While cooking dinner, my doorbell rang. I predicted another young person, probably a college-aged girl, asking for signatures for a petition and probably money. I got it almost right. Almost.
“Hi.” said a college-aged girl. Suddenly addressing a blind person probably throws most of these people off guard. They don’t know quite how to deal with it. She introduced herself, and a few seconds later so did a guy with her. They had come to collect signatures for a petition. For some time now, Swarthmore College has wanted to build a hotel. This would give parents a place to stay, as well as supply the town’s economy with money. It seems they have a little problem though.
Founded by quakers, Swarthmore has remained a dry town. You cannot purchase a drop of alcohol within the borough’s borders. Now the college wants to build a hotel which will serve alcohol. They have attempted to get a special regulation allowing them to do this while the rest of the town remains dry. The petition seeks to put the question on the ballot in May whether Swarthmore should remain totally dry or totally permissive. They made the argument that the college should not have a special right and I agree.
I don’t drink. I think it makes people act stupid, and prefer not to hang around people drinking. Some may then find it puzzling that I would sign such a petition. I must stick to my libertarian principles here. Even though I do not drink, I fully support other people’s right to do so. I just ask for the same in return. I also support the true free market.
Of course, it also gives one a way to thumb their nose at Swarthmore College and its bureaucracy. Mind you, they have pissed off locals many times before this. They held up the Blue Route for twenty years, and built a parking lot over a field which I played on as a child. I can still remember my brother and I, probably around age seven and nine, going over and singing protest songs, which we made up on the spot. Once again they have flexed their muscle. Will they succeed?
After I made these mental decisions, I stuck out my hand as an indication I wanted to pick up the pen and sign. The girl seemed right on, but I suspect the guy may have started drinking already, perhaps to help ward off the cold February night. Having campaigned for Ron Paul in 2008, I know a drunken activist when I see one. He slowly lifted up the clipboard and I picked up the pen. “Oh…. uhh do you need assistance?” he asked. I indicated that I did. “Here sign right……here….” He moved the pen around. I figured good enough and started scribbling my signature. “Try to keep it horizontally on the line.” he said, sounding a little surly. That kind of pissed me off, but it did support my theory. I do well enough to make the signature in the first place.
I asked if they actually wanted to print my name. I gave it, and my street address. After I gave the house number and street, he paused expectantly. “Swarthmore. Pennsylvania.” his female friend helpfully suggested. We both started laughing. I think she knew. After arduously getting down my info, I asked if they had anything online. SHe said they didn’t. They do now. I wished them luck on their petition. I felt glad to actually get something of real local interest, not just another organization asking for money.
The moral of the story: Don’t drink while circulating petitions.