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27 Month Sentence for Serving 16 year olds beer:

As soon as I get a chance, I'm going to write to Gov. Kaine and ask him to commute this sentence. Geez, I remember plenty of beer being available at various Sweet Sixteens I attended (when the drinking age was 18), and exactly no harm came of it.

UPDATE: I didn't mean to suggest that no harm can come out of serving minors alcohol, but rather that it's not such an obviously harmful activity as to justify such a draconian sentence. I doubt, for example, many first time DUIs get anything approaching 27 months.

Further Update:
The couple were charged with 16 misdemeanor counts, however, it was later discovered that seven of the kids at the party had no alcohol in their system. Of the remaining nine who did have alcohol in their system, none were found to be over the legal limit for intoxication.

The couple pleaded guilty to nine counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, and the prosecutor had recommended they get a 90-day sentence. However, the judge was furious about the recent death of one of Ryan's classmates at the local high school from an alcohol-related crash. He decided to make an example of them and sentenced them both to eight years.

This is a bit misleading, because the "legal limit" for minors is zero. Nevertheless, this does show that the parents weren't exactly running a wild, out-of-control drinking party. If the prosecutor, as he claims, really thinks this is the "worst case of underage drinking that he's dealt with in 15 years of prosecuting," then he either lives in a really tame county, or, more likely, underage drinking is rarely prosecuted there. But at least he recommended a much more reasonable 90 day sentence. And I don't see what Ryan's classmate's death has to do with the parents' culpability. I've never been a fan of "making an example" out of some hapless defendant who happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Oren (mail):
Here's hoping that he listens.

//sad

PS. I consistently wonder how the police manage to bust these things up. "No officer, you cannot come into my house" works fairly well in most parts.
6.14.2007 1:14pm
FantasiaWHT:
A) There were children as young as 12 at this party.

B) It's not reported in this report of the story, but the parents also lied to other parents who called and asked them if there would be alcohol at the party (you know, doing what responsible parents should do- checking up on the parties their kids go to)

C) I have never in my life bought the "I was being a responsible parent by providing a safe place for them to drink; they're going to drink anyway, why not at a place I can keep them safe?" It's such an enabling cop-out.

D) Parents who think this way need to be fearful of serious consequences as a deterrent.
6.14.2007 1:15pm
Oren (mail):
A) OH NOES!

B) Given how tightly wound some parents are these days, this might be the better choice. I never understood the conception that parents ought to be aware of 100% of their teenaged children's doings. "Checking up" is a neat codeword for having no life of your own. My folks pretty much let me loose after 15 and I turned out just fine.

C) Much better for them to drink in the park/woods/malls and drive home.

D) The only two lessons to be learned here are:
1) Keep everyone away from the front door
2) When the police knock, tell them to get a warrant or get lost (worked for me!)
6.14.2007 1:37pm
Joshua Macy:
Why do the parents that think that way need to be fearful of consequences more serious than other parents scorning them and refusing to let their kids attend parties at their house? I'm not seeing the harm here requiring anywhere near that level of deterrent.
6.14.2007 1:41pm
Erasmus (mail):
FantasiaWHT, perhaps the should be some punishment, but 27 months?
6.14.2007 1:42pm
Porkchop:
While I think that the sentence was excessive, I can't agree that the conduct was harmless.

I had to have a heart-to-heart discussion with a "responsible parent" who served alcohol to his daughter's underage friends in the privacy of his home on the theory that he was keeping them from drinking in more dangerous places. I found out about it late one night when a male voice on my daughter's cell phone identified himself as a police officer with my daughter in his custody. The "responsible parent" and his wife had gone out of town and his daughter invited 40 of her closest friends over to drink beer.

The discussion was simple: "I don't care what you think. You don't serve my kid alcohol; you especially don't do it behind my back. My kid will not ever enter your home or socialize with yours ever again unless I have your word that you will not serve alcohol to any minor including your own while my daughter is in your home. If I ever find out that you have broken your word, I will be on you like white on rice, and I won't rest until I see you prosecuted."

He thought he was teaching responsibility. He wasn't.

The discussion with my daughter was equally simple -- you're grounded until I say different, and if you are ever caught drinking again, you are grounded for life.

I guess everybody learned something. At last week's prom, his daughter and her "friends" (my daughter is no longer among them) were heavily intoxicated -- to the point of being sick and in some cases parents had to come and retrieve some of them. I didn't get any calls, and from all reports, my daughter had a good time.
6.14.2007 1:47pm
Justin (mail):

C) I have never in my life bought the "I was being a responsible parent by providing a safe place for them to drink; they're going to drink anyway, why not at a place I can keep them safe?" It's such an enabling cop-out.

It's a cop-out, because its....true?
6.14.2007 1:49pm
Ben Pollitzer (mail):
I've personally witnessed a similarly extreme sentence. Or at least I believed it to be so at the time.

Granted the circumstances were quite different.

This particular individual was 22 and most of the individuals involved were 18-20, and considerably more than $350 dollars of alcohol were at issue. He voluntarily took responsibility for the alcohol at this social gathering, and was subsequently charged with 40+ counts of serving alcohol to minors as an example.

The sentence was assessed in a similar way, some amount of time per sentence, and If I recall correctly he was given 72 months in prison. Although I've heard subsequently that he served less than half of it before being released.


With the children in this case being 16, I'm a little more torn. I do see some very valid arguments for ensuring adults don't feel free to break laws regarding controlled substances. But assuming that the laws making it illegal for those between 18 and 21 to possess or consume alcohol have much more than a marginal effect on the behavior of those individuals seems kind of blinding oneself to the facts.
6.14.2007 1:52pm
Mark Bahner (www):
"Geez, I remember plenty of beer being available at various Sweet Sixteens I attended (when the drinking age was 18), and exactly no harm came of it."

Geez, George Burns smoked cigars constantly until he was 100, and no harm came of it.

P.S. This is not to say your point about the amount of the sentence isn't valid. Perhaps I'm particularly sensitive to anecdotal extrapolations since a friend of my sister's was killed while a passenger in a vehicle driven by an underaged drinker.
6.14.2007 1:56pm
Aultimer:
It's all part of the nanny-state mentality the the Repubs and Dems have grown so fond of. Alcohol can now only be "abused" or avoided - there's no room for discussion of responsible use. It's a tired canard, but it's entirely nuts to believe an 18 year old is fit to take a job killing America's enemies but unfit to use any alcohol responsibly for several years.
6.14.2007 1:58pm
Seamus (mail):
While I think that the sentence was excessive, I can't agree that the conduct was harmless.

While I agree that the conduct was not harmless, I think the sentence was waaaaay excessive.
6.14.2007 1:59pm
Ben Pollitzer (mail):
Regarding demanding the police have a warrant.

From experience working with the legal clinic here. (one thing they do is a lot of misdemeanor defense work in a college town) A common practice of the police regarding such situations is, if the person who answers the door appears to be intoxicated, they arrest that individual for being intoxicated in public, and subsequently proceed into the house on the pretense that they're sweeping it.

That, or most college students (and especially intoxicated college students) lack the knowledge or courage to tell a police officer who demands to know if people are drinking in the house that they cannot come in.

Older parents might be presumed to know better, but it's still easy to be cowed by a police officer.
6.14.2007 2:00pm
spider:
Why are folks so quick to accept that for teenagers, it is axiomatic that fun=alcohol? I agree with Fantasia's point about the "enabling cop-out", and I would argue that a truly responsible parent should model behavior that severs the above equality. Where do you think teenagers get the idea that drinking is cool? [OK, besides the endless Bud Light ads on TV.]

I know that probably puts me at an extreme position from the rest of the Volokh readership (I'm fairly libertarian in most other matters, though), but I rather like the 27 months in this case.
6.14.2007 2:08pm
Peter Young:
The sentence is outrageous. A fine and probation perhaps.

The parents are not the only ones being punished. Their son will be deprived of his parents for the rest of his minority. I read another story somewhere saying he is consumed by guilt because the party was for him.

The law is the law, but let's leave some room for considerations of justice and mercy.
6.14.2007 2:08pm
FantasiaWHT:
Joshua, I can think of a lot more serious consequences than that which you describe, such as potential liability for any alcohol-related accidents or injuries and consequences that may spring from openly encouraging your children and other children to break the law (granted, they weren't breaking the law by serving their own children alcohol if this particular state allows that).

Erasmus, I admit it's hard to accurately pinpoint how much deterrent is "enough" based on one example. Watch this community in the future and see if the number of arrests for this type of incident declines, and if it does, you have a fair idea that this was "enough" (but it still won't tell you if less would be just as effective). Even knowing that, though, I'm inclined to err on the side of bringing the heavy end of the hammer down hard on any activity you want to seriously deter.
6.14.2007 2:16pm
whackjobbbb:
Sure, bring the hammer down, but this is a pretty big hammer.
6.14.2007 2:19pm
Prufrock765 (mail):
Did either of these defendants have any criminal history?
Did they inform any of the parents of the attendees that the kids would be given alcohol?
Who serves alcohol (I mean to kids) at a 16th birthday???? this surely is not anywhere close to a majority custom.
$12 of alcohol per kid is a case of beer (if you buy it by the can) per kid...or 4 gallons of beer per kid if you buy by the keg....What the hell?
I drank alcohol after I turned 18, but was never served by a friend's parent and I bore all the responsibility for my actions...
the defendants got 6 months (3 months in jail, so they will serve 45 actual days) per kid who blew positive...
Maybe that is a little steep....but I am shocked at how blithely commenters on here are about this behavior...

The defendants committed at least 3 wrongs here---they gave the kids alcohol...they encouraged incorrigiblity in those kids whose parents would have objected (I assume that this set has a nonzero number of members)...and they encouraged a disrespect for the law in these kids.
6.14.2007 2:22pm
FantasiaWHT:

It's a cop-out, because its....true?


No, being a responsible parent is NOT throwing illegal alcoholic parties for your child and your child's friends. I suppose it's more responsible than getting your child and his friends illegal ID's and telling them to go have a party at a bar, in the same way that giving a toddler a loaded BB gun is more responsible than giving a toddler a glock.
6.14.2007 2:27pm
John C (mail):

From experience working with the legal clinic here. (one thing they do is a lot of misdemeanor defense work in a college town) A common practice of the police regarding such situations is, if the person who answers the door appears to be intoxicated, they arrest that individual for being intoxicated in public, and subsequently proceed into the house on the pretense that they're sweeping it.


Isn't that a violation of the Fourth Amendment? If the person steps out of the house (thereby being "in public"), does that not remove from the police to enter the house to conduct a search incident to arrest? Such sweeps of the house are permissible for in-house arrests (Maryland v. Buie), but if the person is out of the house, doesn't that mean the police may not enter? Is there some sort of "person standing in an open door" rule that allows police to enter?
6.14.2007 2:29pm
Mike Keenan:
By shielding children so categorically from alcohol, aren't we creating the beer bong fests of college?

The one clear irresponsibility is they did not inform the parents of the other children. That should probably cause some legal trouble -- but 27 months? When no one apparently even got drunk, much less hurt. That's nuts and a waste of prison space.
6.14.2007 2:29pm
WHOI Jacket:
"What are you in here for?"

"I knocked over a gas station. Pulled a knife on the kid working the counter. Made off with $800+. Cops got me the next day though"

"How about you?"

"Me, I committed wire fraud. I hacked into people's computers and stole their identites. I went on a spending sprew with it all; a car, electronics, drugs, the works. FBI finally traced me and grabbed me while I was emptying this old guy's life savings"

"What about the new guy?"



"I gave some beer to teenagers...."
6.14.2007 2:30pm
Kelvin McCabe:
So instead of drinking in high school at a relatively safe place (i assume here that the kids normally wouldnt be allowed to drive home after consuming the alcohol), let them wait till they get to college (at 17 or 18 yrs old) with no experience whatsoever in drinking and then with no supervision whatsoever, aside from some random drunk frat boy or 3rd yr off campus housing party maniac. This is how people OD on alcohol, and it happens every yr and its usually, although not always, a freshman. How someone can be so stupid to not realize that you cant beer bong (think oil funnel with a tube attached) a fifth of jack daniels i dont know, but it happens. Had they known from previous experience that only 1/10th of that amount would have them puking their brains out, perhaps a death would have been averted.

The European approach, where many kids drink wine/spirits sociably at home with family at dinner or something similar seems the best and wisest choice, (in my humble opinion) for teaching kids the two most important words in the drinking safe vocabulary: moderation and knowledge.

Perhaps related coincidentally, the "catholic school" girls at my undergrad were some of the wildest, drunkest, (dare i say promiscious) woman on campus. Anybody see a pattern here between repression and then rebellion/over-zealousness? So you keep repressing those kids and denying them the opportunity to learn how to drink within their own limits and then send them off to college. Playboy's party-school edition and Girls Gone Wild producers thank you in advance.
6.14.2007 2:33pm
Prufrock765 (mail):
I trust WHOI Jacket has no experience in any branch of the criminal justice system.

Armed Robbery guy gets sent to state prison.
Wire Fraud Guy gets sent to Federal Prison.
Beer Party Parents do county time, maybe even get work release.

Nice try, though
6.14.2007 2:34pm
Ben Pollitzer (mail):

Who serves alcohol (I mean to kids) at a 16th birthday???? this surely is not anywhere close to a majority custom.



statistics


"Sixty-eight percent of eighth graders and 85 percent of tenth graders believe that alcohol is readily available to them for consumption."

"Forty percent of ninth-grader students reported having consumed alcohol before they were age 13."


These are merely from the first link I found, they are repeated in other places. for example So I'm presuming they're at least somewhat accurate.


16 year olds are either 10th grade or 11th grade.

These don't directly speak to parents providing alcohol. But there are really only several possibilities that fit.

1. The minors are aware of a merchant that openly violates rules about selling to individuals under 21

2. the minors have false identification

3. the minors are stealing the alcohol. (either from a store, or more likely, from parents)

4. the minors have an acquaintance (whether family or not) who is willing to purchase alcohol for them

Given that 1-3 all involve more serious crimes, it seems a reasonable assumption that at least some parents, or older siblings, are buying alcohol for their children.
6.14.2007 2:36pm
Hans Bader (mail):
Even as the courts were sentencing the Virginia mom in jail for a draconian 27 months in jail for serving beer to teens, they were giving a Tennessee pastor's wife (Mary Winkler) a ridiculously short sentence of only a few months in prison for killing her husband.

I pointed this out in a letter-to-the-editor published in today’s Washington Post.

This nonsense occurs all too often in the courts.

Courts are indulgent towards wives who kill their husbands: according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics' study of large urban counties, wives who commit unprovoked killings of their husbands get an average sentence of only 7 years, compared to the more reasonable 17 years that husbands receive for killing their wives.

Courts are biased in favor of female violent criminals, viewing violence from women as an unnatural fluke; the U.S. Sentencing Commission found pervasive gender bias in the criminal justice system.

By contrast, women who commit non-violent crimes receive sentences fairly similar to what men receive (as is illustrated by the draconian sentence in the case of the Virginia mom who served alcohol to minors, who now faces 27 months in jail -- just like her ex-husband -- as well as the loss of her family, her home, and the shattering of her life).

As a result, women's prisons are disproportionately filled with non-violent offenders.

My letter to the Washington Post follows:

WASHINGTON POST
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Teens, Beer and a Party's Consequences
Thursday, June 14, 2007; A26

The June 9 edition of The Post left me disillusioned with our criminal justice system.

The front page told the story of a Virginia mother sentenced to jail for more than two years for serving alcohol at her son's 16th birthday party ["Party Host Mom Set for Va. Jail Term"]. The back page of the news section told the story of a Tennessee pastor's wife who will serve just a few months for killing her husband by shooting him as he lay in bed ["Woman Who Killed Husband Might Serve Only 60 Days," Nation in Brief].

What kind of perverse reasoning deems killing your husband a less serious offense than serving alcohol to teenagers? We need to rethink the zero-tolerance policies that led to the Virginia mom's draconian sentence -- and the disturbing tendency to make excuses for wives who kill that led to the Tennessee woman's ridiculously short sentence.

HANS BADER
ARLINGTON

As a mother and a stepfather begin to serve jail sentences for serving alcohol at their son's 16th birthday party, only one thing comes to my mind:

I am so fortunate that I had the pleasure to grow up in Germany, where the purview of the government does not include destroying the lives of an entire family to restrain a 16-year-old from enjoying a beer.

BIRGITT WOLF
SPRINGFIELD

The above letters can be found at: www.washingtonpost.com/
wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/13/AR2007061301936_pf.html.
6.14.2007 2:38pm
RPS (mail):
John C,

If my memory serves me right, my CrimPro Professor's take on the open-door situation was that we don't force the police to split hairs. If the person was able to access the inside of the house, then I think they would still be considered in the house.

Wasn't there a case recently involving a person getting out of a car and whether the police could search the car? I seem the remember the person being several feet from the car, but the court upheld the search.
6.14.2007 2:38pm
WHOI Jacket:
I am aware of the differences between federal and state crimes. I have seen reports of robbers and vandels given sentences lighter than the ones in the story. A point is all I was trying to make.
6.14.2007 2:39pm
Ben Pollitzer (mail):
[quote]Isn't that a violation of the Fourth Amendment?[/quote]

I wouldn't doubt it.

But given that pleading guilty usually results in a slap in the wrist fine and alcohol awareness classes. Few bother to challenge the circumstances and fewer still have the resources to challenge it.

and this is all in addition to the fact that if that particular minor happens to have influential parents, (of the sort who might raise a fuss) the charges might be reduced to a stern talking to.
6.14.2007 2:41pm
Prufrock765 (mail):
Ben
The first stat does not talk about consumption or provision it only says that "I think I could drink if I chose too..." and is therefore not really on point.

The second stat could encompass something like having champagne once at a cousins wedding...so again, in and of itself...not really on point.

Again I am shocked that many commenters see no gray area between Seventh-Day-Adventist super-restrictions and having an 8 keg beer bust. I am willing to listen to the argument that the punishment is disproportionate (but again it depends on the defendants' criminal history).

But these defendants crossed the line.
6.14.2007 2:45pm
FantasiaWHT:
You can teach your kids how to drink alcohol responsibly without throwing these kids parties. When my little boy is 16, I'll probably start letting him have a little wine or beer when I or my wife is around and we know he's not going anywhere.

If the goal is to avoid binge drinking at parties, why would you try to teach your kid responsibility by throwing a drinking party for them?

I personally think giving all 10 year olds a sip of beer is enough to make them uninterested in alocohol for a long time to come! (Totally kidding, but that happened to me as a kid, heh. Uncles are such fun, aren't they?)
6.14.2007 2:46pm
RPS (mail):
I agree that the European model is preferable, but would it translate here? To me, the major concern with underage drinking -- and drinking in general -- is drunk driving. Because of Europe's density and public transportation, I suspect it is less of a concern there.

And I wouldn't trust a large percentage of parents to moderate their children's drinking and ensure that they don't drink and drive.
6.14.2007 2:47pm
Ben Pollitzer (mail):
PruFrock

I'm aware they aren't really on point, but those are the commonly cited statistics. It's probably rather difficult to get actual statistics from teenagers on what substances they use.

Just anecdotally, I'd estimate that probably 40-50% of high school age teenagers consume alcohol on a regular basis, and a significant percentage of those have done so either with their parents alcohol, or the alcohol purchased for them by a sibling or older friend.
6.14.2007 2:49pm
Nate F (www):
"Why are folks so quick to accept that for teenagers, it is axiomatic that fun=alcohol?"

Because in many places, including where I grew up, if you want to do anything after about 9 PM, it pretty much has to involve alcohol. Well, that and petty vandalism. And somehow I doubt you are suggesting the latter is preferable.
6.14.2007 2:52pm
WHOI Jacket:
Raise the driving age to 18.
Lower the drinking age to 18.
6.14.2007 2:52pm
TomH (mail):
(cold record sarcasm alert)

I'm just glad the kid is an orphan for the next two years. He deserves it. I mean, who needs parental supervision like that? I am sure that as a ward of the state he will not develop or come into contact with any unhealthy habits while in foster care. Nah.
6.14.2007 2:58pm
Allan:
Determining the proper conduct and care of a child is primarily the choice of the parent.

I am of the opinion that drinking is not inherently evil or dangerous, no matter what the age, so long as it is done in moderation and, if done in excess is not accompanied by operating dangerous machinery (like automobiles) or engaging in risky activity (like bungee jumping).

It is my firm belief that children who are allowed to have the occasional beer at home with their parents will not see the need to engage in binge drinking when in college. Indeed, if a parent wanted to allow their child to get drunk and be sick (not to the point of danger) as a value lesson, I am not sure I see the harm in that.

Were I in charge, I would make the law like it was in Indiana when I was a child: drinking age was 18, but children could drink in the presence of their parents (sort of like going to R rated movies).

Let's face it, the prohibition on children drinking is not that it is dangerous to their health to have a sip of wine, but that we do not want unsupervised youth to be drunk. Why not tailor the law to reflect this.
6.14.2007 2:58pm
John C (mail):

If my memory serves me right, my CrimPro Professor's take on the open-door situation was that we don't force the police to split hairs. If the person was able to access the inside of the house, then I think they would still be considered in the house.


That seems to lead to an equally absurd result, though - if opening the door to your house means that you have essentially allowed the police into your home for purposes of a search, is then the only thing a person can do is to not answer the door when the police knock?

Equally strange outcomes follow: if the only way to protect yourself from a sweep of your house (if simply opening the door will lead to an arrest) is to not open your door when the police knock, can the police simply stay there and keep knocking indefinitely? Haven't they then essentially cut off access to the rest of your property (assuming you have any)? And if so, isn't that a seizure, in which case they need probable cause (or reasonable suspicion), which they don't have (because you never came out)? But how can a Fourth Amendment violation happen simply by the police knocking at your door? That can't be right.

Ahhh, Fourth Amendment doctrine. . .
6.14.2007 2:59pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
What FantasiaWHT said. My younger siblings learned to drink, mostly responsibly, at home. As they grew older, they were allowed to have a glass of wine at dinner on some occasions, or allowed a beer after doing a bunch of yardwork. That's a far, far different thing than to throw a party and buy the booze not just for your own kid but for everybody else's.

There's this perception by some in this country that kids' behavior is not subject to change. They will, some believe, do whatever they're going to do, regardless. Sex, drinking, smoking, whatever. The fact is, parents have a great deal more influence over kids than that. Proper parenting does, for the most part, keep kids from binge drinking and having sex like bunnies. If only more people were willing to remember that the role of parents is to actually teach their children proper, safe behavior.

Seriously, people... It's one thing to oppose the severity of the sentence for the infraction, but to act as if this isn't an infraction at all? Suppose they said: "Kids, we know you're going to have sex anyway, so kindly go ahead and remove your clothes, take a condom, and get the orgy started"? Or what if they hired a bunch of prostitutes to come take care of the guys?
6.14.2007 2:59pm
Spartacus (www):
There were children as young as 12 at this party

Alcohol was served at Bar Mitzvahs I attended (in the 80s) where the average attendant was 12 or 13. BFD. It is pathetic, the total triumph of the nanny state.
6.14.2007 3:04pm
Prufrock765 (mail):
Ben
You can probably find stats that state those same percentages for teen sexual behavior...Should parents have orgies for their teens--as long as they hand out condoms and make sure all behavior is consensual? Because God knows we dont want them going to college and not knowing how to conduct themselves in that realm.

These parents had the equivalent of an alcohol orgy based on the amount of alcohol they had socked in.

No one is going to object to giving your HS age child a glass of wine at dinner. But when other kids are involved...or, for example, when you start doing shots with them....the reaction changes.
6.14.2007 3:05pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
It is very, very wrong to lie to teens' parents so you can trick them into letting their kids come drink at your house. (Can you imagine the tort suit if one of those kids died as a result?)

But I don't see that as the offense charged, and I agree that 27 months is much too severe a sentence. Our Puritanical streak is showing.
6.14.2007 3:07pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
"Kids, we know you're going to have sex anyway, so kindly go ahead and remove your clothes, take a condom, and get the orgy started"? Or what if they hired a bunch of prostitutes to come take care of the guys?

That, on the other hand, would be cool.
6.14.2007 3:08pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I don't have a strong opinion, one way or the other, about people serving alcohol to 16 year olds in their private home.

I should note, however, that here in LA, there is a huge problem with underage drinking at clubs by young celebrities, who are actively sought out by the clubs because of the publicity and cachet that they bring. For years, our alcohol control agencies looked the other way, even when Drew Berrymore was allegedly hitting the clubs at age 14 and certainly when Lindsay Lohan started hitting the clubs at 19 and Paris and Nicky Hilton hit the clubs while underage.

The authorities now say, after Lohan's latest problems, that they will crack down. But the signs aren't promising. One official said, incredibly, that even a papparazzi photograph of an underage celebrity with a drink in her hand at a club (which occurs with some frequency) is not sufficient evidence to bring an administrative action to suspend a liquor license, much less criminally prosecute.

So, just as we learned with the Paris Hilton jail situation, there's one law for celebrities and those who serve them, and another law for the rest of us.
6.14.2007 3:11pm
jimbino (mail):
I didn't drink even beer when I went to Germany at age 26 to teach physics at a boarding school. The kids there began drinking beer and wine at home as kiddies and at Gasthäuser at 14. None of them drove cars. My Kamaradschaft of 8 kids from 13 to 18 regularly invited my girlfriend and me to go skinny dipping with them at the lake.

Amerikans who aren't damnbaptists really need to get the hell out of this country to have a life!
6.14.2007 3:12pm
Vova Shklovsky (mail):
Mark Bahner, I'm sorry about your sister's loss. Multiple high school friends of mine died due to underage drinking and driving. However, defending the legal statue quo seems analogous to stockholm syndrome. These parents may well have made all sorts of mistakes, but it's misleading to conflate serving alcohol to minors and drunk driving, especially for those of us who are "particularly sensitive to anecdotal extrapolations."
6.14.2007 3:13pm
Rhode Island Lawyer:

The European approach, where many kids drink wine/spirits sociably at home with family at dinner or something similar seems the best and wisest choice, (in my humble opinion) for teaching kids the two most important words in the drinking safe vocabulary: moderation and knowledge.


I agree with this approach. My dad is an Italian immigrant and wine was a part of every dinner that our family had. I grew up watching my family enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, sometimes two, yet never saw anyone become intoxicated. From a very young age, around 4 or 5, one of the treats that I and my sisters were given was fresh fruit, usually peaches or apples, that were dipped in red wine. As I got older I was offered a small glass of wine, if I chose, to have with my dinner. The message was simple: alcohol in moderation is fine, wine is lovely to have with food, and only idiots drink to get drunk.

Now that I have children of my own I followed the same approach. From their youngest days they were offered a sip of wine with dinner, and at other approriate occasions. As a result, to them alcohol is not some mysterious substance that is off limits; instead, it is something that can bring pleasure when enjoyed responsibily.

Having said that, the parents in this case were wrong in not discussing their plans with the parents of the other kids at the party. I would not presume to offer wine to my daughter's friends unless I had been given permission to do so. However, even though the parents's judmgment was questionable, I agree with those who feel that the penalty seems harsh.
6.14.2007 3:25pm
Kenvee:
There's a huge difference between allowing your child to drink at home so they can get used to the concept of responsible drinking and throwing them a kegger. I'm firmly in support of the former, but the latter is absolutely ridiculous. You have no right to make parenting decisions for anyone else's child, and that includes drinking. And to teach a child to drink responsibly, that means enjoying a glass of wine or a beer for an evening at home, not throwing a wild party where everyone drinks to excess and the cops get called.

27 months still seems a little steep, though.
6.14.2007 3:36pm
noops:

Amerikans who aren't damnbaptists really need to get the hell out of this country to have a life!


+1 to this. It is both the nanny state, and the quaker state (pun intended) that makes this whole thing work the way it does.

We did the same thing at our house growing up with a couple of minor nits. All parents knew there was alcohol at the house. All car keys went to my dad. And the cops were told not to trespass a number of times.

Some parents probably forbade their children from coming. Fine. Some were happy that it was supervised. Also fine. It wasn't a cop out. It was smart and kept kids in a safe place, out of trouble, out of the sauce tank.
6.14.2007 3:40pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
As far as the sentence, around here (and I think this is standard), first offense DUI is one day in jail plus fine, license suspension, etc. Second offense within 5 years is 10 days in jail.

I know of several negligent manslaughter cases where the penalty was 12 months in jail. A year is also typical of first-offense burglary.

27 months is WAY out of proportion here.
6.14.2007 3:40pm
Cory Olson (mail):
I spent two years consulting a college organization. I traveled around the country, visiting school to school. I've been on approximately 85 college campus and have spoken with over 1,000 college students.

One thing I've learned is that the student who was barred from drinking alcohol in high school is MUCH more likely to drink themselves out of school (i.e. partying every weekend while neglecting school work, getting in trouble b/c alcohol, etc.). On the other hand, students with some (note, not regular drunken fiestas) exposure fare much better in my experience.

Why? Well, IMO (including based on my own years hanging out at the local tavern with my mother at the age of 16+), alcohol loses the "cool" factor. So you're drinking, big deal. So you're drunk. Whoopie. I don't need to go out on the weekends to experience it for the first time.

Face it, kids are going to drink at some point in their life. Better to aclimate them to it earlier, responsibly, and in a controlled manner than allow them to their own devices and pressure of older college students.
6.14.2007 3:41pm
Phantom (mail):
Hans Bader:

Your analogy between the Tennessee Preacher's wife and these parents falls apart when you consider the following two facts.

First, the Tennessee Preacher's Wife (TPW) gets credit for her pre-sentence confinement (which was in the area of two years).

Second, these parents will likely receive the benefits of "good time" which will significantly reduce the length of their sentences. Using Colorado's good time calculations (the only such calculation with which I am familiar), the parents in this case will serve 16.2 months. In addition, they may find their sentences reduced further under a number of circumstances.

--PtM
6.14.2007 4:25pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I'd be more impressed with those who want tough enforcement of underage drinking laws if they also endorsed meaningful sanctions of overage DUI -- like seizing cars, as I understand is done in Sweden.

Seems like there was a post here last week about 33,000 Ohions with 5 or more DUI convictions. In a society where alcohol laws serve as deterrents -- as allenged by, say, Fantasia, how do you get to 5?

Graduation weekend here passed without any high school fatals. That was unusual. Most years, we get at least one spectacular, 3- or 4-dead teen crash.

The local custom is to erect roadside memorials with what was important to the dead kids: CDs, T-shirts, cans of beer.
6.14.2007 4:27pm
Prufrock765 (mail):
The defendants' Va Supreme Court case is at 639 SE 2d 217.
A perusal of that decision draws me toward the folowing conclusions:

These people are turds. They lied or with-held the truth from the other parents. There was no concerted attempt to collect car keys and no attempt to block the driveway so that attendees could not leave.

They obstructed or attempted to obstruct the investigation at the scene.

They were charged with a series of misdemeanors. They not only got jail for each one, the judge ran the sentences consecutively. Which means either they had serious criminal history or they REALLY pissed the judge off or both. (I suppose it is also possible, e.g., that one of the attendees was a child of some local big wheel who put pressure on the system in favor of a harsh sentence.)
Neither defendant appealed the sentence. (Odd, I know)
6.14.2007 4:39pm
Houston Lawyer:
What is this, an intergalactic kegger?

Serving alcohol to your own underage kids is fine. Serving to others without their parents' permission is not.

I offer my kids, age 9 &11, sips of beer on occasion. They generally decline, based upon taste. So I agree that it is probably best for parents to slowly introduce their kids to the pleasures and perils of alcohol. You don't have the right to do this though for other people's kids. I like the orgy analogy.
6.14.2007 4:41pm
FantasiaWHT:
Re: comparisons to DUI's.

Personally, I'm for severely enhanced penalties- car seizure, license revocation (coupled with serious penalties for being caught with a revoked license of course), hard prison time, etc., on the first offense. Drunk driving is an incredibly serious problem that, sadly, few people take seriously.

On the otherhand, it's rather disingenuous to say that because the punishment for crime X isn't more than the punishment for related and less serious crime Y, the punishment for crime Y is too severe. That's similar to people who make arguments saying that because F is a major crime problem, police (or politicians, the analogy can go as well) shouldn't focus any attention on crime G. How many times have you heard some political hack say "We've got way too many other problems for government/police to be wasting time with this!"
6.14.2007 4:58pm
Hans Bader (mail):
Phantom,

My understanding was that Virginia has abolished parole.

I live in Virginia. Do you?

I am a lawyer, although I admittedly don't practice criminal law.
6.14.2007 5:00pm
Hans Bader (mail):
Phantom,

My understanding was that Virginia has abolished parole.

I live in Virginia. Do you?

I am a lawyer, although I admittedly don't practice criminal law.
6.14.2007 5:00pm
FantasiaWHT:
PS, the orgy analogy is fantastic. Gotta remember that one next time someone brings out passing out condoms in school.
6.14.2007 5:00pm
Prufrock765 (mail):
These people won't get parole because they are misdemeanants and therefore will not serve in the state system. This is county time. They will get good time credit and then be released to a county probation officer. BTW--this party occurred 5 years ago and they are just now starting their sentences...too bad they are in going to be in the can---think of the 21st B-day party they could have thrown for their son coming up in August....the mind reels
6.14.2007 5:15pm
DRJ (mail):
I've seen 4 teenage boys die as a result of attending parties where parents bought and provided alcohol, and later that night the teens died in single car accidents or from an overdose. Two parents are in jail now because their actions contributed to the death of another family's child. This could have been one of those parties. Fortunately it wasn't but that doesn't mitigate the recklessness of these parents' behavior.

I have no problem with parents who want to introduce their children to alcohol but these parents had no right to use their son's birthday as an excuse to introduce everyone else's child to clubbing. Look at the numbers on teen DUI wrecks and overdoses. America has a problems with underage drinking and parent-sanctioned parties send the message that underage drinking is no big deal.
6.14.2007 5:21pm
Sebastian (mail) (www):
Personally, I'm for severely enhanced penalties- car seizure, license revocation (coupled with serious penalties for being caught with a revoked license of course), hard prison time, etc., on the first offense. Drunk driving is an incredibly serious problem that, sadly, few people take seriously.

I don't think the penalty for first time DUI should be the same a knocking over a liquor store. If you want to throw the book at someone because they ran someone over or caused an accident where someone was killed, that's one thing. Throwing someone in prison for being 0.09 after heading home from a few drinks with coworkers I think is a tad excessive.
6.14.2007 5:27pm
K Parker (mail):
Allan,
Were I in charge, I would make the law like it was in Indiana when I was a child: drinking age was 18, but children could drink in the presence of their parents
Just come to Washington state. Sure, we have that pesky 21-year-old thing, but the rest of the situation is as almost you ask--the only exception is that consuming-alcohol-in-presence-of-parents is not allowed at licensed establishments, so you're restricted to private homes, private gatherings at parks and other areas where alcohol may be consumed but isn't offered for sale, etc.

Profrock,
These parents had the equivalent of an alcohol orgy based on the amount of alcohol they had socked in.
But if the report of the number and degree of intoxicated kids is accurate, they sure didn't get their money's worth!
6.14.2007 5:29pm
Prufrock765 (mail):
The current penalty structure is fine. The reason you can't, e.g., take someone's car is that you then immediately, in a large plurality of cases, deprive him of the means to earn a livelihood.

Another question, though, that occurred to me about this case: Why didn't the plea bargain--which I guess was some sort of nolo plea, contain some stipulation as to sentencing? Seems like the defense lawyers screwed the pooch on that one.
6.14.2007 5:34pm
WT (mail) (www):
Hans Bader and Phantom--

These two get day for day credit at the jail, so they will serve 50% of the time.

I practice in Charlottesville, and I try criminal cases with the Albemarle Commonwealth's Attorney's office all the time. Just had a jury trial yesterday. I think the CA, when talking about this being the worst case of underage drinking he'd seen, was inarticulately trying to talk about the parent's conduct in lying to the other parents, more than the drinking. Of course there are worse cases, like when a 17-year-old gets drunk and slams his car into a tree.

This case shocked the local bar. People wanted to remove the juvy judge. I still can't believe the sentence these folks got.
6.14.2007 5:43pm
Phantom (mail):
Hans Bader:

I am a lawyer. I've practiced criminal law. I don't live in Virginia.

The website for the Virginia Parole Board contains the following information:

"The Virginia Parole Board was established by law in 1942 and the Board continues to be empowered by Virginia Code Section 53.1-136 to make the following decisions:

* to conditionally release inmates who are parole eligible,
* to revoke parole and post release supervision of those under supervision found to be in violation of the terms of their release, and
* to investigate, prepare reports and advise the Governor, when requested, on Executive Clemencies.

The Board has the legal responsibility to act on geriatric requests for conditional release under Virginia Code
Section 53.1 - 40.01.

Following the Board's decision to grant an offender parole, the offender must agree to abide by specific conditions in return for the opportunity to serve the remainder of his or her sentence under supervision in the community. This contractual agreement between the Parole Board and an offender is parole. Parole supervision is carried out for the Virginia Parole Board by the probation and parole officers of the Virginia Department of Corrections."

Of course, none of that is relevant, because, as Prufrock765 noted, I wasn't talking about parole, I was discussing good time. In the criminal justice system, it's fairly normal for inmates to have their time of incarceration automatically reduced merely for being good inmates.

However, in case you're interested, it appears that Virginia has passed a "truth in sentencing" law that eliminates discretionary parole and requires inmates to serve 85% of their sentence before being released for good behavior.

Thus, under the specific facts of our case, the Defendants will, in fact, be spending 23 months in jail.

--PtM
6.14.2007 5:54pm
jimbino (mail):
What would happen if parents held a prayer meeting for lots of minor kids, pretending it to be a beer blast, and deceived the parents of the other kids?

Beer can leave a hangover, but a prayer meeting might hobble a kid for life!
6.14.2007 5:55pm
Phantom (mail):
Then again, I'll defer to WT's experience.
6.14.2007 5:57pm
theobromophile (www):
When I was in high school, my father told me that if I wanted to try alcohol, we would sit down, do tequila shots, and he would wake me up at 6 am the next morning to do yard work.

I hate to think that he could have spent a year in jail if I were so silly as to take him up on the offer.

Virginia apparently allows minors to drive with a BAC of 0.02 or below. If I'm reading this right, then, the nine kids had BACs of 0.02 or below, which is a few ounces of beer for a young woman.
6.14.2007 6:50pm
Mark Bahner (www):
Vova Schlovsky:


Mark Bahner, I'm sorry about your sister's loss. Multiple high school friends of mine died due to underage drinking and driving.


Yes, drinking and driving is a terrible thing. But it is especially horrendous when the people who die had their whole lives in front of them.


However, defending the legal statue quo seems analogous to stockholm syndrome.


Ummmm...that may or may not be the case, but I was in no way defending the "legal status quo."

I was merely pointing out the comment, "Geez, I remember plenty of beer being available at various Sweet Sixteens I attended (when the drinking age was 18), and exactly no harm came of it"...was an inappropriate extrapolation of personal anecdotal experience. I was making no comment at all on the appropriateness (or lack thereof) of drinking minimum age limits for alcohol consumption. And I particularly noted that the complaint about the severity of the sentence seemed valid.


These parents may well have made all sorts of mistakes, but it's misleading to conflate serving alcohol to minors and drunk driving,


I didn't conflate the two. I merely pointed out that the statement, "Geez, I remember plenty of beer being available at various Sweet Sixteens I attended (when the drinking age was 18), and exactly no harm came of it" was an inappropriate extrapolation of personal experience. It seems virtually certain to me that SOME of the "various Sweet Sixteens" that David Bernstein attended where "plenty of beer" was available involved SOME teens going driving home (or to others' homes) under the influence of that beer. The fact that none of Mr. Bernstein's friends were subsequently killed or badly injured, or killed or badly injured someone else, is simply a fortunate coincidence.

Best wishes,
Mark

P.S. While on the subject of minimum drinking ages, I'll relate my own anecdotal experience. I grew up mostly in Europe, particularly in (West) Germany. I attended a German-American orchestra camp. It was a one-week event, where German and American teens came together for about a week to practice various pieces (e.g., Rhapsody in Blue) and then perform in a concert. One night near the end of the period, there was a German-American dance. I'm not sure whether or not alcohol was served, but there was certainly plenty available. In my memory, many of the American kids got hammered--in particular, one vomited all over me in my lower bunk bed--but most of the German kids did not.

My memory (which is probably not too good...this was 35 years ago) is that Germany at the time had no minimum drinking age. My memory may not be correct, but I think it was much more common for German kids to drink alcohol with their families (e.g., wine with dinner). That is, German kids learned how to drink responsibly, where as American kids didn't.

P.P.S. But enough with anecdotal evidence...here are some nationwide data on minimum drinking ages and alcohol fatalities. (I haven't bothered to read all of it, and make no comments on any conclusions it may reach.)

Minimum drinking age and teenage alcohol fatalities

P.P.P.S. And all of this is perhaps a bit off-topic, since the parents in question apparently at least had the sense to make certain that none of the kids drove home after drinking alcohol.
6.14.2007 7:22pm
Mark Bahner (www):

When I was in high school, my father told me that if I wanted to try alcohol, we would sit down, do tequila shots, and he would wake me up at 6 am the next morning to do yard work.


When I was in high school, my mother insisted that it was OK for me and my siblings to have some of the wine my parents drank at restaurants in Europe. Two of the three of us ended up tea-totalers. (Wine seems particularly nasty to me. I try to drink red wine for my heart, but in the end I'd rather have the heart attack. ;-))
6.14.2007 7:32pm
Hattio (mail):
Dave Hardy says;

As far as the sentence, around here (and I think this is standard), first offense DUI is one day in jail plus fine, license suspension, etc. Second offense within 5 years is 10 days in jail.

I know of several negligent manslaughter cases where the penalty was 12 months in jail. A year is also typical of first-offense burglary.

27 months is WAY out of proportion here.



Where the hell do you practice? Here in AK it's 3 days for a first DUI, 20 days for a second. You'd be lucky to get away with 4 years for a negligent manslaughter. Though, strangely enough, the burglary charge (the one you can't really commit accidentally) would be about a year.
6.14.2007 8:09pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'You don't have the right to do this though for other people's kids'

In Hawaii, you don't even have the right to do it for your own.

But, as I indicated in the anecdote about placing beers on the memorial for kids killed driving drunk, what the law says and what the public will assent to are pretty far apart.
6.14.2007 9:14pm
microtherion (mail):
As soon as I get a chance, I'm going to write to Gov. Kaine and ask him to commute this sentence.

Good luck! Try to get Robert Bork &Randy Barnett to co-sign while you're at it.
6.14.2007 10:29pm
microtherion (mail):
As soon as I get a chance, I'm going to write to Gov. Kaine and ask him to commute this sentence.

Good luck! Try to get Robert Bork &Randy Barnett to co-sign while you're at it.
6.14.2007 10:29pm
Ignorance is Bliss:

27 Month Sentence for Serving 16 year olds beer

Whether this is excessive or not depends on the beer. If it was IC Light, that would be child abuse and would deserve a harsher sentence.
6.14.2007 11:20pm
whit:
i think the sentence is ridiculous.

with that in mind...
"2) When the police knock, tell them to get a warrant or get lost (worked for me!)"

i have assisted on several of these warrants. pretty easy to get. would you really rather have the cops serve a warrant on you for this?

in my jurisdiction it is perfectly legal for adults to serve alcohol to minor children - as long as they are YOUR children.

with that in mind, the thing that chaps me about these defendants is that they basically took it on themselves to violate the OTHER childrens parent's parental rights. feeding other parents kids alcohol is seriously messed up.
6.14.2007 11:34pm
Malvolio:
"2) When the police knock, tell them to get a warrant or get lost (worked for me!)"

i have assisted on several of these warrants. pretty easy to get. would you really rather have the cops serve a warrant on you for this?
Absolutely. Rights only exist if you use them.

I had my daughter's sweet-sixteen at the house. Perhaps 200 teenagers in 1000 square feet (I had locked off everything but the main floor). Whenever I found a kid with alcohol, I kicked him out. At the high point, there were perhaps 50 kids ringing (but not on) my property, drinking Smirnoff Ice and 40-ounce Bud Lights. I'm not sure that was any better for them but nobody threw up on my carpet.
6.15.2007 12:27am
whit:
well, yes. nobody has the right to serve alcohol to minors (other than their children). so, yes. if you refuse entry - cops can (and often will) get a warrant.

you have a right NOT to serve juveniles liquor in your house. if you choose to serve juveniles liquor, cops have the RIGHT to search your house with a warrant if you refuse entry. in general, fwiw, cops are also far more likely to give warnings and at most citations if they don't have to get a warrant. if you refuse entry - probably get at least a citation and more probably a custodial arrest. call it the "waste their time" penalty.
6.15.2007 1:08am
neurodoc:
To be sure, the sentence is shockingly disproportionate to the offense and should not be allowed to stand. It ought to be mentioned, however, that the story said the defendants assured the parents of invitees that their children would not be served alcohol at the party.

There is another Northern Virginia case out there which raises the question of parental responsibility for the actions of their teenagers. A mentally deranged young man set forth from home suited up in body armor and armed himself with guns and much ammo. His intention was to kill police, so he went to a local police station and when a couple of them emerged he fired on them, killing them, before he was in turn killed. The father owned some or all of the weapons his son used, and allegedly he regularly smoked marijuana with his son and the son's friends, as well as otherwise encouraged or did not discourage his son's delinquency before the murderous assault. Now, the father is to be criminally prosecuted. I do believe the father is morally culpable, but I am not sure what our criminal system can and should with him, since he did not conspire with his son to kill the police or aid and abet him in that crime. If the father had substantial assets, which I don't think he has, would he be able to defend himself in a civil suit for what his son (18 or 19 years old) did?
6.15.2007 1:19am
Justin (mail):
No, being a responsible parent is NOT throwing illegal alcoholic parties for your child and your child's friends. I suppose it's more responsible than getting your child and his friends illegal ID's and telling them to go have a party at a bar, in the same way that giving a toddler a loaded BB gun is more responsible than giving a toddler a glock.


Yes, and if it was true that the vast majority of toddlers had glocks, trading the glock for a bb gun would be a SMART move. You're acting like the alternative to drinking responsibly in the parents' home would be going to church and watching PG rated movies. 16 is getting a little past me lately, but let me tell you, its far more likely smoking cheap pot behind the alley and drinking 40s of malt liquor. And I grew up in an upper class jewish neighborhood.

1. The minors are aware of a merchant that openly violates rules about selling to individuals under 21

2. the minors have false identification

3. the minors are stealing the alcohol. (either from a store, or more likely, from parents)

4. the minors have an acquaintance (whether family or not) who is willing to purchase alcohol for them


You do realize that 1-3 are not exactly unlikely reasons, and that 4 can be expanded to, ya know, "friends with fake IDs" and "guy on the corner who will do it for $5."

One thing I've learned is that the student who was barred from drinking alcohol in high school is MUCH more likely to drink themselves out of school (i.e. partying every weekend while neglecting school work, getting in trouble b/c alcohol, etc.). On the other hand, students with some (note, not regular drunken fiestas) exposure fare much better in my experience.

This was my experience at a large state university as well.
6.15.2007 1:23am
Ignorance is Bliss:

"2) When the police knock, tell them to get a warrant or get lost (worked for me!)"

i have assisted on several of these warrants. pretty easy to get. would you really rather have the cops serve a warrant on you for this?

Absolutely. Rights only exist if you use them.

While you are correct that rights only exist if you use them, rights are weakened when misused. Most people do not support rights for criminal because they are concerned about the criminals, they support rights for criminals because it is necessary to insure the rights of the innocent.

If people see the police as abusing their authority, then public opinion will shift against them, which will result in stricter standards for getting a search warrant or for conducting a search without a warrant.

If people see criminals using their rights to prevent the police from catching the criminals ( by giving them time to destroy evidence, or by giving the kids time to sober up ) then the pendulum will swing the other way, and people will support looser standards for police searches.

Does that mean that you should never stand up for your rights? Of course not. If the police are there not because the have reason to believe you committed a specific crime, but instead to harass you for personal or political reasons, then you should certainly require them to get a warrant.

Yes, you have the legal right to require a warrant before allowing a search even when you know you are guilty. But please don't pretend that in doing so you are somehow defending people's rights, when all you are really doing is trying to save your own sorry ass.

( Note that when I say people don't support rights for criminals, I'm mostly thinking about searches and due process type issues; the sorts of things that are designed to protect the innocent. Clearly protections against cruel and unusual punishment are intended to protect the guilty and are not the sort of rights I was referring to. )
6.15.2007 10:31am
ATRGeek:
I agree the sentence is outrageously unjust, but imagine if the recreational drug in question had been marijuana rather than alcohol. My point, of course, is that our drug laws and the sentences they produce have become entirely disconnected from any consideration of whether the activity in question is so "obviously harmful" as to warrant such extreme punishments.

So, hopefully Professor Bernstein will start writing letters on behalf of all the people who have been imprisoned for activities which are similarly not so "obviously harmful" as providing alcohol to minors.
6.15.2007 11:23am
Whadonna More:

Suppose they said: "Kids, we know you're going to have sex anyway, so kindly go ahead and remove your clothes, take a condom, and get the orgy started"?

Suppose they had. If it's among post-puberty young people, I fail to see why the police and government rules are better suited to deciding whether it's OK to participate than the "children".
6.15.2007 11:50am
Tom952 (mail):
"I've never been a fan of "making an example" out of some hapless defendant who happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time."

What is hapless about throwing a drinking party for high school kids?

The parents who throw these parties send a strong message to the kids that drinking alcohol is the thing to do and the laws restricting it are to be ignored. Alcohol is dangerous and addictive. I've never heard of a parent who hosted a teen alcohol party that delivered warnings to the group before opening the bar.
6.15.2007 4:14pm
Oren (mail):

"I don't care what you think. You don't serve my kid alcohol; you especially don't do it behind my back. My kid will not ever enter your home or socialize with yours ever again unless I have your word that you will not serve alcohol to any minor including your own while my daughter is in your home. If I ever find out that you have broken your word, I will be on you like white on rice, and I won't rest until I see you prosecuted."


I couldn't help but start laughing when I read this - until I realized you were serious. The good news is that your kids have far more (defacto) independence than you give them and that they might yet learn good decision making skill behind your back.

It's either that or going to college and blowing the whole football team at a frat party.
6.15.2007 11:15pm
Oren (mail):

The parents who throw these parties send a strong message to the kids that drinking alcohol is the thing to do and the laws restricting it are to be ignored.


The parents who throw these parties send a strong message to the kids that drinking alcohol responsibly is a socially acceptable thing to do and the laws restricting it are silly insofar as they don't allow the children to learn to drink responsibly.


Alcohol is dangerous and addictive.


Because everything should be judged by the worst possible abuse.


I've never heard of a parent who hosted a teen alcohol party that delivered warnings to the group before opening the bar.


They get enough rhetorical bombast at school, thank you very much.
6.15.2007 11:21pm
Oren (mail):
Ok, now that I think I got all the snark out (no promises!), here's the serious question for parents (yes, the bold is necessary:

When your kids enter college, they will be instantly immersed in an almost completely permissive environment in which they will be able to chose from virtually every possible drug/sex experience they wish to have. Do you feel like they will be able to go to a frat party (say) and be able to have a few beers responsibly?

To put it another way, do you feel that an abrupt transition from no freedom to virtually unlimited freedom is healthy or do you wish to provide some intermediate step?

(Yes, I'm begging the question, in a sense, but the fact remains that in almost all other ways, we seek to gradually move our children from dependence to independence in a controlled manner instead of dumping them in the new experience without the proper tools.)

PS. I was very good friends with a lot of the campus security folks at my college and they overwhelming hate the first few weekends at school specifically for this reason - they don't like busting students and they hate to seem them fail. They say it's a good weekend when no one gets their stomach pumped.
6.15.2007 11:32pm