Thinking about the social host ordinance and the related controversy I was inspired to read David Vanderveen’s essay (“Local Currents,” May 25 edition). After reading it I thought of an imaginary dialogue with my own son- as if he were a student caught up in this event. (Actually, I am proud to say he is a very happy new dad and a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics!).
So here’s how the dialogue would go:
Son: Mom I want to protest with my friends against the social host ordinance.
Me: No you can’t protest against the social host ordinance. You can protest against drone warfare, further cuts to education and health care, any more bailouts to Wall Street bankers, but you cannot disrupt school so that other kids can drink themselves stupid at their friends’ house.
Son: But mom, they said if they can’t drink in the comfort of someone’s home they’ll have to go drink in the hills.
Me: Yes, in the dark and cold with coyotes and spiders. How long do you think that party will last?
Son: But mom, Mr. Vanderveen said we are losing our freedom while the Arabs in Qatar are getting more freedom.
Me: I’ve read Mr. Vanderveen on the subject of liberty, democracy, monarchs and dictators. His arguments and conclusions are naïve and absurd.
Son: Why mom?
Me: Because democracy is born of struggle and revolution, not always bloody, but definitely bottom up. Monarchs, emirs, dictators and the like never willingly hand over power. If they occasionally get tipsy and talk up democracy it’s for the same reason they splash on aftershave: to make themselves smell good and look good to their subjects. Also, good Americans don’t support the results of covert CIA operations that overthrow democratically elected presidents, as was the case in Chile, installing the thug Augusto Pinochet. We just don’t espouse the benevolent dictator form of government because it goes against the very cherished principles upon which this country was founded.
Civil liberties? We lose our civil liberties when American citizens are detained without being charged or when our government spies on us. We lose them when we are harassed because of the color of our skin, choice of religion or economic status. We don’t lose them because the PTA and city council say you can’t allow with impunity your neighbors kid to get potted in your house while your off on a weekend jaunt in Vegas.
Son: And the argument that the ordinance doesn’t effectively deal with underage drinking?
Me: You have to start somewhere. It’s just one more tool that the community has in order to help do for kids what they and irresponsible adults aren’t able or willing to.
Mary Dolphin, Laguna Beach