What if you learned that a popular musical venue’s policy included a ban on pre-concert tailgating at shows that attracted a predominantly Black audience? Now then, what if you substituted the word “Black” for the word “young” in that statement? Would the policy invoke the same outrage and public outcry? Apparently not because the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which owns the PNC Bank Arts Center, is getting a pass for its tailgating policy for the upcoming 2008 concert season. Adding to the absurdity of this policy, tailgating will be allowed at concerts that attract a more mature audience. No matter how you slice it, the tailgating ban at some shows but not at others is discriminatory, ageist and highly hypocritical.
The policy is in direct response to the rash of underage drinking, subsequent number of arrests and more than a dozen hospitalizations that occurred during the 2007 summer concert season. Instead of dropping the hammer and banning all concert tailgating, authorities governing the venue have decided shows that attract mature crowds will be allowed to drink while tailgating. Apparently the old farts that come out to see Eric Clapton and James Taylor will be able to tailgate but those going to see a band like Rush on July 12th will not. What about a band like The Police coming to PNC Bank Arts Center August 3, 2008? Is that going to be a younger crowd or a more mature crowd? Even if you are over the age of 21, you still will not be able to tailgate at those concerts deemed “younger audience” shows. Sorry everyone. Want to tailgate before a concert at PNC Bank Arts Center? Please buy a ticket to Tim McGraw. Might as well install separate drinking fountains for “coloreds” while you are at it.
Who makes the call on which shows attract mature audiences and which shows attract the younger, more troublesome crowds?
This half-assed policy also begs the question, who makes the call on which shows attract mature audiences and which shows attract the younger, more troublesome crowds? Are they checking IDs at Ticketmaster or the box office before each show? What is the cut-off age that labels a concert a younger crowd or a more mature crowd? 25 and younger? How about 30 and younger? What if Hannah Montana books a show at PNC Bank Arts Center? Is that a “younger crowd” show? Under this policy, moms and dads can’t grill and have a few sodas in the parking lot with their five year-old prior to The Wiggles concert. After all, The Wiggles concert definately attracts a predominantly younger audience.
This policy is very vague and arbitrary and is outrageously discriminatory. Apparently no one but me has an issue with discrimination in 2008 whether it be racist, sexist or ageist. Discrimination is discrimination no matter how much window dressing you put on it and claim it is for the better good of the community. Just because it is young people being discriminated against does not make it any better than if it were a race, sexual orientation or religious group. Allowing one group to engage in an activity while banning it for another is discrimination, period.
There is a simple solution to this entire issue. Either ban tailgating at all shows at PNC Bank Arts Center or don’t ban tailgating at all. You can’t arbitrarily decide one set of shows is for young people and therefore they can not tailgate. Personal responsibility needs to take precedence here. Underage kids drinking before concerts should not preclude someone who is over 21 and tailgating responsibly from doing so. If underage and irresponsible drinking is such a problem, step up the police presence in the parking lot. Set up sobriety check points outside each exit of the venue. I am sure the minors in possession, drunk in public and DUI fines from a single “predominantly younger” concert could line the coffers of the local government quite nicely. Once word gets out that the local police and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority are taking underage drinking seriously, you will probably see a major decrease in problems at future “younger shows”.
This ridiculous policy is another in a long line of governmental regulations that have taken away our personal freedoms in the name of security and safety. You may not care about this issue because it does not affect you directly. You may not live in New Jersey and probably will never see a show at PNC Bank Arts Center. You may not care for the music that attracts the “predominantly younger crowds” and therefore the ban would not apply to you.
As a voice for the tailgating community, young or old, I am concerned with another policy aimed at preventing you and other people like you from doing what we love. Has it gotten so bad in America that personal responsibility has been taken away from us too?