Baltimore Mayor to Curfew Foes: Go Live On a Farm

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake doesn't have patience for critics of the curfew she wants to impose on the city's kids. WBFF reports:

24-hour party people

Commenting for the first time publicly since the city council passed a law that would ban teens under 14 from being out after 9 p.m., the mayor took aim at concerns over the new restrictions, urging parents to get more involved with supervising their children.

"If you want to have your kid run amok 24 hours a day, go live out on a farm somewhere. This is a city and we are going to make sure that we keep our kids safe," Rawlings-Blake said. "I'm not going to sit by and allow our young people to be either perpetrators or victims of violence when everybody with any common sense knows they should be supervised by a responsible adult."

I'm pretty sure farmers tend to go to bed earlier than city people, but set that aside. Let's move on to the editorial page of The Baltimore Sun, which has joined the mayor in supporting the revised curfew. Interestingly, the Sun recognizes that the new rules won't do much to limit crime—"most juvenile offenses occur during the daylight hours just after school lets out," the paper notes—but it thinks the law is worthwhile on other grounds:

Most children found on the street after curfew are not plotting to commit a crime; the more likely reason for their presence outdoors is that they are fleeing unstable, neglectful or abusive home environments or are from families that are experiencing homelessness.

Picking such children up and identifying them to social workers is the first line of defense against allowing them to develop even more serious problems, and it is an opportunity to help parents set reasonable limits on their comings and goings. Of the 500 or so youngsters brought to the city's curfew center last summer, only a few dozen were returned there for subsequent curfew violations, which suggests the center's counseling and other services were having the desired effect.

It's not exactly news that the welfare state has punitive functions and the criminal justice system has welfare functions, but it's still striking to see those two threads woven together as tightly as they are in this argument. The Sun's editorialists evidently think the optimal way to identify kids in bad family situations is to see who's outside after 9, that the people best suited for finding them are the police, and that the best way to improve their lives is to threaten their families with a $500 fine (just what an unstable household needs!). There is no evident concern for the abuse and neglect the kids might suffer if they end up getting drawn into the system, and there is a bizarre faith that "subsequent curfew violations" are a good metric for figuring out if people's problems have been solved. Beneath its soft-spoken, humanitarian rhetoric, this editorial is even more contemptuous than the mayor's line about moving to the farm.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Hasn't SR-B been indicted yet?

  • JW||

    Giev it time; she hasn't alientated the right people yet.

    It's a time-honored Bal'mer tradition to have nothing but the scummiest and slimiest of pols running the place. We're not about to have her screw up that legacy.

  • ||

    Yes, remember Nancy Pelosi's origin...

  • Doctor Whom||

    Q. What do you call a [various big cities] politician who is retiring from politics?

    A. The Defendant.

  • LiveFreeOrDiet||

    Of the 500 or so youngsters brought to the city's curfew center last summer, only a few dozen were returned there for subsequent curfew violations, which suggests the center's counseling and other services were having the desired effect.

    To teach them to hide more effectively?

  • UnCivilServant||

    Am I the only one who get the vibe that this "live on a farm" comment rings of when bad parents tell their kids that the family pet they had to put down "went to live on a farm"?

  • ||

    I just had visions of corner boys cow-tipping

  • Auric Demonocles||

    It made me think of MNG and TRACTOR PULLZ!

  • Cliché Bandit||

    But he has a PHD! He is better than you.

  • trshmnster the terrible||

    She's telling a bunch of predominantly black families that if they don't like her city, they need to go "live on a farm." If that's not a dogwhistle, then I don't know what is.

  • ||

    It can't be a dog whistle because she's black and a democrat. Duh!

  • Doctor Whom||

    1. Given Baltimore City's population trend and Rawlings-Blake's efforts to reverse that trend, telling people who disagree with her to move out may not be the wisest argument.

    2. It sounds as though the editorial board of The Baltimore Sun would cure brain cancer by amputating a limb.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    What's her goal she always talks about, bring 10,000 new families into the city?

  • Bryan C||

    The editorial board of The Baltimore Sun would cure brain cancer by raising taxes on the hospital and using the doctors as targets for a live-fire exercise. If a Democrat suggested it.

  • mr simple||

    it is an opportunity to help parents set reasonable limits on their comings and goings.

    Because parents need the help of Top Men to know what's a reasonable way to raise their children.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Look dude, if you can think of a better way than criminalizing harmless behavior and levying hefty fines to make poor people do what you want, I'd like to hear it.

  • ||

    Summary execution

    Beer me five.

  • Cyto||

    I'm still not sure how these curfews manage to pass constitutional muster. I guess Thomas's chattel theory of children holds sway at all levels of government.

  • ||

    Eh, kids aren't entitled to the full bevy of rights that adults enjoy. Deciding which ones they get and which ones they don't is inherently going to be arbitrary, so from a legal standpoint it's hard to justify one restriction but not another once you've started down that line of reasoning.

  • Dweebston||

    But the restriction isn't primarily on the kid, it's on the parents. It's the parents who will pay the fine, the parents who will answer to CPS (or whatever Maryland's equivalent is), the parents who spend a day in jail for truancy, etc. The kids are just shuffled around the bureaucratic machine while it sorts out a proper punishment for their parents.

  • ||

    Yeah conveniently, the restriction is technically on the kids but the blame and punishment is on the parents. Win-win.

  • 4tehsnowflakes||

    To survive a constitutional challenge the curfew must include exceptions sufficiently broad to make it appear on the face that the minor's exercise of fundamental rights such as speech, worship and freedom of movement are not overburdened. That means carefully crafted exceptions including for institutional events connected with school, work or worship. Parents also have constitutional rights w/r/t child raising and the curfew must leave scope for that.

    In practice curfews work like loitering laws, creating a status crime that give police more discretion to stop, question, and arrest undesirables.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Children have the exact same rights as adults. What is a political question is when they get to exercise those rights unencumbered by the restrictions of authority. A 17 year old has the right to purchase and consume alcohol but his ability to exercise that right has been held in reserve by a body politic setting an arbitrary age at which time he has the requisite responsibility and can understand/bear the consequences of his actions.

    nits = picked.

  • Number 2||

    Remember , Cyto, your children do not belong to you, they belong to Society. Didn't some MSNBC knucklehead say this?

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    They belong to the village.

  • Zeb||

    I thought they belonged to themselves, but are held in trust by their parents until age 18.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    Seventh Inning Stretch!

    Well life on the farm is kinda laid back
    Ain't much an old country boy like me can't hack
    It's early to rise, early in the sack
    Thank God I'm a country boy

    Well a simple kinda life never did me no harm
    A raisin' me a family and workin' on a farm
    My days are all filled with an easy country charm
    Thank God I'm a country boy

    Well I got me a fine wife I got me an ole fiddle
    When the sun's comin' up I got cakes on the griddle
    Life ain't nothin' but a funny funny riddle
    Thank God I'm a country boy

  • Dweebston||

    I was genuinely expecting a barnyard animal molestation joke somewhere in the third stanza. I am disappoint.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    The Oriole bird is known for dancing with young girls.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

  • Dweebston||

    That thing is terrifying. And potentially racist.

  • LiveFreeOrDiet||

    I was genuinely expecting a barnyard animal molestation joke somewhere in the third stanza. I am disappoint.

    When this song was popular we made fun by singing:

    Well my sisters and I, we like to fiddle
    When my cousin comes 'round I poke her up the middle
    Got me some chooks and sheep that I diddle
    Thank God for Australia, boy!

  • From the Tundra||

    Barnyard molestation song:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zs0chuZN8Kc

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    "If you want to have your kid run amok 24 hours a day, go live out on a farm somewhere. This is a city and we are going to make sure that we keep our kids safe,"

    The arrogance of this cunt is astounding.

  • Dweebston||

    threaten their families with a $500 fine (just what an unstable household needs!)

    The best way to help children in awful domestic situations is to engender even more ill-will by slapping their parents with a steep fine.

    Also, if the kid's terrified of being home with pops or so truculent that she flaunts her parents’ curfew, how is leveling a financial threat on the parents suitable to address either condition? This sounds ripe for provoking domestic disputes.

  • JW||

    go live out on a farm somewhere

    Move out of the city. Got it.

    That's some premium mayoring there.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Baltimore City has a fine harbor, gets a jaw-dropping amount of state aid, is in a rich state where people fret about overdevelopment, and is not too far from the magic money fountain on the Potomac. It thus has every reason to be a glorious success. But it isn't, and there might be a reason.

  • ||

    Art Modell. Fuck Art Modell.

  • flye||

    A government demand for a collective return to farming can't possibly go wrong.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    I'm not going to sit by and allow our young people to be either perpetrators or victims of violence when everybody with any common sense knows they should be supervised by a responsible adult.

    As someone who grew up on a farm, we thought it was common sense that 13 year old don't need to be supervised by an adult every second of the day.

  • wareagle||

    according to the mayor, you farm folks were doing it wrong.

  • BCG||

    I grew up on a farm as well. There were LARGE portions of summer days when my parents had absolutely no clue where we were. We were definitely not "supervised". Yet we we were well taught, and responsible for ourselves, so it worked out well for all parties.

  • Brendan||

    What's really funny about this "responsible adult" thing is that parents and relatives are the ones most likely to victimize them and are quite likely a strong influence when they victimize people.

    It's also funny to allow teens to continue to be outside as long as they're with an adult, given that young teens rarely commit serious crimes alone. I don't think "supervision" by an adult accomplice is all it's cracked up to be.

  • LancelotLink||

    Bureaucrat A: So we've seen stats that suggest kids that stay out after 9pm come from broken homes, possibly being beaten and molested.

    Bureaucrat B: I have an idea! Let's force them to stay in the house longer because if they're not outside after 9pm, then they aren't from broken homes anymore! Chalk one up for the good guys. *high five*

  • Dweebston||

    From the Obamonomics playbook for affordable healthcare: fine the poor buggers, that should fix it.

  • ||

    I know I should be used to it by now, but the amount of contempt our betters display for us never ceases to amaze me.

  • Paul.||

    It's not contempt, it's love. Now, to be sure, it's not like a square's love.

  • WTF||

    Well, you gotta keep your pimp-hand strong.

  • Ken Shultz||

    These are the same people, presumably, who think that asking people to ID themselves before they vote is racist, but hassling inner city kids--who probably don't have IDs if they don't drive--is perfectly okay?

    Since when did they put an age restriction on the Fourth Amendment?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atS9LE8w2H4

  • Bubba Jones||

    When I was a kid I stayed out late because my girlfriend was naked.

  • Paul.||

    Don't Democrats outnumber Republicans 9 to 1 in Baltimore?

  • Raston Bot||

    b'more has Republicans? not likely.

  • NL_||

    Just seems more likely to make young kids run from cops, and therefore more likely for the cops to give chase and maybe hurt the kids in the process. The idea of "don't run if you have nothing to hide" won't apply, since every innocent curfew-violator running away may look to a cop indistinguishable from a shoplifter running away.

  • creech||

    As I recall, slavemasters in the antebellum South also had curfews on
    black folks. Sounds like the mayor is channeling that dude in Montana who got hammered for wondering if some black folks didn't have things better during the days of slavery and plantations.

  • ||

    Being chattle property of the government is WAAAAYY better.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "Go back where you came from, you buncha ignorant sharecroppers."

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Does the curfew apply to the Ravens?

  • Brendan||

    "If you want to have your kid run amok 24 hours a day, go live out on a farm somewhere."

    Yep, because anytime after 9pm equals 24 hours a day, and their mere presence outside is the same thing as them "running amok".

    No wonder Baltimore's a shithole.

    Quick Detroit, pass your own 9pm curfew for some teens and fix your city!

  • ReeceExaminer||

    This would be an excellent opportunity for teenagers to practice civil disobedience en masse.

  • poloniusium||

    Well, the police will help parent them by administering tear gas and beatings until the yutes become good citizens.

  • ||

    i live in Baltimore. and while i am most def NOT a fan of SRB, i'm also not a fan of damning the fearless leaders no matter what they do, or don't do. like it or not, many of the so-called parents of these kids don't give a single shit about them, and guess what? the kids know it.
    so if SRB sits on her hands & does nothing about a stupid situation, she's inept; and if she attempts to impose a curfew, attempts (against all odds) to get so-called "adults" to at least care about their own wallet (how will they ever get their nightly buzz on without the cash in hand?) then she's the second coming of Herr Hitler. I say pick them up, and when their "parents" come to get them out, lock the assholes up. Attention gotten.

  • HalJordan||

    Why are you on this site? I think a more effective strategy would be to stop giving incentives for the poorest people in the city to have the most kids. Why let children out until 9 at all right? Good kids should be inside any time they aren't in a government school. Any kids out after 4 pm should become wards of the state and taken from their parents. Let's kick it up a notch. GO DEMOCRATS!

  • HalJordan||

    So if you translate the political rhetoric, this law basically makes it illegal to be a black teenager after dark. I don't like my city being declared a war zone or this coon mayor passing clearly racist and discriminatory laws. You think kids playing lacrosse outside at 930 in Towson are going to be affected by this? On the one hand the poor blacks elected her so they get what they asked for, but on the other hand it's just so disgusting I can't turn a blind eye. Apparently democrats are so dumb they think all 14 year olds carry ID. This is carte blanche for every black kid 18 and under to be harrassed any time they're out after dark. Lets just turn the schools into schools/prisons and never let the kids out of the merciful protection of the government. Public boarding schools!

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement