Volume 93, Issue 88

Thursday, March 16, 2000


Editorial Board 1999-2000

A raving mad public outcry

Editorial cartoon

A raving mad public outcry

Earlier this week Toronto police Chief Julian Fantino and Mayor Mel Lastman announced that a new strike force was being organized to combat the ills which accompany the illegal after-hours club scene, such as drinking, drugs and guns.

Public outcry to murders at such parties over the past few months have stoked the fire and incited a call to action. Obviously, the first place to look in their search to end the proliferation of drugs and firearms, are the places where they have made their most recent appearances. These clubs are not only the usual suspects, but the usual culprits.

Considering the media attention surrounding these parties of late, parents of children who attend after-hours events must be scared stiff about their childrens' nocturnal activities. This begs one to ask whether or not such a strike force is token in nature, or whether it can actually produce positive results.

A certain mass hysteria has followed the blazing speed at which drugs and guns have hit the streets, which has caused the public to jump to the conclusion that raves and after-hour events equal death.

It's not a bad thing to be drawing attention to the issue. The truth is–younger and younger kids are dying at the hands of violence and drugs and any measure taken to curtail this, is welcome.

Still, society runs the risk of spreading its collective concern too thin and developing a myopic vision of social safety. The 49 deaths which have come at venues such as illegal after-hours parties since 1991 pale in comparison to the staggering amount of individuals who die in alcohol related incidents each year.

As well, the inevitable difficulties of policing a sub-culture whose allure and mystique will almost always manage to draw a crowd, is further testament that this is an older generation who doesn't understand the younger one. The fact is, the rave culture does not breed a violent atmosphere, but rather one of unity and acceptance. It is an extension of hippie culture into the present. It is being dragged into this war on crime primarily because of its undeniable link to the drug scene.

However, many after-hours bars and clubs, unlike raves, which still serve alcohol after last-call and are where the media have rightly focused their attention. The combination of drugs, guns and alcohol usually makes for newsworthy, yet tragic, events.

Kudos to Toronto for recognizing an alarming trend among its young people, but a warning to those who learn their lessons about society solely from television – sensationalization of the subject is part-in-parcel of how the issue is brought to our attention. We shouldn't lose sight of other ails of society.

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