Thursday, June 21, 2007
In a Nutshell...
RIGHTS. RIGHT. We first saw this news story on Fox & Friends, where all the hosts agreed that it was ridiculous to object to the noise little girls can make when they're disporting themselves in a swimming pool. Here's the press account.
William and Rachel Poczatek, who live in the village of Bayville, were hit with a notice of violation after neighbors complained about the couple's daughters, aged 5 and 11, who they said played too loudly around the family's backyard pool.
The couple is due in court Wednesday to face the charge of violating a noise code usually reserved for "the shouting and crying of peddlers, hawkers and vendors which disturbs the peace and quiet of the neighborhood.''
The penalty if convicted? According to the village code: $250 fine, 15 days in jail, or
both for each day the offense continued.
Rachel Poczatek, 43, said she didn't know how to solve the problem. "Should I muzzle my children?''
Neighbor Mark Kostakis, whose wife, Angie, is listed as one of the complainants on the summons, said he began making audio recordings of the children to document the noise. He said he spent three years complaining to the village and the Poczateks.
"This is it for me,'' he said. "I don't work 12 hours a day to come home and listen to this....''
"Should I muzzle my children?" Uh, if need be. Of course, the court decided otherwise:
It's what kids do: squeal in delight when they're having fun.
But to some Long Island residents those squeals were unwelcome noise, and they wanted two neighborhood girls playing in a backyard pool to pipe down.
The complaints fell on deaf ears Wednesday night when Bayville's acting village justice dismissed a summons accusing the girls' parents, William and Rachel Poczatek, of violating a village noise ordinance.
"I think the village did the right thing," William Poczatek said.
Poczatek said he was shocked when he and his wife were slapped with a summons. Sure, he said, Ashley, 11, and 5-year-old Chloe make noise when they're outside enjoying their aboveground swimming pool.
"What, are you telling me that a kid can't make noise?" he protested. "It's not fair."
Right. Full-grown adults can't possibly be expected to tell kids to pipe down and make it stick. It's just not possible. It hasn't been possible since the 1950s when the last parents who made any attempt to discipline their children were informed by Benjamin Spock and company that it's malicious parenting to make demands of children, to put them in their place as junior and subsidiary members of the family, and to spank them if they fail to learn basic lessons about how to behave in adult surroundings.
Since then, we've all been subjected to the trail of loud noises and broken things left by parents shuttling their unformed larvae through the homes and malls of America. In that time, most parents have learned not to apologize for the casual destruction their little darlings wreak and not even to attempt rectifying the damage they leave behind. Toddlers have become gods, and we're all supposed to accept their unprecedented divinity without question. It's bad form to object.
I object. Children are not angels. Uncorrected and undisciplined, they are monsters. Parents are not ladies-in-waiting. They are continuously responsible for the havoc their reproductive urges might inflict on the world. Little girls can be cute. Their glass-shattering shrieks are not cute. It's possible for children to have fun without requiring the evacuation of an entire city block.
Control your kids, people. The kids will be much the better for it. And so will the rest of us.
UPDATE. This is for J. I grant there's a generation gap here. I thought you might find it helpful to review an older InstaPunk entry from June 1960. Those were cruder times, but they had their compensations.