Hundreds of young people are angered by MacArthur Mall’s new policy of excluding those under 18 years of age unless chaperoned by a Dirty Old Man or Cougar over 21. Really, what other kind of adult wants to hang at the mall with teens?
In all seriousness though, as an elder Libertarian, it warms my heart to see young people get organized and enthusiastic over almost any issue, as that is the seed from which future political activism will grow. However, ineffective protests lead to apathy if we get the idea that we are helpless to change things, so I will offer a few suggestions to make your activism more effective, and invite others with experience to do so as well.
While the new policy may be unfair, in the real world, fair doesn’t matter much to a business. The Mall is private property, and fair or not, it is within their rights to make their own policy. If you want to get their attention, you have to see the world from their point of view and change what they see. Businesses exist to serve the needs and desires of their customers. But you are not the Mall’s customers, the retail stores and services which are located at the Mall are the actual customers of the Mall. The Mall will respond to their demands, not yours, so, to be successful, you must get those businesses on your side.
So, target your efforts toward the businesses most likely to support your efforts, like the Cinema, food court, young fashion and electronics outlets. Remind them that you will not be teens forever and that if you establish relationships elsewhere for your shopping and entertainment now, you will not magically return to the Mall when you turn 18.
‘Taking-your-business-elsewhere’ is only effective if the businesses can measure their loss. One way to make that point would be to collect receipts from your group on purchases made elsewhere and periodically deliver them to the managers of the affected stores. Imagine the effect on the Cinema manager if you show up with a box of ticket stubs from other theaters collected from all the displaced teens and tell him you would rather have attended those movies in his theater but were banned. Imagine the manager of a ‘young fashion’ store looking at a box of receipts for clothing purchased elsewhere and wondering what his commission on those sales might have been.
I’d suggest assigning each of your members a store to contact and everyone saving the receipts and stubs for him to take the that store once a month.
Finally, think a bit about why this policy came to be. The Mall did not come up with the policy lightly. What are some teens doing that they might think discourages other customers? Of course, you have no control over bad behavior by others, but for your own part, when you go to the Mall, try to look like a customer. Businesses welcome customers. Take care not to make your protests confrontational. If you block access to businesses, that will be seen by the business owners as validating the Mall’s policy.
Good luck, and I sincerely hope this will be the start of a lifelong effort in the public arena. Lastly, I’d like to invite you all to visit with local Libertarians at our monthly meetings. You might well be just the young people we have been waiting for. See TidewaterLP.com for meeting details.