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Op-Ed: Knuckleheads

By Smoky Weiner

I don’t like it when someone uses words to manipulate people. I don’t like misleading statements, jingoism and obfuscation of the truth and I really hate it when someone creates a scapegoat to further his own ambition. I just read a mailer that was sent to everyone on Sullivan’s Island and boy did it tick me off. It’s a long winded note that claims to be from “just another knucklehead coming home to live on Sullivan’s Island”. What it says is that a law should be passed to ban amplified music after midnight. According to this ridiculous letter, “Everyone knows that binge drinking amongst young people is exploding with tragic and even fatal results”. It goes on to say, “To invite this behavior onto the island and then ramp it up with late night music and alcohol is to court disaster”. It goes on further to say that music should be banned after midnight because “that seems to be the cut off point that may keep things sane and it’s the only thing that we never tried”. The author wants people to write or e-mail him, but only if they agree with him and will sign his petition! He then closes the letter by trying to wax poetic about the cooing doves and washing surf and the blows of porpoises which we will again hear if only this devilish music will stop at midnight.
It turns out that this guy sent anonymous letters to Awendaw residents before he started sending anonymous letters to all of Sullivan’s residents. This fellow must have really good hearing! In this last letter, he says he’s sorry for his earlier anonymity. He says in one sentence that he’s writing not as a politician, but because he’s just a regular “knucklehead” who comes home to Sullivan’s and that it’s too rowdy for him, but he brags in another line that he helped form the Awendaw Community Action Group! Well, are you a “knucklehead” or a politician?

I guess all those people from “off” (myself included) just don’t understand how terrible it is when you go out to the beach after midnight to listen to the doves and porpoises and washing surf, but all you can hear is that rotten music drowning out all the nature. It’s disgusting. This guy must be a noted sociologist too! He says that right now, binge drinking is exploding amongst the young, Sullivan’s Island is inviting it, and late night music and alcohol “ramp up” this new scourge on the youth. I suppose that alcohol does “ramp up” binge drinking. It’s just not the same as binge drinking prune juice, although it sounds to me like he’d benefit from doing that. No, it sounds to me like a certain concerned ordinary Joe “knucklehead” who is from both Sullivan’s Island and Awendaw, and whose phone number starts with a New York City area code, must be planning to run for some kind of office in the future. He just wants to be a leader, so he starts a cause and invents an arbitrary ordinance.

Trouble is, you can’t change behavior by limiting people’s access to art. You can’t claim cause and effect based on nothing but your own say-so and it is not right to cause monetary damages – yes, let me repeat the word “damages” – to the bar owners, musicians, bartenders and other people with standing in a case like this because you think it might influence people’s behavior in a way that would please you. Music is art, art is expression and freedom of expression is not to be messed with in America. People have the right to hear music after working all week and musicians have a right to practice their trade and their art. The bar owner and his staff have a right to make money and they have to break their necks just to stay afloat in this town. This “knucklehead” doesn’t even say the music is keeping him awake, he says he doesn’t like the people it brings! I, for one am positively wounded.

Don’t let someone with possible ulterior motives mess with your freedom. There are already plenty of perfectly good laws on the books about disturbing someone’s peace, etc. Why should music be forcibly shut down at a time of one person’s choosing, especially when the only reason given is that “we haven’t tried it yet”. I have been playing clubs for many years and I would say that the people peter out as the night gets later and the music usually stops at 1am anyway. Stopping it at midnight might very well increase drinking and driving and put everyone out there at the same time; I don’t really know. More to the point, this guy doesn’t know either. He has zero experience, zero professional knowledge and absolutely no real statistics or studies that would support his theories, let alone prove them. Beware of people with ulterior motives and a bulk mail permit. Why would you bother to get a bulk mail permit? They cost hundreds of dollars. You’d have to be a “knucklehead” …

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