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    Nothing ‘criminal’ about teen party

    “O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

    That question, written some time after the American Revolution, very much captures the spirit of the founding of this country. The Founders knew that freedom has its risks and its costs, but people should be willing and able to take the risks and stand the costs and live the way they what to.

    While I believe our government’s response to the 9/11 attacks has been correctly criticized as counterproductive because it actually promoted and justified (to some people) terrorism and promoted unjustified intrusion into our lives, there seems to be a larger, less obvious problem in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    For a long time before 9/11 we seem to have drifted toward a nanny government that wants to criminalize anything and everything that some one thinks is wrong. There seems to be an attitude that punishing as many people as possible is just wonderful.

    Anyone in politics can tell you that politics has become more and more polarized. While that may be true there seems to be a collusion between the socialist left and the religious right to micro-manage everyone’s lives. The left wants to do it by micro-managing all money (redistributing income) and all markets. The religious right wants to impose a one-size-fits-all set of moral rules on everyone. Beyond the law, other government agencies seem to be getting on the criminalizing bandwagon.

    Schools now discipline students for, so called, off campus infractions. Quoting Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union: “Because school discipline in New York is routinely treated as a criminal matter, our public schools feed the school to prison pipeline – sending (often after suspension) our children to jail – for infractions as benign as writing on a desk, loosing a summons, or coming to school without identification.” It is not just New York schools. More than two million students were suspended during the 2009-2010 school year.

    My first “contact” with alcohol was at a family gathering and was offered by my father well before I was “of age.” Subsequently I had a few “extra-legal” contacts with alcohol. It was no big deal! It is my opinion, unproven, that the rise in binge drinking is related to the federally imposed age limit of 21. Drinking is a social activity and should be done openly in a controlled situation, like in the family.

    The fact that a party given by a Westerly parent got too big and out of control was certainly wrong. That is something anyone can see. To say that any harm was done that could be called “criminal” is nothing short of absurd. More and more it seems that the flag waves o’er the land of the cowed and the home of the fearful.

    Vic Arnold

    Westerly



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