It's Southern inhospitality

One more black eye for Augusta, as the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office arrests out-of-town golf enthusiasts seeking Masters Tournament tickets. This is so wrong in so many ways.

Of course there is a market in tickets, and it would be mighty interesting to see everyone who has ever bought or sold a ticket hauled before a court. But the law apparently is enforced only against out-of-towners who are singled out by undercover cops – never against the little old ladies who, every year, sell off tickets “inherited” through their families.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength’s answer is that hoary old cliché that “ignorance of the law is no excuse,” while declining to inform those who have no way of otherwise discovering our selectively enforced law. No signs, no warnings – just grab and arrest. I think the sheriff is wrong when he quotes the “not to be sold” wording on the ticket as somehow representing the law. That is a private contract, not a statute. Besides, how can the purchaser possibly read it since he doesn’t have the ticket to read?

Police even nabbed a minister, of all people. Never mind the injustice of abusing well-intentioned visitors to our city – consider how this makes Augusta look.

Once a year, we clean the streets, fluff our pillows and put on our best smiles, while the police undermine our hospitality by laying traps for unwary fans seeking admission. I strongly support our sheriff’s office in its efforts to avert real crime, but this ticket policy is asinine and should be stopped.

Post some signs, politely warn any obnoxious offenders and stop harassing our guests. The sheriff’s policy and his attitude on this is an embarrassment to all of us.

Alan Stahl

Augusta

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