pointless.

DC has had a spate of violence recently, and I applaud the police department's urge to do something. However, this something seems to follow the logic outlined by Bryan Caplan:

1. Something must be done
2. This is something
3. Therefore, this must be done

Crime tears the fabric of society, but so does a government which believes that it may at any time control the movements of its citizens like so many (presumptively suspicious) sheep. It's fun to call Rudy Giuliani a crypto-fascist, but he and Bill Bratton managed a stunning drop in violent crime without setting up checkpoints.

I hope that when the police ask for their papers, people will hand them a copy of the Bill of Rights too. It might prove instructive. If not, at least we'll all have the grim pleasure of saying "Here are my civil rights. Please take them."

Jump to comments
Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What's the Number One Thing We Could Do to Improve City Life?

A group of journalists, professors, and non-profit leaders predict the future of livable, walkable cities


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In