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September 1997 Anti-Curfew Speech

Written by Dave Doctor Apr 11, 2011

The San Diego politicians are waging a War of Intolerance and you are the victims. They have passed laws that outlaw skate boarding, dancing, and even cruising. And there is no end in sight. There latest law of intolerance is the San Diego Juvenile curfew.

The teen curfew forbids people under 18 from being out past 10 pm. In June of 1997, that curfew was ruled unconstitutional by a Federal Court. So what did the City Council do? They simply revised the curfew by adding some narrow exceptions.

20 days later we started to fight back. On July 11th, 1997 we launched our campaign to repeal the curfew in Mission Bay Park. We began with 50 people and, two weeks later we had 150 anti-curfew protesters. Since then we have had protest marches throughout San Diego including one that was covered by M-TV.

Many people justify the curfew by saying that teenagers do not have the same rights as adults. But this campaign is not about teenage rights. It is about the unjust punishment of honest Americans.

We are protesting the curfew because every law-abiding American should have the right to freely socialize at any time. No one is harmed when a law-abiding teenager stands in a park at night. Therefore, it should not be a crime. It has only become a crime because the Mayor will not allow people to choose their own lifestyles.

Our politicians may believe that hanging out is harmful but that doesn’t mean it should be illegal. They like to call it loitering. Well, allow me to suggest another description: I call it socializing. Every time that you see a sign that says no loitering, what it is really saying is no socializing. And if socializing is illegal, should we still call America the land of the free?

Some people like to go to movies and others like to hang out in a park. Neither activity should be illegal. If we allow the government to dictate a teenager’s lifestyle, then we give the government the power to dictate every person’s lifestyle.

On Thursday, the nation celebrated the racial integration of a high school in the South. Yet today, in San Diego, we are still limiting the freedom of a minority. Teenagers, like the Blacks in the Old South, are treated like criminals. Every night, they are the victims of segregation. Every night, everyone under 18 must go home while all other individuals are allowed to travel freely.

The politicians really want teenagers off the streets at all times. The daytime curfew keeps them off the streets 7 am to 2 pm, and now, the nighttime curfew forces them home by 10 pm. For more than half of every weekday, 15 hours, teenagers cannot travel freely. They cannot hang out. They cannot socialize.

The politicians wrote the curfew law because we have already accepted other laws which punish everyone for the actions of a few. We can’t drive 90 mph because of a few reckless drivers and we can’t drink on the beach past 8 pm because of a few rowdy drunks. If only the we had protested those laws, then maybe we would not have the curfew. Maybe, we would have a society where law-abiding citizens can live their lives in peace.

The politicians will tell you that we cannot have that much freedom. They will say that society will be out of control. But, this street fair is proof that thousands of people can peacefully assemble. There may be a few troublemakers but for the most part, a majority of the people at this fair are law-abiding citizens.

Politicians think that you are criminals and they treat you like criminals. But you are not criminals and you deserve freedom. The freedom to hang out a night. The freedom to drink past 8 pm on the beach. And the freedom to live your lives as you see fit.

Now, it is just a matter of time before they outlaw this event because of someone that threw up on another person’s lawn, or because someone urinates in an alley. Why do I think that? Because the intolerant politicians in Pacific Beach canceled the Pacific Beach Block Party. These are the same politicians who refuse to let teenagers socialize at night.

The San Diego politicians deny that they are trying to outlaw a lifestyle. They always claim that they need the teen curfew for their war on crime. Don’t believe them. The curfew is just another tool for their War of Intolerance. Every week, they write new laws that outlaw lifestyles.

In their tool chest of oppression there is also the skate boarding laws, the drinking laws, the gambling laws, and of course the cruising law in Mission Beach which outlaws continuous driving. These laws are not written to reduce crime, they are written to outlaw lifestyles. Basically, if Mayor Golding doesn’t do it , then she makes it illegal.

The Mayor is acting like a bully of a high school. She wants to tell everyone what to do and when to do it. Even I am the victim of a curfew. The local government forces all bars to close at 2 am. The politicians claim that this will reduce drinking and driving but their real reason is to get me to go home. And the real reason for the curfew is to get teenagers off the streets. It has nothing to do with crime.

The reduction of crime is a noble goal. But unfortunately, the curfew is the wrong way to do it. Using the curfew to reduce crime is like a mother disciplining a child with her fist. In both cases, the solution is worse than the original problem.

The biggest problem with the curfew is that it limits the freedom of honest teenagers in order to reduce crime. The politicians think that one bad apple spoils the whole bunch. That statement applies to fruit not humans.

It is possible to pick out and punish criminals without taking away our freedom. For example, if you were a school teacher, would you cancel class because of a few trouble makers? Or would you expel the trouble makers? The curfew expels teenagers from the classroom of life.

We should never unjustly punish a law-abiding American. If people are recklessly skate boarding, stop them, don’t outlaw skate boarding. And if some teenagers are yelling late at night, arrest them, but don’t give every teenager a curfew. The few DO NOT have to spoil it for the many. Humans are not apples.

The politicians also claim that the curfew protects teenagers from gangs. The only gang that teenagers should be worried about is the group of political thugs in City Hall. If you study history, you will see that intolerant politicians have caused much more harm than local gangs.

Every time their is a problem, politicians want to limit freedom. To stop nighttime crime, they took all teenagers off the streets. To stop noisy drunks on the beach at night, they took away everyone’s right to enjoy a beer. And to stop a few troublemakers in Pacific Beach, our intolerant politicians canceled the entire PB Block Party.

They do this because it is easier to stop honest individuals than to go after criminals. Stopping criminals takes effort. Imagine if your job was to ensure that no one got into a fight today. Wouldn’t it be easier to cancel the fair? Instead of 100,000 people, there would be 1,000 people. So to make their jobs easier, the police and the politicians have stolen our freedom.

Now unlike the drinking laws and the skateboarding laws, there is a way to be exempt from the curfew. According to the law, a teenager is exempt from the curfew, if he or she is exercising First Amendment rights which are protected by the Constitution. Therefore, the campaign to repeal the curfew is launching a “Stick Up for your Rights” Protest.

Starting today, if you make and wear a Repeal the Curfew sticker, you are part of the protest, and you are exempt from the law. The Stick up for rights! protest will ensure that no teenagers are arrested for violating the curfew.

If the police try to arrest you, tell them you are exercising your first amendment right to protest the curfew. If the police still arrest you, do not plead guilty, plead innocent and sue the police for violating your First Amendment rights. Your sticker, this speech, and the campaign are proof that you are part of an organized political protest.

If you don’t protest these laws, they will get worse. Nobody protested the 18 year old drinking age, and one day it was raised to 21. Nobody protested the skate boarding law on Mission Beach, and last month the politicians expanded it. If we don’t protest the curfew, in a few years, a new intolerant Mayor will either expand the timeframe to be from dusk to dawn or he will raise the age.

Now is the time to fight back.
Now is the time to stop getting pushed around by unjust laws.
Now is the time to protect your freedom.

So actively protest the curfew, wear a sticker, and legally stay out as late as you want. And most of all elect politicians that will protect your freedom not take it away. Our current politicians try to keep you safe by stealing your freedom. But always remember that you will never be safe until you are free.

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