New year, old booze bans.
I thought I’d start 2010 with an observation. John Gilmore famously said that the internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it and I’ve sometimes wondered why this doesn’t apply more in real life. Why don’t we treat authoritarianism as damage and ‘route around it’ more? Well, obviously that’s not always easy when you’re up against something as big and powerful as the state or even one of it’s various minions, but this New Year I’ve seen an example.
I’ve blogged before about alcohol free zones in Australia (see here and here), but I only recently became aware that in Melbourne there is an alcohol ban in force for New Year covering the areas around the beach at South Melbourne. Apparently they do this every year but for some reason I never noticed till now, though that might explain why previous New Year’s Eves I’ve seen helicopters hovering over the area and pointing their searchlights around. I’d assumed it was dickheads in the water and the helicopters were involved in the rescue and using the lights to show rescuers where to go. Now I’m told that the helicopters were almost certainly going after people flouting the ban on public drinking. It’s a $100 fine but presumably the helicopters are just there to blow sand into everyone’s drinks and shine the lights in their eyes so they see in the New Year squinting.
So having been told that I decided that this year after watching the fireworks for a bit I’d go over there and see what goes on. And as it happens the answer is absolutely nothing: zilch, nada, nowt, fucking donut central. Now possibly the weather had something to do with it, because it was a rather pissy start to the decade with a storm front that moved in around 9pm and distracted from the fireworks with a bloody good light show of it’s own (actually the fireworks were a bit feeble by comparison). But there’s another possibility that I wouldn’t have even known about if, just for the hell of it, I hadn’t gone home along the beach road late the previous night. Then it wasn’t pissy but lovely and warm and balmy, and the beach was packed. Every parking space I passed was occupied. Every pedestrian crossing had people leaving or going to the beach, some with towels or wet clothing. Every light on the beach side of the road showed people apparently having a good time. And since I saw quite a few tins being raised I can’t help thinking that a lot of people might have decided to treat the alcohol bans as damage and go have their beach parties the night before New Year’s Eve before the ban came into force.
Now I don’t know this for certain and had the weather been the same tonight maybe there’d be a load of people on the beach again. But it really was pretty busy there when I passed by on Wednesday night and I can’t believe that out of so many people there weren’t some who were there so they could bring booze. Well, I choose to believe that there were some, okay? So on that basis I’m making a New Year’s resolution, which I haven’t bothered to do for at least ten years. Whenever a piece of authoritarian legislation directly affects me I’m going to see if, rather than doing what the bastards want, I can’t do what I want and they don’t in a way they haven’t allowed for. I don’t know how much opportunity or success I’ll have but I hope to at least have the satisfaction of trying.
Now I’d never encourage people to break the law, but I know people already get round it by taking a big bottle of soft drink mixer and adding the fuel of choice before leaving home. It’s only fair that people who don’t like spirits have a fighting chance too.