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Beach Grit

Bloodfeud Update: Angry Locals Join In!

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

Is child abuse ever the answer?

Oh how quickly the internet moves! Just three hours ago I published a piece talking about the territory dispute between sharks and radioactive waste in Orange County, only to discover that there is a third party involved. They refer to themselves as “Aging Creek Rats” and reside, apparently, somewhere in the Dana Point region.

How did the Aging Creek Rats throw their hat in the ring? By dunking (and “stabbing”, if you ask the mom) an overzealous preteen at Salt Creek beach! I’ll let Ryan Divel, an Orange County local and ex industry big-wig, paint the picture:

While Divel has made his position clear, this remains a tricky subject. How does one deal with a child who, based on many accounts, has been disrespectful in the lineup? Is it the job an anonymous adult to not only scold, but use physical force to deter the kid’s misdeeds?

I think not.

People often moan about how kids were more respectful back in the day, how they “knew their place in the lineup”, which may very well be true. But is this not similar to how black people “knew their place” in the ’50s? We live in a time where it’s no longer acceptable to segregate based on race, to hit somebody’s kids.

I would’ve hoped that was a widely approved progression, but apparently not.

The overwhelming majority of commenters in Divel’s Facebook post are pro-hazing, anti-child-safety laws. This is concerning but also speaks to surfing’s unique and violent history. The ocean is one of the last places where Jungle Rules still apply, and it seems the mission of most Baby Boomers to keep it that way.

Some of the top comments include:

 I’m going to come out of retirement just to snake this kook.

Sorry I’m not a round to hold it down any more 👊

A snowflake mouths off, gets dealt with, and his mommie comes to the rescue with the entire o.c.sheriff squad ? So wrong on multiple levels.. LOCALS ONLY, BEAT IT GROM!

One could easily assume most of these overgrown children were Trump supporters, but using the term “snowflake” non-ironically is conclusive evidence. On the bright side, their mindset reminds me of a favorite quote from Czech-French author Milan Kundera:

In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine.

Isn’t that wonderful?

Now, while I do believe that adults, locals, and any combination of the two should be given reasonable deference in the lineup, in no way does the opposite justify a physical response against a child. Even if just a dunking.

If London is as disrespectful as Divel (and many of the commenters) make him out to be, then it’s time to speak with the parents. By physically harassing a kid and then shaming him on social media, you’re not only breaking the law, but you’re blaming the wrong person.

Ian Cairns delivered his two cents, here:

Maybe promoting #snakelondon is not the correct way to de-escalate the problem. Maybe hazing groms is not acceptable anymore. Maybe accepting the long-time practice of ‘locals’ owning a surf spot is a little archaic. Yeah, sure London needs to chill a little, but he’s no different than thousands of other groms,” responded Cairns on the thread. “What if an ‘elder’ was proposing a worldwide vendetta on your kid? And it was being acted out in front of your eyes? Is it right? London and his family are good people. And maybe they are here to help us re-evaluate the hierarchal structure that condones this kind of bullying. But be certain, they are not going away, they will be calling the cops on anyone that lays hands on their kids and it will bring a public spotlight on petty localism in CA. Are you willing to step up and be an agent of positive change?

This, to me, is the most rationale response. Show the kid how he can improve, urge the parents to instill better values, but Jesus, don’t resort to child abuse or online bullying.