Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sinking Floatopia Is Not the Solution

Photo courtesy of San Diego Entertainer Magazine
Funny things happen when the government tries to curtail liberty—people find ways to get around those restrictions.

San Diego's wrong-headed ban on alcohol at city beaches provides a classic example. Party goers keep discovering creative new means of skirting the ban, each more troubling to the City than the last.

It all started with a beach brawl involving about 70 drunken idiots during Labor Day 2007. This sparked major outrage, and San Diego voters in 2008 chose to permanently ban alcohol consumption along city beaches.

Of course, the City and the voters had the option of increasing punishments for being drunk in public or beach fighting, or even banning alcohol only on holiday weekends when the large crowds—consisting largely of non-San Diegans—reach critical mass.

But, no. The knee-jerk reaction is to ban the substance, rather than its abuser. Forget all the people out there (about 99.9 percent of us) who manage to consume alcohol without starting a riot. And forget that the trouble makers will inevitably find ways to drink on the beach anyway, while the rest of us sip Capri Sun.

In the meantime, many of the ban's supporters are happily sipping Kool-Aid in the comfort of their homes, assuring themselves that they've done right by the attendees they don't know of a beach they never visit.

Well, San Diegans predictably rebelled by starting Floatopia parties, where literally hundreds of revelers float along Mission Bay and drink all the alcohol they want. After all, the ban only extended to the beach itself—it mentioned nothing about the water!

Of course, boozing on a small float surrounded by hundreds of revelers really isn't the brightest idea—it's a good way to drown. Lifeguards were forced to rescue dozens of drunk idiots. So, the City Council recently reacted by sinking Floatopia:
The council voted unanimously Monday to extend the beach alcohol ban off the shoreline for bathers — almost everyone who is not in a kayak or boat — effectively ending the floating parties where mostly college-aged revelers drink in inner tubes or on other inflatable devices.
Well, that will show them! Why, the only way those darn kids can party on the beach is by renting kayaks! Wait...

Kayaks, that can easily capsize. That are propelled by long, heavy plastic paddles. Operated by people who are heavily drinking. Potentially in very close proximity to one another.

So, in other words, we've gone from allowing people to drink on the beach, to moving the drinking onto inner tubes, and now restricting drinking to kayaks. Is it just me, or does each "solution" cause more danger than the original problem? People are still finding ways to drink at the beach, and will continue to do so no matter what the City throws their way.

They will have their booze; the law only punishes those who want cold a beer or two on a hot day at the beach.

And me? Heck, I'm not even a beach goer; I just want to have the right to responsibly drink on the beach if I so choose, just as I want other adults to have that right.

Can't we just live our lives, and punish legitimate offenders?

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