September 07, 2006

Banning the Cruise in Omaha

"No Cruising" signs are on the table
The cruise is back. I don't mean the grotesque mockery of a family consisting of Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and their Suri with a fringe on top currently clogging the whole world's news. And I'm not talking about the homos looping through Omaha's city parks, checking the men's rooms for toilet queens. The cruise in the news here in Omaha is of the old-fashioned, scoop the loop variety.

City councils have been trying to figure out how to stop young folks from this popular pastime. What teen-ager with a car at his or her disposal wouldn't like to take a ride on a warm summer night. In Omaha, you can either head out of town and cruise the cornfield zone, or drive around one of the popular cruising loops downtown. While the former affords an relatively private opportunity for sexual groping, pot smoking and beer drinking, you have to cruise in town to see and be seen by your peers.

The laws devised by the old, dried-up spoilsports in city governments to restrict cruising are not only reviled by the kids, but are almost universally unconstitutional. This is America, and we like to think we are free to come and go as we please. That doesn't stop the government. Spurred on by businesscats grown tired of all that unprofitable, messy traffic, municipal legislators have invented many schemes to make the youngsters stop having fun. Nobody cares if they pass constitutional muster or not. Maybe the ACLU cares , but...

On Dodge Street there was such a cruising problem about 15 years ago. The solution then was to ticket cars that passed a checkpoint more than three times in a given time period. Clearly unconstitutional, but who is going to take this one to the Supreme Court? I'm a bit obsessive-compulsive. I could have been ticketed for going back to my house repeatedly to make sure the coffeee pot was unplugged!

That is what will likely happen now. Another unconstitutional knee-jerk reaction to kids being kids and parents not being parents. These new Omaha cruisers along north 90th Street between Maple and Fort will have the same feelings of being discriminated against that the kids in Ames, Iowa had when that city passed a law against "being about without purpose during the hours of darkness" back in the 1960's. Then the irrepressible kids will simply find a new place to cruise. And another crappy, ill-conceived, unconstitutional law will sit on the books for what is left of eternity.
I know about the Ames "aimlessness" law because I was busted repeatedly for violating it. Trying to walk off a heartburn or simply getting some night air weren't deemed sufficient purposes.

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