In a knee-jerk reaction to the unlawfulness of a deviant minority, this week the Greenville City Council passed an “emergency” curfew, forbidding minors to hang out or cruise through downtown Greenville after 10pm on weekend nights. This act, which council members have threatened to make permanent, restricts the liberty of all Greenville youth, most of whom are responsible, law-abiding individuals. The same fallacious justification – that if some few in society choose to abuse their liberties, then the government must restrict the liberty of all – has been used for decades to curtail individual rights, like the right to bear arms, all over the country.
South Carolina is one of the last bastions of Constitutional liberty left in the U.S., but recently we’ve begun stampeding towards the Nanny State mentality of our Northern and West Coast kinsmen. Many people in our great state still value individual liberty, personal responsibility, and Constitutional principles. But the tide is turning, as evidenced by the Big Brother solution proposed by the city leadership to deal with today’s “emergency.”
As Greenville grows, so will the risk of deviant youth wrecking havoc on city streets. But so too will grow the potential cultural, social, and educational benefits of the downtown experience. Along with many other Greenville natives, I was greatly enriched by experiences, conversations, and new friends discovered in downtown Greenville – some even after (gasp!) 10pm on a weekend night – and I never committed a crime or created a nuisance there. These experiences enriched my life and contributed to making me into the cultured, responsible adult I am today. It would be a great shame to take that same opportunity away from responsible young men and women, especially in a time when Greenville is becoming more and more a rich source of southern culture.
The only legitimate purpose of an “emergency curfew” would be to give the City time to figure out how better to perform its job: protecting the individual and property rights of downtown businesses and patrons. This manufactured “emergency” is tantamount to an admission that the City is unable or unwilling to do so. In either case, one must assume, downtown Greenville is a dangerous place to be avoided by all. I propose an alternative solution: keep the police presence in downtown on par with the population and commercial growth in the area. The City Council ought to do its job and protect our rights instead of trampling on them.
I am planning a sit-in protest for tomorrow night (Saturday, 9/5), to begin at 10pm at the intersection of Main St. and Court St. I encourage like-minded advocates of freedom and responsible southern youth to join me in this act of civil disobedience. Join me in saying “No” to the Nanny State, ”No” to violence, vandalism, and substance abuse, and “Yes” to the freedom to live and the liberty to learn.
Dan Edge, Greenville, SC
Dan Edge is a Greenville native, a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a BA in Philosophy, a student of Constitutional principles, and an ardent advocate of liberty. He is not affiliated with any political party or public advocacy group.