The other day I was driving along the 217 toward the balmy UCSB campus and enjoying my usual breakfast of apples and bananas, when I took it upon myself to dispose of the banana peel by chucking it out my car window. To my dismay, I was rolled by the banana police.
The banana officer was part man, part Harley and all business. His two-wheeled citation steed didn’t deter me from believing in the compassion of the Highway Patrol, the members of which are not machines as we all think them to be, but humans who have mistakenly disposed of fruit themselves. By the time I pulled over, I had learned the error of my ways. I apologized profusely, but an apology is not enough in this town – no, criminals must apologize with dollar signs.
The cost of littering on a motorway is a mister misdemeanor costing up to $1000. Chicken feathers and water are the exceptions to this rule, but banana peels are susceptible to such a fine, and rightfully so. Anyone who has played Mario Kart knows that banana peels can mean the demise of your vehicle.
Officer Banana-Moto ironically asked me why I hadn’t checked my rear-view mirror before littering, but all I could do was apologize and ask for forgiveness. Unfortunately, banana tossing is frowned upon around these parts. I got an infraction and an “It’s okay. People make mistakes, Timmy” smile from officer Banana-Moto. The price for this crime: $128.
I am no stranger to the Santa Barbara Superior Court, where Isla Vista residents and other heathens bring their checkbooks – and sometimes their parents – to sort out legal matters. Minor in possession citations, drunk-in-public arrests and other infractions are common to the SB court house, yet there seems to be a trend evolving. Students are paying for their mistakes, while the court laughs all the way to the bank.
Last year, a month before my 21st birthday, I received an MIP which cost me $108 for the ticket and another $140 for Zona Seca, the local youth offender program. A few months later, I was rolled again by a cop in shorts for wearing headphones while riding a bicycle. Total cost: $90. Added with last week’s banana peel incident, I’ve paid the Santa Barbara Superior Court, and others, an estimated $466 for my crimes against humanity.
So, $466 later, I have a newfound hatred for the cops. It’s not that I want to hate the cops. Cops are important and hard-working and individuals. But the cops can’t cut you a fucking a break.
For that reason, the next time I get caught jaywalking or bearing false witness or pissing in my own backyard, I’m not gonna be nice. I’m not gonna open up my checkbook and pay for a lesson I could have learned if they simply scared the shit out of me, like they do in “Super Troopers.” Cops are making sure you leave Santa Barbara quickly, quietly and without dignity.
We can see the influence of intolerant policing in the Daily Nexus’ weekly Police Report. Raggedy Jane got drunk for the first time and puked on herself, so we threw her in the slammer! But wait; if students didn’t get drunk, then we wouldn’t have this problem, right? Well hell, Kool-Aid keg at my house!
Let’s address the problem; let’s give Raggedy Jane a frickin’ ride home. Or let’s throw her in the slammer, without making her pay $248. I’m sure Jane has realized the error in her ways and will puke in a toilet next time.
The judicial system in Santa Barbara is making bank off our propensity to make mistakes. It’s the most basic human characteristic to fuck up now and then – you do it, I do it and cops do it too. If you want compassion for the police department then cut the sheep dip and give a kid a break. Otherwise we’ll have another little revolution like in the ’70s when banks got burned down in I.V. or whatever.
I’ll hold onto my banana peels if you hold onto you citations.
Matt Laine is a senior philosophy major.