As you may have been able to guess from my last couple of posts, Facebook conversations are probably the largest trigger of rage in my daily life. I suspect that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I fully understand that I could just pull the plug. Delete my profile, or at the very least, stop reading my feed. Like many others, however, I’ve got a number of people (including my brother who is currently serving in Afghanistan) who I don’t really have direct contact with otherwise. I don’t chat on the phone, and people don’t really e-mail anymore outside of business- and annoying religious and political-themed chain e-mails. The bigger problem with walking away from Facebook, for me anyway, is that it doesn’t actually solve anything. I’d just be subscribing to the “ignorance is bliss” ideology, and well, I think that’s bullshit.
I sort of feel like a hypocrite tonight. Back in the fall, when the Occupy Movement had just started gaining steam, I found myself frustrated at the level of indifference amongst many of my acquaintances, and really, people in general. I couldn’t understand how people just really didn’t seem to care about things that affected them. I wanted to rally people up.”Open your eyes!” “Fight for your rights!” and all that jazz.
And yet here I am, two steps away from smashing my head against the keyboard because people are doing just that. More specifically, people are outraged because of recent changes to the law in LA County that effectively ban the use of frisbees and footballs on beaches between Labor Day and Memorial Day.
The term “police state” has come up more than once in discussion of this issue. It blows my mind, particularly when you consider that this is really nothing new. The LA County ordinance is merely a revision of already-existing laws on the books, and in fact is somewhat more liberal than the old laws. The law which previously read:
It is unlawful for any person to cast, toss, throw, kick, or roll any ball, tube, or any light object other than inflated rubber balls not less than 10 inches in diameter upon or over any beach regulated by this Part 3…
Has been amended to read:
A. General Prohibition: It is unlawful for any person to cast, toss, throw, kick, or roll any ball, tube, or any light object other than a beach ball or beach volleyball upon or over any beach except the following:
- In an area that may be established and/or designated for such use by the Director.
- When the person first obtains a permit by the Director to conduct such activity.
- When using a water polo ball in or over the Pacific Ocean opposite such beach.
- When using any other object over or in the Pacific Ocean opposite such beach, the person first obtains previous authorization from the Fire Chief or ocean lifeguard to conduct such activity.
B. Exception for Off-Season: The ball-playing restrictions set forth in subsection A shall not be applicable during the period between Labor Day and Memorial Day, provided the involved ball-playing activity is carried out in such a manner so as not to endanger any person or property on or near the beach. In no event shall any structure or improvement used for ball-playing purposes be placed on the beach without the previous authorization of the Director.
You see how that’s a bit different than “omgggg the 5-0 are trying to steal our good time!!!”?
I suspect that the ordinance only exists in the first place due to the inability of some people to use common sense, and the tendency of those very same people to be kind of lawsuit-happy, but I can’t say for sure. It really doesn’t matter to me. This isn’t the authorities saying “You can’t play ball”. This is the authorities saying “You can’t play ball in the middle of this crowded area unless the lifeguard says it’s ok, because we don’t want to have to deal with someone freaking out because they got railed in the head. Take your ball over there. Or use a beach ball. You know, something that is less likely to give someone a bloody nose if they get in your way.”
But maybe that’s just me.
I also suspect that I’m one of very few people who actually bothered to read the ordinance. Many of the media outlets even got the facts wrong, with initial reports stating that anyone in violation of the ordinance would be subject to a $1,000 fine (the actual fine is either $100, $300, or $500, depending on the number of offenses).
Maybe I’d feel better about the outrage if people were better informed, and it didn’t seem like they were just manipulating facts to suit their own agendas. Maybe I’d be ok with it if the people complaining ever did anything to facilitate change, rather than just playing the part of armchair critic on Facebook. I’m certain I’d feel a whole lot better if this hyperawareness and outrage extended further than the featured article on Yahoo! News…but that isn’t the case.
I know that isn’t the case, because I have yet to see a single mention of Syria. If someone can’t play frisbee wherever the hell they want to, we cry and stomp our feet and call it a police state. But an actual situation where people’s basic human rights are at stake is met with silence.
I suppose it’s a good thing that people care at all, but I can’t help but feel angry and frustrated. I’m still screaming, “Open your eyes!”