Someone needs to tell Assembly member Fiona Ma that the '90s – with its myopic War on Drugs mentality, ascendant rave scene, and chest-beating “tough on crime” political one-upsmanship – are over, even though we're still paying that era's bills. Because Ma just introduced AB 74, which seeks to bans raves in California.
Why now? Well, her website says this “historic legislation” was written “on the heels of recent drug-related tragedies in Los Angeles and the Bay Area,” referring to three drug-related deaths at two events last May and June. And even though the same statement claims “attendance at raves can range from 16,000 to 185,000 people,” Ma somehow thinks that a few overdoses justifies a broad ban on dance parties (although she pointedly exempts live concerts, for reasons she doesn't explain, even though the exact same argument can be made about concerts).
As a representative from the vibrant city of San Francisco, Ma (who did not return our calls for comment) is an embarrassment, taking the already-regressive War on Fun efforts by so-called “moderate” politicians to a new low. But unfortunately, the effort to ban public dance parties has already gained traction at the federal level with provisions of the long-controversial RAVE Act – promoted by top Democrats as well as Republicans -- finally sneaking their way onto the books last year.
And now, Ma wants to get into the act, as always seeking to curry favor with the cops in the process (not to mention the alcohol industry, a prime funder of the War on Drugs and the ambitions of its political foot soldiers such as Ma). If they get their way, nothing short of our basic constitutional right of freedom of assembly is at risk, and that should be of concern to people of all ideological stripes.