Remarks on October 8th, 1998
supporting the establishment of
our present borough-wide curfew
- Civil liberties of our youth will be impacted by this ordinance.
That's far from ideal. That's not good. Every law our community
accepts has some such impact. Finding the appropriate balance
between fostering our community's ideals and addressing our very
real problems is a complicated and difficult challenge.
This curfew is no different. There are many valid arguments on
both sides. We are weighing the freedom of our youth along side
the community's risks of their being left unsupervised at night.
We are also weighing whether or not this curfew would make better
use of public resources allocated for public safety than the means
available to our police today. I've grown more pragmatic over the
years and this issue, like many others dealt with by government,
reminds me of how and why. For me, the pragmatic arguments for the
curfew overbalance the ideals against it.
- This curfew is not martial law, but a community standard.
Equating this curfew to martial law is gross exaggeration.
I understand, as I'm sure most of us do, that martial law can be
less than military road blocks where machine guns are shoved in your
face. However, this curfew is far closer in the spectrum to
young-looking folks being asked for their ID in a bar. We're
talking about adopting a simple ordinance. All it takes to get rid
of it is six votes on some future Assembly.
- Exceptions: The eight exceptions enable youth with most legitimate
reasons to be out at night. Parents will have to go to a bit more
trouble to specifically allow some things. Others will be able site
the curfew to support their demand coming home on time.
- I am concerned about the impact on young university students, but
I don't see a clean solution. With my parent's encouragement, I
started attending UAF when I was 16. They were a few thousand miles
away in Maryland -- a bit far for writing a permission slip. Many a
time I walked the Chena Ridge - Chena Pump loop under the stars and
aurora of a clear cold winter's sky. I wouldn't be the same person
if I hadn't. I might have been able to talk my way out of a citation
and I wouldn't have minded an officer's taking down my name. On the
other hand, we've had some mighty serious crimes, including murder,
on campus and around town since then.
- One of the initial problems I had with this curfew was the fact
that it will not be uniformly enforced. I suspect that most folks
uphold the ideal that laws should be uniformly enforced. We value
that blindfold on our Lady Justice. But, one of our most notable
human abilities is that of talking out of both sides of our mouths.
- While I hold the ideal, I also see the reality. Many of our laws
are not uniformly enforced and we don't really want them to be.
We don't want to pay for the police that would be required and we
don't want them in our faces that much. Lots of folks drive a bit
over the speed limit when they're late for something. They'd prefer
not to get caught, but understand that they're taking on an increased
liability while breaking the law.
- Some say we shouldn't have laws that can't be uniformly enforced.
If the problematic behaviors would magically disappear, we wouldn't
need the laws. But since the behaviors are likely to continue,
resolving them would increasingly fall outside the legal system.
Would we truly prefer trespass violations and petty thefts to be
settled solely by well armed property owners?
- The point is that while this curfew can't possibly be uniformly
enforced, neither can many other laws. Therefore, whether it's a good
idea to adopt it or not depends largely upon the level of trust our
community has in our police force. We are indeed fortunate to have
fine men and women from our community providing excellent public service.
As long as we do, this ordinance will be of net benefit. If ever the
basis for our trust is broken, this curfew will be one of our less
- In closing: We should all be ashamed that we've let our community,
our state, and our country come to the point where such ordinances are
needed. Our shame should drive us to personally act to improve our
community. This means sacrificing a lot of our time and resources to
helping others, especially kids. It means choosing community
participation over selfish playing. We are not so immune to the
troubles we hear about on the news happening in other countries as we
blind ourselves into believing. Those folks didn't end up living with
terror and destruction because they wanted to, or because they're
more stupid than we are. We have a huge advantage living in a wealthy
and prosperous nation, state, and community.
- Whether you agree with it or not, the perceived need for this
curfew is a clear indication that we're letting our community deteriorate
through neglect. I applaud each of you who tries to make a difference
and thank you for the example you set for your friends and family.
Return to Cole Sonafrank's Political Page