Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Maxed out -In the sober light of the new year

I think it was one of those sage eastern philosophers – Confucius, or maybe his brother – who said, "Never strike back in anger.

I think it was one of those sage eastern philosophers – Confucius, or maybe his brother – who said, "Never strike back in anger." I can’t claim to have ever fully understood the sentiment, let alone the Deeper Meaning behind that statement but then again, I never understood what "Life is like a beanstalk, isn’t it?" meant either. I figured my lack of insight came from being born into a New World culture without the baggage of 3,000 years of history and, frankly, not really giving a hang about Deeper Meaning.

But travelling the road to what passes for wisdom in my life, I recently glimpsed what whomever mined that nugget of advice might have been trying to tell us. Tucked in among the forgotten resolutions of the New Year, lost in the white noise of thousands of holiday tourists, I would almost have missed it entirely had it not been slapped across the front pages of our country’s national newspapers and what passes for newspapers in Vancouver.


Damn, and I slept through it. Which, apparently, so did a lot of other people, including some sleeping in rooms not too far away from the heat of the action.

In the sober light of the morning after the night before, it turned out, well, how should we put this, someone over-reacted. There wasn’t actually a near riot. There was, more or less, a riotous snowball fight. And like so many snowball fights, this one escalated when some bad boys who still lack the "plays well with others" skills they should have picked up in kindergarten, started throwing ice balls or, lacking those, heaving chunks of ice at other people.

Like our mothers taught us, it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye and sure enough, someone got whacked hard enough to start bleeding and some innocent tree got in the way and lost a few limbs. This conflagration was clearly headed to a foreseeable end. Without the swift intervention of nearly a hundred Mounties, someone was probably just moments away from whipping out a personal nuclear device and turning Whistler Village into a glowing memory. Whew, dodged that one.

Trotting back to HQ in the near-dawn light of a new millennium, someone – it’s not exactly clear who but it is clear it wasn’t the Staff Sgt. Responsible for Incendiary Press Releases – traded his flak jacket for a word processor and dashed off a missive informing the world Whistler Village was once again beset by an angry mob and only the decisive action of the Doright troop saved the nation’s playground from the devastating fallout of a Near Riot.

As luck would have it, the press release went out in time to make the morning papers and people all over the country were able to tsk-tsk over their sobering morning coffee about the miscreants swarming Whistler. Unfortunately, the second press release, clarifying Whistler’s Near Riot was, on further reflection, a Very, Very Close to a Near Riot but Not Close Enough to be Too Near So We’re Downgrading it to a Scuffle status, didn’t make the front page. It did, however, make it to a small Correction box somewhere underneath the solution to that day’s Find the Hidden Word puzzle, right next to the ever-popular Winning Bridge hand.

Now, there is a school of thought that says any publicity is good publicity and I’m sure some people saw the headline and thought to themselves, "Cool." I’m not sure those are the people we want to actively encourage to come vacation here, but it’s too late to worry about that. However, I’m sure a lot of other people saw it and filed it away in their mental "places to avoid" file. And that’s a shame.

Fact is, most people had a great time on New Year’s Eve. Mostly the only people who didn’t were the people the cops were harrassing and, so it seems, the cops themselves. And that is the problem.

I don’t know who made the call to bring an extra 95 RCMP up for the evening. I don’t know who made the call to follow some asinine Zero Intelligence, er, Tolerance approach to alcohol. I don’t know who suggested searching people boarding muni buses to see if they were carrying alcohol. I don’t know who decided busting nearly a hundred people and shipping most of them off to Squamton and Pemberton holding cells was a good idea. But if they were all the same person, he/she should be ridden out of town on a rail.

Since I know that won’t happen, I would like to humbly call on muni council to collectively get off their butts, demand both an explanation and apology from the RCMP, and bring some sanity to this problem before next year’s celebration.

There are several realities at work here. For starters, let’s grow up about alcohol. New Year’s Eve is a time when a lot of people decide to celebrate, many to excess. There’s nothing wrong with letting them do it. Hell, we’ve invited them to come up here and do it and we even built them this quaint little playground to do it in. As long as they don’t do dumbass things like drive their car, hurt other people, or damage property why should we care if they waltz thorough the village swilling Piña Coladas?

Oh yeah, rules are rules, as last week’s letter writer pointed out. Bull. There are good rules and bad rules. There is good enforcement of rules and there is bad enforcement of rules. There is the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. Simplistic thinking is what leads to nonsense like zero intelligence and clearly, New Year’s in Whistler is no time for simplistic thinking.

Mixing a drunken group of revellers with a surly, overswollen contingent of police, a bunch of barricades, and an archaic attitude is a good recipe for a bad scene. That we avoided a riot – near or not – was a blessing we probably didn’t deserve.

So what’s the lesson?

People are going to party.

Police are going to try and enforce rules they should probably not be enforcing with too much diligence.

Some people want to enjoy an alcohol-free New Year’s celebration.

We don’t want the village trashed.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand a zero tolerance approach is going to severely clash with number one and lead to number 4. Nor is it impossible to provide accommodation for numbers one and three. Number two is going to be a problem as long as the cops come to town with the attitude they displayed this year but hey that’s why we have elected officials.

Now let’s see some action out of them.