“Foot-In-Mouth” – a HolyCitySinner.com series where I write something more opinion-based than the normal entries.
Let me start by saying I love the Charleston City Paper. They are an invaluable source of information for this site. They provide news, opinions, and event updates that are hard (or impossible) to find anywhere else. However, I think they are off-base in their most recent issue.
The latest edition has extensive coverage of the July 4th brawl on Folly Beach and subsequent alcohol ban by the City Council. In particular there are three pieces that jumped out at me:
1. "The Folly Beach Alcohol Ban is a Bit Late, But It's Worth the Effort" by Will Moredock
2. "The Folly Booze Ban is Not an Assault on Liberty" by Mat Catastrophe
3. "Because of These Jerks, Booze is Banned on Folly Beach" by Dan Conover
I've made my opinion on this matter known, but for those who don't normally follow this site, I will give you a brief recap. I am against the booze ban on Folly Beach, but did agree there have been troublesome issues. I adamantly disagree that the ban on alcohol will solve any of the problems that plague the community. I believe there are much better solutions that should at least be discussed.
Out of the three City Paper writers, Conover is the only one I have no issue with. His piece gives a very detailed overview of what's occurred on Folly and provides some necessary history as well. My favorite line in his article was: "by 'alcohol problem,' it's worth noting that residents specifically mean their island's summer-long 20-something douchebag alcohol problem. Because when you talk to people on the island, you repeatedly hear that the issue isn't alcohol on the beach per se, or young people in general, or even the occasional problems that arise when other demographics abuse the substance. They believe the problem is that Folly now attracts a distinct breed of heavy-drinking, young-adult jerk, and like an alien species of water plant that invades a local pond, the aggressive newcomers are choking out the natives."
I couldn't agree with him more. The drinking problem is with a very specific group of people, not every visitor on the beach. And that group of people tend to disrespect authority, which was evident on July 4th. Why would a drinking ban suddenly make them respect authority? The douchebags aren't going anywhere, folks.
Conover also mentions that there are only 16 police officers on the Folly force. Considering the other problems the community has, this is a problem.
As much as I enjoyed Conover's piece, I despised Moredock's just as much. He somehow makes the leap that because Folly allowed drinking on the beach, this signaled to everyone "that the rules are suspended, that anything goes." This assertion is ridiculous. Just because Folly allowed drinking on the beach, I did not take that to mean the town was completely lawless. I feel the majority are with me on that one.
Moredock also mentions that Folly residents have stated the community's problems have included "noise, litter, sexual assaults, burglaries, and other thefts." He also said "people do not feel safe on the streets at night." I fail to see how the alcohol ban will fix or alleviate ANY of these problems - save for the most minor ones (noise, litter).
He then "argues" with the "freedom monkeys" who say this ban is an infringement on their personal freedoms. There are those out there who believe the ban is an affront on their rights, but they are missing the point too. This isn't a violation of rights, but it is the wrong move. My problem with the ban is that it solves nothing. This was a uncessary, knee-jerk reaction by the city.
Catastrophe's article almost exclusively lashes out at this same group. He attacks those who think this is "big government" going after personal rights. Again, there are those that probably believe that and they are completely wrong. That portion of Catastrophe's piece is valid, but there's no need to argue with that sect. It's a small group of people who don't need any scolding.
No one's talking about the real problem here - the alcohol ban won't actually fix anything. No, there won't be another riot, but that won't be because of the ruling. The other problems, however, will persist. A larger police force is needed. A greater and more visible presence would solve or alleviate all of the problems the beach has. THAT is something the Folly Beach residents should be discussing. They need to make the community safer. Banning alcohol on the beach doesn't even come close to doing that. They shouldn't be shocked when the other crimes and problems continue well into the future.