Should they regulate bar crawls?
A couple weeks after 25-year-old Michael Kooser was stabbed in the back by a stranger during a South Baltimore bar crawl, the community is astir, and rightfully so.
Dude got stabbed in his back, and lost half his blood. Thank God he lived.
The incident sparked a heated debate about who should be held responsible, and what could be done to prevent it from happening again.
Something needs to be done. Everyone -- from business owners to neighborhood association leaders -- seems to agree on that. But what should they do? ...
Should they require permits for large-scale bar crawls? Should pubs hosting bar crawls notify the proper authorities weeks ahead of time? Should they be banned outright?
Crime reporter and blogger Peter Hermann examined the issue with this piece in today's paper. He spoke with folks on all sides of the issue, and cited a Rhode Island case where a student was killed by a bus in 2004 during a pub crawl. What did lawmakers do up there? They banned pub crawls.
The measure that finally passed - and took effect in July 2009, without the governor's signature - prohibits licensed liquor establishments from knowingly participating in a pub crawl, according to a spokesman for the state Senate.
Before the bill's passage, The Providence Journal reported, debate focused on how bartenders could distinguish between an organized event and a group roaming from bar to bar.
Yeah. Good luck with that, Rhode Island.
I haven't been out drinking with a large group of people in New England since this ban was passed, but I'm willing to bet pub crawls still happen up there. Just a guess.
Outlawing something is almost always a bad idea, unless you're banning some kind of medicine that was supposed to help people but actually ends up killing them.
Requiring permits for pub crawls is also a little silly, unless they're blowouts like the one Lindy Promo threw last weekend.
But Lindy hired off-duty police officers, porta-johns and paid to have the mess cleaned up afterward. Sounds like Lindy's got it covered.
It's the medium-sized pub crawls, like the one where Kooser was stabbed, that have the potential to be powder kegs.
If there is a large group of rowdy, drunken pub crawlers stumbling across Fort Avenue, there are three responsible parties:
1) The pub crawlers, who shouldn't drink so much they act immature and dangerously and put others (and themselves) at risk.
2) The bars, who shouldn't sell the pub crawlers drinks after they were already too drunk.
3) The neighborhood residents, who should call the police and tell them about the rowdy pub crawlers who, often, are carrying open containers. If four or five people call the police at once complaining about this, the police are going to break up the party.
I know the way our government works, and trust me, we're not going to legislate our way out of this problem.
All of the above mentioned parties need to take responsibility. The only way this is going to get better is if change comes from the ground up -- not the top down.
(Baltimore Sun photos by Kim Hairston. Top, Paul Rodriguez, 25, Baltimore, gives thumbs up as he enjoys an early start to his St. Patrick's Day celebrations at No Idea Tavern in Federal Hill. Bottom, a poster advertising a South Baltimore pub crawl)