WINDSOR -- Hang the DJ, but don't piss off his mom. In the bedroom community of Lasalle, 20 minutes west of Windsor (if you do the speed limit), Brenda Hawtin could be any suburban mother.
Brunette, compact, maybe a little hipper than your average mom, she and husband Matt Hawtin have made a comfortable home for themselves here since the 70s.
Happy Buddha The well-kept yard and the lot that backs onto a wooded area are as calm and cozy as the happy Buddha statue near the driveway. Mind you, if your son were world-famous techno titan Richie Hawtin, aka Plastikman, you, too, might feel like your flesh and blood was under siege.
The rave crackdown now sweeping North America is enough to make an electronic-positive mom fierce. Mère Hawtin is especially furious at Windsor West MPP Sandra Pupatello and her private member's bill, The Raves Act 2000, which recently passed second reading at Queen's Park.
If it avoids the fate of most private member's bills and actually becomes law, it will probably be a feather in the cap of the person many see as the biggest threat to Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty.
While police chief Julian Fantino has been making life miserable for all-night partiers in Toronto, Pupatello has been on her own one- woman crusade, finessing a rave task force out of Windsor city council and presenting a five-minute video for parents and kids called Dancing In The Dark.
The video, featuring Ontario coroner Jim Cairns, uniformed and undercover cops, parents, teachers and kids, warns of the dangers of raves and drugs. And don't forget the private member's bill.
Fed up after attending the launch of Dancing In The Dark, Hawtin sent a letter to the Windsor Star. In it, she called on Pupatello to "lay off the rave crowd and put that energy into educating our kids and parents about life, drugs and parenting."
"I really did it for the parents," Hawtin tells me. "Drugs are certainly out there, apparently very accessible," and anyone who expresses shock that drug use goes on at the place where young people, music, and dancing intersect is either naive or cynical. When that person is a politician, charges of making hay on the back of an easy target should be expected.
"It's a political game," says Hawtin, but what's worse, she says, is that it's an intrusion into the parenting arena. Parents have to prepare kids for the many temptations that confront them well beyond the confines of the rave scene.
She wonders why Pupatello is singling out the techno scene. "I think she's watched (the movie) Footloose one too many times," says Hawtin.
"She kept on homing in on the raves." It's a sore point with Hawtin, given the fact that "kids who take illegal substances take them, rave or not. Unfortunately, drugs are widely available, from school grounds to public parks."
Her own sons, she says, weren't angels, "but they got through their teens all right, I think."
Edgy confidence Younger son Matthew, a visual arts grad, has designed cover art for his brother in addition to installations at major galleries.
Brenda Hawtin has the edgy confidence of someone who's sold real estate for 16 years.
"It's ironic, really," she says. "When I was pregnant with Richard, and Matt would be playing his music (Hawtin père turned Richie on to Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream at an early age), I would tell him, 'This kid's going to come out deaf or with his fingers in his ears.'"
Now, however, she's fed up with politicians and police chiefs slagging off the scene her firstborn is such an integral part of.
Sitting in a coffee shop just down the road from Platinum, an after- hours club in downtown Windsor, Pupatello tells me she thinks Richie Hawtin tries to promote safe raves. But of his mom she says, "Unfortunately, she's not getting it. I mean I'm not here to solve everybody's issues. I understand there's a vested interest for her -- it's her son's business."
Pupatello, for her part, feels she's straddling a fine line between "those who are on the far left of the spectrum, (who) want to do nothing" and the right wing "who want me to go much further in the bill-writing."
But surely these folks, left, right and centre, were young once. Did they, or Pupatello for that matter, in their reckless youths never smoke a joint or two at a bush party?
Asked directly, Pupatello admits to hitting the bush but declines to answer the joint question "on the grounds that my mom would be really upset with me."
If the bill becomes law:
cities province-wide will have the power to issue and revoke rave permits
authorities will be allowed on the premises of raves
municipalities can restrict where raves may be held
offending organizers and promoters will be liable to fines of up to $50,000
ravers who refuse to leave when asked by authorities could be subject to $5,000 fines