Saturday, October 31, 2009

Curfew Averts Riotous Mayhem In Hunterdon County?

Hunterdon teens are so threatening their own parents allow illegal curfew. Photo courtesy
Raritan Twp. General Ordinance Chapter 9.12 establishes a Halloween curfew. Minors are not allowed outside anywhere in the township unless accompanied by an adult between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. from Oct. 26th - Nov. 2nd subject to arrest. Both parent and juvenile offender to be penalized with community service hours and are subject to the provisions of Chapter 1.08.010. From a quick Web search, I have not been able to figure out what those penalties may be (this is not an investigative journalism piece). It turns out that Halloween curfews are quite common in America today. Cities like Detroit and Newark have a riotous history that makes it seem perfectly reasonable - even prudent - to enact preventative curfews. But Raritan Twp., NJ? The median income for a family is $126,663.00. I haven't seen too many teens flipping over the neighbor's minivan. Clearly, young people in Raritan Twp. are no great threat to the community. In fact, according to 2003 Police statistics (the current year available) there were 827 Adult Arrests (not including drunk drivers) and 154 Juvenile Arrests. It seems the people under 18 are far less of a threat than the adults who voted (or at least didn't oppose) to confine their own children to their homes.

But what disturbed me most about these curfews is that they are clearly in violation of the First Amendment. Yet despite that, and despite that there really is no threat of a riot in Raritan or in most towns, people think it's ok to enact curfews anyway - just in case. Many even welcome curfews...lest roaming hoards of travel soccer players and their Nintendo DS-wielding siblings terrorize the neighborhood.

As a friendly reminder, the First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law...abridging the right of the people peaceably to assemble...". The First Amendment trumps local ordinances. The less people resist when our freedoms are being taken away, the more we invite our remaining freedoms to be trampled upon and eventually dismissed. But why teach kids about Washington, Jefferson and Franklin and the freedoms they secured for us when we have Marx, Mao and Castro to admire?

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