Entrapment, American Style

In the usual "soccer parent" rush I quickly ran into the local convenience store to pick up a couple of bottles of water before our oldest daughter, Sarah’s, senior soccer game and award ceremony.  My attention was suddenly drawn to the young man in front of me as he asked for a pack of cigarettes.

I didn’t find this unusual until the cashier asked for his driver’s license and then replied, “Sorry you are too young to buy cigarettes.” Then suddenly, a short guy with a crew cut standing directly behind the boy puffed his chest out, held up a badge and stated in a loud voice to show his authority, “I’m with the u2018blankety-blankty' government enforcement division. Ma’am, you did the right thing.”

I was directly beside him making my purchase with the next cashier and without thinking I said far too loudly, “What a police-state we live in. Does it give you a lot of job satisfaction to use underage kids to entrap and harass minimum-wage store clerks for a living?” As soon as I said it, I knew I’d made a mistake as he was a law enforcement official of some type and my current drivers license expired back on May 15, 1999.  The entire convenience store turned quiet as everyone looked on and the petty bureaucrat in his harshest tone warned, “You’d better mind your business, buddy.”

At this point I was already late for the game and there was no way I was going to win this argument, so I quickly left as he followed me out the door and got into the car, even put on my seat belt, and drove off.

Entrapment by federal and state officials takes place hundreds of times every day across our great nation but this is the first time I’ve seen it happen in person and it was disgusting. Hundreds of Americans are entrapped into breaking the law regarding victimless crimes from cigarettes, to alcohol, to marijuana, to prostitution by law enforcement officials.  If we are going to have crazy laws, there is nothing we can do about it, but this kind of entrapment is more appropriate for a police state than our nation and it is morally wrong.

Cicero was right when he said, “A bureaucrat is the most despicable of men, though he is needed as vultures are needed, but one hardly admires vultures whom bureaucrats so strangely resemble.I have yet to meet a bureaucrat who was not petty, dull, almost witless, crafty or stupid, an oppressor or a thief, a holder of little authority in which he delights, as a boy delights in possessing a vicious dog.Who can trust such creatures?”

May 12, 2003