As someone who is not part of the 'Political Action Seminar Curfew Planning Team' and as someone who was initially skeptical of the virtue of such an enterprise, I find some of the statements made recently in letters and 'Citizens' Views' to include unwarranted attacks on my peers. The entire notion that those four juniors in high school are examples of 'overindulged' teenagers misses the point entirely.
This is not a case of teenagers attempting to allow decadence to last later into the night or to be given a longer timeslot in which to be irresponsible. Rather, four teenagers are questioning the role of local government and are utilizing our system in order to bring those questions to the forefront. It is an exercise in civics and community action, something we should not condemn of our kids. Instead, we should be praising an application of what they have learned in our public schools about their rights. The controversy indicates that our community and our school system is churning out well-educated individuals. The well-educated person doesn't give the easy and preferred answers; the well- educated questions to obtain answers of greater consideration:
Should the city consider it 'unlawful' and a 'civil violation' for those under the age of 18, breaking no other laws, to be outside after an arbitrary time? Why should the city have to play the role of the parent and what are the consequences of such a mindset? Are there vague clauses in the ordinance that could lead to abuse? Is this 'substantive due process' based on age?
We should be proud that a small group of students are able to probe our city into such vital questions, not just of civic logistics but of right, wrong, and responsibility. They are not 'overindulged'; they wish for teenagers to be held accountable for their behavior. They believe that parents should parent and not the city. They cap it off with the postulate that the city should be held accountable for what a court could potentially deem an abusive and intrusive ordinance. So, lets have a dialogue as a city, not a dialogue facilitated by a city bureaucracy that doesn't take the stance seriously or members of a community that simply react negatively to four teenagers' attempted involvement in what manages their affairs, but a dialogue in which teenagers are seriously engaged as responsible citizens. Both the courts and the editorial page must be the forum for this sort of dialogue.
Jeremy Rozansky, Lake Oswego, is a junior at Lake Oswego High School.