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Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 09/ 1/2010

Stop treating teenagers like insects

By Dan Malouff

Do teenagers have a right to be in the city? Are they entitled to use the Metro? Are movie theaters and ice cream parlors reasonable places for them to hang out?

Herbert Miller, the developer of Gallery Place, answered "no" to all those questions when he recently installed a "mosquito device" at the Chinatown entrance to the Gallery Place Metro station. The "mosquito" emits a high-pitched squeal that people older than about 25 can't hear, but gives teenagers headaches. The idea was to discourage teens from coming anywhere near the heart of one of the city's busiest entertainment and transit destinations.

What a despicable thing to do.

Putting aside the most obvious criticism, that teenagers have as much right to public infrastructure like the Metro as anyone, just where exactly does Miller expect teenagers to go if not public entertainment districts like Gallery Place? If teens aren't allowed to congregate there, just where are they allowed to congregate? Only in special teenager ghettos? Mom's basement? Nowhere?

Discrimination against an entire group of people because of the actions of a few bad apples is not acceptable. It is harmful to the long-term well-being of society to tell an entire generation that they are not welcome in good company.

Until the mosquito comes down, I won't be spending any more of my money at Gallery Place. I urge other responsible adults in Washington to make the same promise.

Dan Malouff is an Arlington County transportation planner who blogs independently at The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Dan Malouff  | September 1, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, Local blog network, Metro, transportation  
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And how does the Mosquito fare when the teenager is listening to a portable player or on headphones chatting???

Maybe Miller isn't just a miserable curmudgeon but not very smart in other ways?

Posted by: JohnSutton1 | September 1, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps he does find humans in their larval stage to be objectionable, or worse, cheap.

Posted by: krickey7 | September 1, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

"A few bad apples"? I am completely outted yourself on that one. You've obviously never used that metro exit, or walked through that area. It is teeming with teen/young twenty pickpocketers, obnoxious and destructive loiters etc...

The range on that mosquito is less than 50' and is focused at the top of the escalator at store entrances. There is no inalienable right for otherwise unoccupied or undisciplined kids/teens to congregate wherever or whenever and disrupting everyone else.

Lesson? Loiter elsewhere. There is ~300 acres of completey open national park available 24/7, not 2 metro stops, or a 10 minute walk away.

Posted by: Nosh1 | September 1, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Actually I'm there pretty frequently (although I won't be anymore), and have never thought "teeming with young people" was a problem. Certainly not one big enough to warrant treating them like scum.

The "few bad apples" are in regards to the fight from a few weeks ago that was mentioned in the original Post article.

Posted by: Dan Malouff | September 1, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Malouff should get his facts straight. The mosquito at Gallery Place can be heard by all ages. I'm well over 50 and can hear it readily. It discourages people from blocking retailers' entrances by loitering in front of stores. It is not discriminatory and Gallery Place is private property that is open to the public - not a public infrastructure. Many of the loiterers are in the 40+ age group. They are as much of a nuisance as the younger set. People who are passing through the area probably don't even notice the mosquito; it is only a bother to people who linger in an area that is critical to the businesses who are trying to make an honest living. There is nothing despicable about that.

Posted by: Challenger3 | September 1, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

The mosquito device may be located on private property but is, from what I gather directly over a very public resource. I also go through the area often and I've never felt unsafe around any individual around Gallery Place. Not to mention I don't think I've ever been there and not seen at least one policeman/cruiser (usually there are many more).
Besides, me being from a rural area I've always thought it was cool that teens in DC like to go to an area just to hang out and take in the scene. That's something I didn't get to often as a kid unless we were inside a mall so I appreciate the fact that these kids are outside. There has got to be a better way to even teach the bad apples proper civic behavior rather than trying to wholly ban all teens/those who still have good hearing.

Posted by: cmerchan | September 1, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Those aged 18-24 are also adults and not "kids" and not "teens", meaning they shouldn't be called those words. Mosquito devices are an erosion to human rights because the purpose of those devices is to oppress, specifically kick out young women, young men, girls and boys out of an area. Herbert Miller is an ageist. The government of Washington, D.C. should pass a law which prohibits the usage of mosquito devices. Ageism is discrimination like racism and homophobia.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | September 1, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Dear Dan,

I have just read your article regarding the Mosquito and where Teens are allowed to hang out.

I am the VP i guess you guys would say of the company in the UK who manufacture the device.

Of course teens have a right to be in any public place. It is a basic human right, however, what they do NOT have a right to do is act in an anti-social manner that offends or worries other members of the public. THey also should not be fighting, something which has occured on a large scale at this location.

We don't know where this particular Mosquito was purchased, however, here at CSS Ltd. we take extraordinary actions to ensure that these devices are used responsibly. Even to the point of removing units being used inappropriately.

The Mosquito's should ONLY be activated to disperse groups of teens who are causing problems in such areas and NOT 24/7. It has never been the intention to make any area a 'NO GO' area.

I would also like to clarify that the sound does NOT cause headaches or any other physical effects. It does NOT work because it is loud, it works over a period of 10 - 20 minutes because it is simply annoying.

Kind regards,

Si Morris
Commecial Director
Compound Security Systems Ltd.

Posted by: simon9 | September 2, 2010 3:51 AM | Report abuse


while very polite, I don't believe your post. If a teen has a right to be in a public place... how does a machine that emits a continous annoying sound that forces them to leave said place not an enfringment on their right to be there.

This sounds does not "emit at" specific individuals that are acting in anti-social ways. It emits at everyone - everyone who can hear it. I am over 25, and I can hear it. So your device then acts in an anti-social harming way against all who can hear it.

Sorry to say, but that is an enfringment of the rights of citizens to freely assemble. These devices should be removed and made illegal until they can be made effective for their proper use: to deter offenders, not all persons.

Posted by: Greent | September 2, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I don't see it as discrimination, rather a tool to keep young people moving and from congregating/blocking the walkways, increasing business. It's only when they stand for a long period of time that it starts to annoy. It's brilliant. It's like riding on metrorail...the annoying sounds leaking from young people's headphones causing an irritant to other riders. Payback time. Do they make a portable model? ;)

Posted by: CalmTruth | September 2, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Dan, you totally misrepresent (and possibly misunderstand) what is going on here. The idea is not to "discourage teens from coming anywhere near the heart of one of the city's busiest entertainment and transit destinations"; the idea is to discourage teens from congregating at that particular location, which is perfectly reasonable. It's an entry/exit to the metro station and a busy pedestrian intersection - in other words, a place you want people moving through as opposed to standing in. As a "transportation planner" you should understand this concept.

If teens want to go to Gallery Place and see movies, shop, get food, they can and this new device does nothing to discourage that. But if they want to stand around on a street corner then I guess they'll have to find a different one. It's not like there are no other street corners in the city.

Posted by: gasdorian | September 2, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

$113 billion is spent on marijuana every year in the U.S., and because of the federal prohibition *every* dollar of it goes straight into the hands of criminals. Far from preventing people from using marijuana, the prohibition instead creates zero legal supply amid massive and unrelenting demand.

According to the ONDCP, at least sixty percent of Mexican drug cartel money comes from selling marijuana in the U.S., they protect this revenue by brutally torturing, murdering and dismembering countless innocent people.

If we can STOP people using marijuana then we need to do so NOW, but if we can't then we need to legalize the production and sale of marijuana to adults with after-tax prices set too low for the cartels to match. One way or the other, we have to force the cartels out of the marijuana market and eliminate their highly lucrative marijuana incomes - no business can withstand the loss of sixty percent of its revenue!

To date, the cartels have amassed more than 100,000 "foot soldiers" and operate in 230 U.S. cities, and Arizona police are now conceding that parts of their state are under cartel control. The longer the cartels are allowed to exploit the prohibition the more powerful they're going to get and the more our own personal security will be put in jeopardy.

Posted by: jway86 | September 3, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

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