Cops Don’t Keep Festivals Clean: Hard Proof From Australia

Via The Village Voice

Via The Village Voice

I was sent this paper by a professor at NYU who I hold in the highest regard. While local authorities all around the world continue to argue about the best way to “secure” festivals, from crime and medical harm, the Aussies have done some real work. Published in this month’s International Journal of Drug Policy, Caitlin Elizabeth Hughes, Vivienne Moxham-Halla, Alison Rittera, Don Weatherburnb, Robert MacCounc of the National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney have made a fascinating discovery. One that, while novel, will seem obvious immediately once you understand what they proved. The core assumption they sought to evaluate the validity of seems almost common sense, yet has been at the core of the West’s strategy : Police can deter, discourage or prevent drug offending/consumption. Given that we’ve already spent $1.2 Billion in 2017 already to police and prohibit, you’d hope that the core tenet of “Police presence reduces drug offense” would be bullet-proof.

Over 4000 people took part in a Drug Policing Survey over a 5 month period. This survey asked takers (who had self-identified as regular festival/club attendees who consumed recreational drugs or had friends who did) to evaluate how certain types of police presence at clubs and festivals would cause them to change their drug taking tactics. As opposed to treating party people as some skittish, crack-addicted group that couldn’t be reasoned with, Dr. Hughes & her team depended on the festival/club attendees to evaluate scenarios where evading law enforcement was the goal. This might seem a little subversive to Americans, but even in cybersecurity, probing weaknesses using data from blackhats is worth its weight in gold. And this study was no exception.

Five different experimental vignettes were presented to the surveytakers. They were hypothetical scenarios that included an assortment of policing strategies: High Visibility Policing, Riot Policing, Collaborative Policing & Policing with Drug Detection Dogs, and a control scenario (No police presence). Essentially, how would your drug consumption or purchasing change if one of these police presence schema was used at the club or festival you attended. While any police presence led to a 4.6% reduction in overall illicit drug offending, it led to merely a reduction in people willing to carry drugs into an event or carry them on their person. Which makes sense. Ask any party person you know, they’ll probably regale you with tales of very minor substance use inside the club, maybe a few key bumps or lines in the bathroom. Very few people have the cajones to bring drugs into festivals or clubs that have big time security. They just assume they’ll purchase whatever they need inside the venue. And that’s exactly what the researchers found.

Via The Village Voice

Via The Village Voice

Given police presence, purchasing of drugs increased significantly within festival grounds. High Visibility Policing reduced overall drug offending, while Drug Detection dogs reduced drug possession the most, which makes sense. If you can see cops everywhere, you’re less likely to engage in risky shit. However, if you see drug dogs, you’re more likely to not carry, especially into the festival. And here’s the kicker. While you’re less likely to carry, you’re much more likely to buy and consume at the event.

This leads to all sorts of terrible shit, as people don’t test drugs they buy to consume immediately. Moreover, when you buy drugs from a dealer you’re likely to never have contact with again, because you’re not a regular customer, it’s that much more likely they’re going to sell you some bunk. If you’re a regular reader, you can probably guess why this concerns me. The idea that policing is not only ineffective, but also increasing the chance that drug consumers are going to take untested, is a significant departure from the “police just send drug use underground” talking point that we’ve been dealing with for years.

The truth is way more complicated of course. People do drugs in the safest way they’re able, exposing themselves to as little liability as they can while still achieving their ends. If that means buying LSD and taking it while they’re standing in line, they do that. If they prefer a drug that’s got a shorter duration, like MDMA or cocaine, some might be down to bring drugs in, but most are not willing to take that risk. That leads to the massive market opportunity that drug dealers at festivals & clubs exploit. This is simple market economics that most prohibitionists are unwilling to admit. Dealers, like life in Jurassic Park, find a way. Neatly tethered to the events of BPM, criminals will always find a way to ensure they profit from market demand. And in this case, our insatiable demand for drugs can’t even be stopped by the “North Korea with neon lighting” levels of policing that events like Electric Zoo have put forth. High definition cameras to capture buys, drug dogs and high visibility severe response policing can put a damper on drug possession or even perhaps trafficking into the event, but these types of enforcement mechanisms can’t stop consumption.

If anyone believes these findings don’t apply to the USA, I’d love to hear your reasoning. This is the type of bipartisan, public-health focused research that I think we should be relying on. As we’ve seen over the last month, attempting to appeal to morality, ethics, or some form of value system will fail and fail hard during the reign of Orange Xerxes. The only chance we have at winning is to force the conversation entirely into data and effects of current policies on the ground. A study like this is something that police, “family first” organizations and even straight up anti-drug advocates have a hard time responding to. It allows us to move the conversation from “What should America be like?” to “What actually works?” By doing so, you neatly remove the “People shouldn’t be doing drugs!” talking point from the repertoire of the advocate you’re debating with. Even if you believe people shouldn’t be doing drugs, you can’t ignore the fact that the policing schemes that are discussed in the study simply don’t work to achieve those ends.

There will always be people whose cognitive dissonance is so large that this will fall on deaf ears. But, for those who are willing to listen, discussing this study might just be a step in the door with your cop uncle or Catholic cousin. We need all the help we can get, so tread softly, avoid people who steal your bandwidth, and find consensus wherever you can. 2017 demands it.

 

Burning Man Punked Itself

Screenshot 2016-08-31 14.38.57

It seems the upside down, headless Man – first spotted by yours truly on our Facebook page in the wee hours of Monday morning…

Screenshot 2016-08-29 02.57.09

… was not intentional. But it was news-worthy, for USA Today at least.

Image: Andy Barron, Reno Gazette-Journal

Image: Andy Barron, Reno Gazette-Journal

 

Jenny Kane reports that Burning Man wasn’t quite ready for opening, people were still working on the workshop and not in the workshop:

The main attraction at Burning Man is stuck — upside-down…

Crews raised the man above the Renaissance-style piazza Sunday but discovered that the gear designed to rotate the man like a Ferris wheel was broken. He still is without a wooden head as well.

The “man” site, including the piazza, is planned to open Tuesday morning since crews are expected to work through the night on a project.

Usually the man is hoisted upright by Sunday, the opening day of the event, but various large-scale projects on the playa have been delayed and are behind after sporadic dust storms and rainfall before the event. The Catacomb of Veils and the Temple also have yet to open.

The “man” is expected to burn Sept. 3, and the temple is set to burn Sept. 4. Other art installations will burn throughout the week beginning as early as Thursday night.

Check out their whole story which has 6 dozen photos from the Playa. Or, check out my screenshots from the video feed, below.

Is this a message from DPW, that Burning Man is now turned upside down with its head up its ass in the sand? Or is it the same message..but from the Rulers, showing us what the event will be like once they all leave for the retirement village hot springs?

Anyway, I thought the whole point was that people would push something and rotate The Man. Another Burning Man dream that fizzled? Or just “coming soon”?


The hilarious Burning Man hate week is back:

When do you think we should tell ‘em this isn’t the hot springs but rather the security guard’s latrine? #nolifeguardondoodie #burningmanhateweek #burningman #blackrockcity #burningman2016 #brc #blackrockhotsprings

burning man mad libs

They’re now on Instagram too: @burningmanhateweek

 


In other good news, Paris Hilton has lost her Burginity:

 

I believe I can fly…✨🌠✨ #BurningMan

A post shared by Paris Hilton (@parishilton) on

Taking off to #BurningMan 🚀 #LetsDoThis 🔥 #DragonflyDen

A post shared by Paris Hilton (@parishilton) on

#GoodTimes at #BurningMan with @BarronHilton @PoppyDelevingne & @CaraDelevingne. 🎶👫👭🎶 #Siblings ❤️

A post shared by Paris Hilton (@parishilton) on

 

America’s Next Top Model winner Adrianne Curry is staying well away from the smelly and salty event:

adrianne curry burning man


I’ve had the live stream on in the background most of the day. The Man was fine from this morning. It looks like The Temple is open now. Not sure yet about The Piazza, the Workshops of “Da Vinci’s workshop”.

Realism seems to be the order of the day. Whale, gorilla, bear, boar, bull, pyramids, 747, @, #  – all look a lot like larger-than-life imitations of their real-world inspiration.

Australia has a lot of this sort of stuff, Big Banana, Big Sheep, etc. The tourists love it, it’s great for Instagram.

5590932-Big_Banana-0BigMerinoGoulburnbig koalaBig_Prawn_Ballina

[For those who’ve been to Byron Bay, the Big Prawn in a Ballina gas station was saved by a Big Box hardware store, who bought the site and built around the prawn]big prawn bunnings

Perhaps we will see all these “Big Things of Burning Man” trotted out each year now, providing a comforting familiarity like Disneyland and Las Vegas. They can mix it up a bit; maybe one year the 747 has a wing, maybe one year they bring part of the tail section. With enough fundraising from the community, we may even get to see a wheel or an inflatable slide…or a coat of paint.

aboriginal747

Plug-n-Play looks amazing, the Space Whale looks amazing at night. I’m sure it’s incredible up close too. I like the Converse art car, and Icarus.

For every mutant vehicle you see driving around, you see 3-4 non-mutant ones. Vans, trucks, driving all over the Playa. I would say 70-80% of the non-mutant vehicles are speeding.

The Magical Realism certainly applies to the HD video feed as well.

Kudos to @motorbikematt for a major upgrade on what we’ve previously had. GoPro exceeding the capabilities of NASA and JPL?  The resolution, stability, panning speed, and zoom have all greatly improved from last year. I am watching via YouTube and a 4 year old iMac, and I can clearly identify people and read signs. I bet they could read license plates if they want. If this is what us in the public get to see on YouTube, I can only imagine what Google, DARPA and the Sheriffs are looking at, combining drones, low and high orbit satellites, radar, infrared, geospatial and electromagnetic intelligence…I bet they know where all the Pokemons are

Screenshot 2016-08-31 14.34.43Screenshot 2016-08-31 14.34.10Screenshot 2016-08-31 11.41.27 Screenshot 2016-08-31 10.18.04 Screenshot 2016-08-31 10.25.37 Screenshot 2016-08-31 10.25.09 Screenshot 2016-08-31 10.18.52 Screenshot 2016-08-31 11.46.29Screenshot 2016-08-31 11.58.26Screenshot 2016-08-31 14.40.19 Screenshot 2016-08-31 14.39.48 Screenshot 2016-08-31 14.38.27 Screenshot 2016-08-31 14.38.04 Screenshot 2016-08-31 14.37.32 Screenshot 2016-08-31 14.37.11 Screenshot 2016-08-31 14.36.52 Screenshot 2016-08-31 14.36.07 Screenshot 2016-08-31 14.35.49 Screenshot 2016-08-31 14.33.48 Screenshot 2016-08-31 14.32.15

Here’s some Playa video from Mark Day:

We’ll let artist Otto von Danger have the last word:

otto von danger