Anyone that reads message boards or newspaper comment threads is familiar with the "hang 'em high" mentality that comes with the territory.
No matter the subject matter, hard-liners will insist that any and all infractions must be met with quick and severe discipline. Any other approach is seen as lily-livered or weak-kneed. Take the malefactor out back and tan his hide with a leather strap.
The actions the Salem Licensing Board took against Bangkok Paradise last night will not come close to appeasing some of those homebound "knights of the keyboard" (thank you Ted Williams). That is because we do not govern by the QWERTY method.
In a meeting that covered infractions from two separate incidents, Bangkok Paradise was issued both a written warning and a "roll back"of their entertainment license hours. The written warning is the result of an allegation that am underage person was served two beers. A demonstrated and consistent failure to maintain order in the late night hours was the reason given for limiting the hours allowed for entertainment.
The business will have to stop all entertainment to include televisions and radios at 11 p.m. every night for the next six months. Their entertainment hours had previously run until 12:30 a.m.
These punitive measures are in line with steps taken against other Salem businesses for similar infractions in the past.
The Lyceum, O'Neil's, In A Pig's Eye and Murphy's all endured written warnings for underage liquor violations over the last three years. The now defunct Roosevelt's was the last business in Salem to be forced to roll back their entertainment hours.
These steps may seem to many to be inadequate. They are not. We live in a society where procedures and rules exist. No matter what the accusation may be against a business, there are certain steps that must be taken in order to maintain the legitimate legal process. Pulling a liquor license without a clear trail of less punitive steps would only lead to delays through appeal and a probable legal ruling favoring the business.
The steps taken by the licensing board could eventually lead to the shuttering of Bangkok Paradise.
The next step belongs to Jesus Franco, the owner of Bangkok Paradise. He has already signed on to the "One Strike And You're Out" initiative with other downtown watering holes. There is more work to be done, and he knows it.
The recent problems at Bangkok are not unique to that establishment. Others in Salem have had comparable issues. Knives are not what we want to see, but, having worked 15 years on the door or behind the bar in Salem, they are nothing new. Knuckleheads and dime store tough guys have always been around.
Franco, through his lawyer, has owned up to some serious mistakes and promised to take measures to avoid repeating those mistakes. He deserves a chance to show that he is as good as his word.
If Bangkok Paradise proves unable to live up their promises and more incidents occur, I have full confidence that the process Bob St. Pierre and the board initiated back on Oct. 9 will lead to the right conclusion.