The Myth Of The Constitutional "Right To Party"

by Interchangeable Wall Street Journal Editorial Page Writer

From time to time The Awl offers its editorial space to those whose usual forums may be too crowded with similar material. Opinions are the writer’s own; the Awl does not endorse these opinions.

This week, an antiquated collective has returned to revisit the popular, long-held contention that we, as Americans, have a constitutional guarantee to party without fear of regulation. This attempt to hijack the national conversation is the work of aging agitators making a last-gasp effort to sow confusion and increase the potential for chaos on a national level. Once again, America is faced with a grim declaration from an interest group determined to “fight” for its right to party.

But this time, Americans are not lying down for this liberal absurdity. Instead, it is the quiet majority, newly invigorated by Tea Party calls for a nation of true constitutionality, that has called for a “fight.”

In 1986, when the penumbra emanated that partying was a right, strict consructionalists were forced to decide between expending efforts on what was essentially a domestic disturbance, or to put all political ammunition behind President Reagan’s increasingly successful crusade to destroy Communism. Three years later the Berlin Wall was torn down, just as Reagan had commanded.

While popular in the immediate years after its inception, the concept that every American has a “right” to party, and that they should take up arms in furtherance of that right, is an idea whose time has passed.

To be sure, there were kernels of sound policy despite the movement as a whole. For instance, an increasing number of teachers, unbound by the sensible accountabilities of the private sector, see themselves as “preachers” and children who do not buy in to their narrow worldviews as “jerks.” Is it any wonder then that American children “don’t wanna” go to school? Perhaps more alarmingly, their parents have little choice but to send them anyway. As the Alliance for School Choice stated, “We could not agree more that a fight is needed to empower parents, particularly those in low-income, urban families like the Boys’, to choose the education they determine is best for their children.” It seems in this regard, even the Boys can see that education reform, including parents’ right to choose, cannot wait.

That right-to-party supporters would immediately assume the posture of a “fight” is no surprise. Strong-arm tactics have never been feared by this group, as evidenced a mere three years later by a similar group of agitators, also from New York, who promoted a fight against “the power.” Knowing no bounds, even Saturday night has at times been deemed acceptable for such thuggery.

While the party rights’ partisans claim to be on the side of inclusion, their hypocrisy is laid bare by the very umbrella they have chosen to represent themselves: “Boys.” There will be no “girls” allowed to have these so-called “rights.” No Palins. No Bachmanns. No Haleys. For these great female American leaders, these “Boys” offer only roles in porno mags. That this group of freeloaders would counter with an assertion of the porno mags’ superior qualities does not in any way validate their argument.

Also, it should come as no surprise that, despite all the talk of “hypocrisy” about smoking, the “Boys” tacit endorsement of a certain illegal substance reputed for its ability to turn otherwise-virtuous women sexually compliant is doubly repugnant for its endorsement of a looser national border to the south.

In this time of renewed reverence to our nation’s most important document, no more leeway should be afforded citizens unwilling to take responsibility for their actions, to the cost of others.

It is telling that our Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, did not see fit to grant Americans a right to party. This was not because they were party poopers. No, the Founding Fathers were indeed quite festive. But they also understood that the freedom to smash a pie in a neighbor’s face also includes the liberty from having a pie smashed in one’s own face by a neighbor. Is it any surprise that the nation’s face-pie smashees would eventually tire of the free ride given the face-pie smashers?

As a matter of fact, our Founding Fathers guaranteed only our right to assemble “peaceably.” Never in American history has the destruction of private property been a right. Instead, far from granting any “right” to party, Article I, Section III of the Constitution states clearly, “The party… shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.”

Polls support this changed sentiment as well. Data amassed by the nonpartisan Institute for American Festivity show a full 62 percent of respondents believe partying should not be a right. This number jumps to 71 percent when polling for those “living at home.”

But as they dig their heels in to bitterly fight any significant reforms to, or even negotiations about, the “privilege” the rest of America affords these partygoers, it’s clear that this group of has-beens only understands when the volume is loud. The American public is responding, at the top of its voice: there is no license to ill.

Interchangeable Wall Street Journal Editorial Page Writer can knock out 800 words of typical right-wing propaganda dressed up with seemingly reasonable data in an hour, two hours tops.