Fiona Ma’s tenure in the California State Assembly was marred by failed attempts to legislate her own grievances away. Whether it’s changing traffic laws to benefit her commute or trying to regulate plasticized corpses out of our science museums, time and time again, Fiona Ma seems more motivated by personal grievances than a groundswell of public support.
But there are times when Fiona Ma has been motivated to legislate for reasons beyond her own self-interest. Like the one time she tried to ban raves because raves were in the news. Google rave controversies, and there you’d find Fiona Ma’s name, bravely tilting at windmills for everyone to see.
Look, that kind of legislature whoring is nothing unique to Fiona Ma. Hell, I even called Mike Gatto out for it when he shamelessly tried to attach his name to “affluenza,” the buzz word of that moment, by proposing a law that restricted judges from considering that legal argument. Look, Mike Gatto’s an attorney, and he knew there was no way in hell the courts would accept state assemblymen telling them what arguments they could or couldn’t consider. But passing the law wasn’t the point. The point was to surf the wave of somebody else’s bad P.R. and make himself look like a hero to anyone looking.
So that was the case in 2011, when Fiona Ma tried to ban raves at public event spaces like the LA Colosseum. To understand this cynical, reactionary attempt at costly government overreach, we first need to step back.
In 2011, there were two high profile instances of ecstasy overdoses at LA raves. In total, three people died.
Yes only three people were killed. Three… as in slightly more than two and slightly less than four. Tragic, yes, but not quite the health epidemic that staircases present, as nearly a thousand people die every year from tripping on stairs.
Regardless of logic, practicality and cost, Fiona Ma saw an opportunity to get her name in the press, so she cobbled together a deeply flawed piece of legislation known as the Anti-Rave Act of 2011 (AB-74), which was met with obvious and deserved backlash.
Rumors swirled that Ma had withdrawn the bill after it disappeared from legislative agendas, but she insisted it was still alive and that soon it would come roaring back. And it eventually did, but by then, the bill had been so watered down that there really wasn’t any point to its existence.
Instead of her proposed ban on raves at public spaces, Fiona Ma’s AB-74 ultimately required that “If the state agency determines that, based on the facts presented to it in the assessment, there is a strong probability that loss of life or harm to the participants could occur, then the state agency shall require the promoter to prepare an event action plan.”
Yep. That’s the sum total of her year of work on that bill. If an inspector thinks someone could get hurt, then an organizer has to write an “action plan.” That’s it. So back in the real world, here’s how Fiona Ma’s dumbass new law would have played out in the case of three people out of millions dying because of ecstasy overdoses…
INSPECTOR: Do you have an ‘action plan’ if someone overdoses on ecstasy?
EVENT PLANNER: Yes, we will call the EMT’s.
Hahaha. Dumbasses are so funny! But that whole process probably cost California tax payers a few million bucks. Still laughing?
A side note: at one point, Fiona Ma announced that she’d be doing her own research into rave culture by attending one herself. I’m not sure if she ever actually did, or of that was more public relations showboating, but in an interview with San Francisco Weekly, she seemed totally fucking clueless about what a rave actually is, claiming they’re full of “people walking around like zombies, sleeping all over, lying all over the floor, vomiting in the corners, vomiting in the bathrooms … people lying in their own urine.”
Yep, she sounds like an accountant’s perspective on partying.