Alcohol

Party Host Parent Heads to Jail

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A Virginia woman who bought beer and wine for her son's 16th birthday party is headed to prison for 27 months. I understand the need to charge her—she apparently lied to the parents of the kids her son invited. But it seems to me that a fine would have been perfectly appropriate, particularly considering that (a) none of the kids drank to the point of legal intoxication, and (b) she collected keys at the door, and no one left the party.

And 27 months is ridiculous. Thing is, it was almost much worse. The trial judge originally sentenced the woman to 8-10 years, a sentence supported by the local chapter of MADD.

Apparently, it would have been better if she'd turned a blind eye to her son and his friends' underage drinking, and allowed them celebrate in a motel room, a vacant parking lot, or a woods, as my high school friends did, and then drive home.

The article also includes some hysterical statements from the usual neoprohibitionist crowd. Like this one:

But Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney James L. Camblos III, who prosecuted the parents, said it was the worst case of underage drinking he has had to deal with in 15 years.

Really? A party where not a single person was drunk, and not a single person drove home after having a drink, is the "worst case" he's dealt with in 15 years? Really?

Or this one:

"In a lot of cases, the parents are the problem," said Diane Eckert, a prevention specialist in the Safe and Drug-Free Youth section of Fairfax County schools. "The majority of our youth say they obtain their alcohol in their parents' homes."

This is the same zero tolerance line of thinking adopted by groups like MADD and the American Medical Association, which a couple of years ago put out a study lamenting that—horrors!—most underage drinkers get their first taste of alcohol from their parents. Of course, you could make a strong argument that parents are exactly who we want to give teens their first taste of alcohol.

This one's good, too:

Camblos, who has made curbing underage drinking part of this year's reelection campaign, denied any political motivation. "Politics had nothing to do with it. I've seen too many photographs of teenagers being killed in car wrecks because of drinking and driving."

This is just posturing. Elisa Kelly shouldn't have lied to the parents of her son's friends. But come on. She did more to keep drunk drivers off Virginia's roads that night than most parents. She likely made the roads safer that night. And she certainly did nothing to make them more dangerous.

I wrote about this case a couple of years ago in the Washington Post.

Amusing side note: My article so angered MADD and the AMA, the two groups' presidents called up a CNN producer and demanded the network do a story so they could ridicule me (one state senator in Maryland said I might as well be endorsing "shoplifting parties or rape parties").

The lede to the story was hilarious. It bemoaned how a "big think tank" (I worked for Cato at the time—which, by the way, has a budget a third the size of MADD's) had diverted precious MADD resources from their noble mission, because they now had to respond to this outrageous suggestion that parents who throw supervised parties for underage drinkers ought not be thrown in prison for ten years. The CNN reporter was also openly confrontational with me through the entire interview, and contiuned to lecture me even after the camera stopped rolling.

NEXT: The Ron Paul Surge?

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  1. Bunch of nuts.

    As much as this pains me to suggest, I think having every American serve mandatory jail time — a weekend, a week, what have you — might cause people to think more sanely about how much time they’re sentencing a person to.

    27 months, 8 years, 10 years… what’s the difference, right? The utter lack of any sense of proportionality between offense and sentence speaks to what I think is one of the worst problems we have: people simply cannot conceptualize what it is to spend time in jail.

    And so now, this kid has no mother for the remainder of his adolescence. It would be ironic if, without his mother’s oversight, the kid turns to heavy drinking, staying out all night, drinking and driving, and killing someone on the road.

  2. I blame the ignorant electorate for electing James L. Camblos III, and allowing him to figure that draconian bullshit like this is acceptable.

    Hell, it probably is acceptable to the voter base down there. Fuckin’ hillbilly shitbirds.

    Is it too late to “let” the south leave the union?

  3. Well, as long as you have laws they have to be enforced. The sentence is ridiculous given the circumstances, but keeping foolish laws on the books that are enforced only sporadically not only breeds disrespect for all laws but also makes it less likely that stupid laws will be changed.

  4. BTW, I support lowering the drinking age, so it’s not like I’m on MADD’s side on this.

  5. Everyone involved in this persecution should be immediately fired/impeached.

  6. MADD is so insane they have actually stated their desire to raise the legal drinking age to 25 if it had any chance of success.

  7. Why is the choice only between actively providing alcohol and “turning a blind eye”. How about telling your kid not to drink with his friends, and punishing him if you find out he did? Or, how about letting your own damn kid drink if you want, but not giving alcohol to other people’s kids?

    I have a son and a daughter. If I ever found out some adult was providing alcohol to my kids at parties, the least of their concerns would be prison. I would simply beat the living shit out of them.

  8. crimethink,

    I sympathize with your point, but I think we could maintain some sort of order if certain laws were enforced in a selective but consistent manner: i.e. certain types of violations (those that cause the least harm) are consistently overlooked, while other types of violations (those that cause greater harm) are consistently prosecuted.

    It’s far from ideal (ideal would be a law that only punishes people in cases involving significant harm to othes), but it would be rational, in a way.

  9. Impeached? He’ll be reelected by a landslide. Virginia’s voters love aggressive and draconian tough guys who hide behind the rule of law.

    I think it’s a function of population density, in tandem with their proximity to Washington DC.

    I’ve as much respect for communities that allow (nay, encourage) stuff like this to happen as I do for those creepy places that figured lynching niggers was the way to go.

    It can’t happen here.

  10. CNN MADD

    the forces of Progressive liberalism

  11. “while other types of violations (those that cause greater harm) are consistently prosecuted.”

    It’s nice in theory, but people morally weak enough to avoid crusading against bad law will also probably be incapable of applying those bad laws in a just manner.

  12. “I have a son and a daughter. If I ever found out some adult was providing alcohol to my kids at parties, the least of their concerns would be prison. I would simply beat the living shit out of them.”

    I buy for underage kids every few weeks, but only if they ask me. I certainly don’t twist their arms, nor do I take advantage of them in any way. Please don’t (attempt to) beat the shit out of me for giving your kids what they ask (and pay) for.

  13. Jazz Discharge Party Hat, Albemarle County is UVA country. Even if its not true in this instance (I don’t know what the actual demographics of Albemarle are like) I think that such a ruling is way more likely to appease “liberal elite” professors than “hillbilly shitbirds” because we all know that hillbillies like to get drunk and fuck their sisters.

  14. Thoreau –

    I would argue that the fact that the laws are not consistently enforced allows bad laws to remain in place.

    If every last feasible violation of every law were punished, people would find the situation so intolerable that the most egregious statutes would be repealed.

    The inconsistent application of the laws allows individuals to view bad or petty laws as someone else’s problem.

  15. Europe has us on this one. I’m going to start locking our liquer up. Its only a matter of time before I’m sued by the parents of my daughter’s pilfering friends. Plus a combination lock might keep me from pouring that last drink I don’t need.

  16. Okapi, have you ever broken a law concerning the minimum drinking age?

    [I don’t know your age or nationality, so I’m asking about whatever laws were in place wherever you lived however long ago it was.]

  17. crimethink,

    Well, as long as you have laws they have to be enforced.

    Been reading the Crito lately? 😉

  18. MADD is a collection of ideologues with an agenda to pass neo-prohibitionist laws under cover of a For the Children? do-gooder campaign. Thank goodness most people aren’t stupid enough to buy into their bullshit. Except, apparently, Virginians.

  19. …The CNN reporter was openly confrontational with me through the entire interview, and contiuned to lecture me even after the camera stopped rolling.

    That’s because you weren’t thinking of the-

    …ah, fuck it.

  20. I think we could maintain some sort of order if certain laws were enforced in a selective but consistent manner

    thoreau, that boils down to “if only the right people were in charge…” and I think you know how that goes.

    God knows I appreciate everything Radley Balko does to raise awareness of govt encroachments on our liberty. But I don’t get how he’s faulting the prosecutor for bringing charges in a case where someone clearly, intentionally broke a very specific law.

  21. Been reading the Crito lately? 😉

    As you know, I concentrate on the Judeo-Christian roots of our law rather than the Greco-Roman…

  22. But I don’t get how he’s faulting the prosecutor for bringing charges in a case where someone clearly, intentionally broke a very specific law.

    Balko himself said he understands the need to charge her; it’s the overly harsh penalty that’s giving him qualms.

  23. To clarify, I’m referring to Radley’s first sentence, where he implies that if the mother had only been giving alcohol to her own son, or had informed the other parents that there would be alcohol at this party, then she shouldn’t have been charged.

  24. Goddammit, Jim Bob snuck in the first “ForTheChildren” response while I was writing my post.

    …I concentrate on the Judeo-Christian roots of our law…

    Yeah, let’s just chop her kid in half. She won’t be throwing anymore parties after that.

  25. crimethink,

    Your statement has the same flavor to it that Socrates’ did to poor Crito when Crito was trying to get him to go into exile instead of drinking the poison. I thought that was pretty interesting and cool.

  26. Grotius,

    Well, Socrates and I are both raging idealists…I suppose you as a utilitarian consider both my and Socrates’ approach to the question fundamentally wrongheaded.

  27. crimethink,

    Anyway, not to get completely off-topic, I’d say that it is darn near impossible to avoid the influence that say the Platonist ‘school’ has had on Cristianity.

  28. “In a lot of cases, the parents are the problem,” said Diane Eckert.

    100% agree. For years I’ve been saying that Big Brother could do a far better job of rearing the nations offspring then those pesky parents.

  29. crimethink,

    I’d say that Socrates’ absolutism leaves much to be desired, yeah.* I mean, he says in the Crito that the condition of his “soul” is paramount and the effects his actions (including those leading to his death) should have no bearing on his decision. But one has to ask, what about the ‘soul’ of his soon to be fatherless children?

    *I’m not saying that you are an absolutist.

  30. crimethink,

    There a whole lot of quite thorny questions like that which Socrates avoids in all of Plato’s dialogues in which he is a character.

  31. I am with Okapi on this one.

    If she had informed the other children’s parents of what was going on, then there would be no reason for the harsh punishment. I would need to look at the law in more detail, but in most states you can serve your own child. The law prohibits serving to other people’s children. When you do this in secret (as she did) then you infringe on the rights of the other parents. That’s a big deal and should be not be treated lightly.

    Now given that, I think that a hefty fine, and a long stint in community service (maybe working with addicts) makes more sense than a couple of years in jail for any non-violent crime. But if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.

  32. So ends today’s episode of “Discussions In Philosophy.” Tune in next week for a discussion of the importance of deduction to Parmenides.

  33. Radley does not seem to recognize that this woman is an adult. She knew she was breaking the law. She knew she was lying to the other parents. She knew (or should have known) that she was risking spending the rest of her child’s school years in jail.

    Adults have to take responsibility for their actions.

  34. “he implies that if the mother had only been giving alcohol to her own son, …then she shouldn’t have been charged.”

    Then there’d’ve been nothing to charge her with, because that’s not illegal.

    Or maybe it could be in VA! “Contributing to the delinquency of a minor” was the charge, which somehow supplying wine & beer must’ve been interpreted to be, rather than a specific charge of giving liquor to non-household members who were under age to sell to.

    But the CNN bit was interesting in bringing up the “sex parties” possibility too. There was a similar furor to this a few years ago when the talk shows described parents allowing their teen offspring to have sexual intercourse in their homes. There was no denial by anyone involved that the teens would be having sexual intercourse one way or another, nor was there strong condemnation of the idea of them even having sex per se, but there seemed to be some outrage about allowing them to be at home while doing it.

    What I think it boils down to is that opinion is widespread that harm reduction is of a much lower value than symbolism — that the home one grows up in should stand for, uh, immaturity, I guess. That as long as one is living with parents one should act like a child in that place. Similarly on sitcoms where married couples have some taboo against having sexual intercourse in their parents’ homes.

  35. “When you do this in secret (as she did) then you infringe on the rights of the other parents.”

    I have doubts that that was so. Maybe the other parents just took that posture because they didn’t want it known that they knew there’d be wine & beer available, because maybe then they too could be charged with “contributing to the delinquency of a minor”.

  36. @independent worm

    As much as this pains me to suggest, I think having every American serve mandatory jail time — a weekend, a week, what have you — might cause people to think more sanely about how much time they’re sentencing a person to.

    At this rate, it looks like you’re well on the way to getting your wish.

  37. Robert,

    “I have doubts that that was so.”

    That is how the facts were presented.
    And I am willing to bet it is true.
    I attended a very similar party when in high school…parents were actively kept in the dark. Some probably knew, but you can bet your ass I wouldn’t have been there had mine known.

  38. My simple question is still: How many of the people who believe this woman should be punished absolutely obeyed the drinking age laws in their own state in every particular at every point in their lives?

    Just askin’.

    In the Bork thread there was a discussion about whether Bork’s tort reform campaign against punitive damages should in some way prohibit him from seeking punitive damages himself. I would think that argument has some relevance here, since I would submit that anyone who had so much of a glass of an alcoholic beverage when they were underage should be prohibited from punishing this woman.

  39. Careful with the colloquial phrase “drinking age laws”. Until a few years ago, hardly any jurisdictions had laws against minors drinking or possessing liquor — and even now AFAICT most don’t — as opposed to laws against supplying them with liquor (at least under some circumstances). The effect in most cases may have been to create what appeared to be a “drinking age”, but there were ways to drink legally at any age.

  40. Fluffy,

    I drank when under-aged, but your premise needs adjustment.

    The woman is being punished for undermining the authority of the parents of her son’s friends. Alcohol is a side issue, no matter what Radley says, or how mad MADD is.

  41. horrors!-most underage drinkers get their first taste of alcohol from their parents.

    I did, and I think god almost daily that I did. My parents introduced alcohol to me in a responsible, controlled manner. I will be introducing alcohol to my daughter when the time comes… a time I will decide.

    If she had informed the other children’s parents of what was going on, then there would be no reason for the harsh punishment.

    Neu Mejican:

    There is no reason for the harsh punishment. There may be a reason for some punishment, yes. Perhaps some kind of class on alcohol abuse, or say a three month probation– you know, the kind of thing drunk drivers routinely get in states with so-called zero tolerance for drunk driving?

  42. In SC, you show up to the polls and vote in the primary of your choice. If, as may be the situation, that each party’s presidential primary is on a different date, then if you vote in the first one, you cannot vote in the second one.

    After the primary, you are then “in” the political party where you voted, until the next pimary election. You switch by voting in a primary.

    In other words, check the rules for your state.

  43. This is just another example of the legal system is completely disconnected from the concept of justice.

    I know a woman who deliberately and systematically abused and murdered her infant son. Sentence: 1 year.

    I know two different people who killed others while drunk driving. Sentences: 4 years.

    Anecdotal to be sure, but telling.

    And for the record, I don’t even have any sympathy for this self-righteous parent who is willing to make decisions for other people’s kids based on her own values (because she is ever so much wiser than the rest of the parents)

    First, of all she’s an idiot for doing it and her actions show that she has exceptionally poor judgment given the legal climate we have in America.

    I also say she deserves SOMETHING. Like a smack up side the head. But 27 months in jail? That is utterly ridiculous. A few weekends picking up beer cans along the freeway would have been a little more appropriate. Or maybe a year of unsupervised probation with a couple of extra conditions.

  44. Fluffy,

    From the WP article:

    “”Not only were they serving alcohol to 15- and 16-year-olds, they misled parents who called to ask about alcohol, and they tried to get the kids to cover it up after police got there,” Camblos said”

    This woman infringed on the rights of parents through active deceit.

  45. Paul,

    I have already stated that I think non-violent criminals should not be sent to prison, but pay fines and do community service. But that is not the law on the books.

    If you want to change the laws in Virginia that put non-violent offenders in jail, I would support you %100.

  46. Robert, I can assure you that although some parents look the other way a lot do not. My dad didn’t care who was drinking or who wasn’t or whose parents allowed it and whose didn’t. He went straight to the source. Me. It was very clear that if I ever showed up home drunk he’d kick my ass from here to breakfast, a largely successful technique.

  47. That as long as one is living with parents one should act like a child in that place.

    When someone else pays the bills, they make the rules. These highschool kids likely got to the party in a car partially or fully paid for by their parents, gas money given by their parents, insurance paid for by their parents, and with weekend spending money given by their parents.

    Similarly on sitcoms where married couples have some taboo against having sexual intercourse in their parents’ homes.

    You don’t have sex in your parents’ homes when visiting as a courtesy. They probably don’t care, but then again they probably don’t want to listen either.

  48. Paul,

    “I will be introducing alcohol to my daughter when the time comes… a time I will decide.”

    Not with people like this lady and her husband around.

  49. Alcohol is not a side issue.

    If the lie here was that the woman had told everyone that no Milton Bradley games would be played at the party, and then broke out the Game of Life, no criminal charges would have resulted. Obviously the only reason the deception is relevant in any way is because it involves alcohol.

    The moral posturing against this woman is absolutely rooted in the crusade against the dread social harm of teenage drinking, and I think that anyone who participates in or abets that crusade who also personally drank as a teenager is engaging in rank hypocrisy.

  50. >>You don’t have sex in your parents’ homes when visiting as a courtesy. They probably don’t care, but then again they probably don’t want to listen either.

    What nonsense. Sex is integral to marriage. And it is possible to do it quietly. Or at least it’s fun to try.

  51. Fluffy,

    “If the lie here was that the woman had told everyone that no Milton Bradley games would be played at the party, and then broke out the Game of Life”

    Deep insight that.

    But exchange serving alcohol with any other illegal activity and you get to the same underlying issue…an adult undermining another adults right to set boundaries for their own child. A civil matter until the allowed action is one that is itself against the law.

    I think TWC sums it up nicely.

  52. The woman is being punished for undermining the authority of the parents of her son’s friends. Alcohol is a side issue, no matter what Radley says, or how mad MADD is.

    This is clearly not true. Let’s say that the mother was allowing the showing of some film on DVD in her home of which her son’s strict baptist friends are forbidden to see. Let’s say it’s E.T., The Extraterrestrial, and when asked she lies to the other parents about it (I had friends that were not allowed to see this film when I was a kid). Does the mother deserve 27 months in prison because of this case of “undermining the other parent’s authority?”

    Alcohol is the central issue here, not the authority of the parents.

  53. I suppose I need to type and post faster …

  54. andronoid | June 10, 2007, 11:17am | #
    …Albemarle County is UVA country. Even if its not true in this instance (I don’t know what the actual demographics of Albemarle are like)

    My dad retired in Albemarle county. Went to UVA as marine law student back in the 60s, fell in love with the area…i go down there to visit him about once a year. It’s solidly white/middle-class, lots of families, good schools, zero crime, idyllic really… horse farms, modest but very nice houses (no mcmansions really), rolling country…

    I will add, if I were drunk, i’d definitely kill myself driving around there. Curvy narrow country roads, often limited forward visability. I nearly kill myself driving sober. Great place for an exciting cruise if you happen to own an M5 or a Porsche. Anything that doesnt handle on rails and you will eat a tree/ditch. If wet, forget about it. You have to drive like a granny.

    Anyway, fuck that stupid law. People who are arguing for ‘enforcing the books’ deserve to be audited immediately. The idea of 100% enforcement without discretion or consideration of harm done is bullshit.

  55. When I was about 6 or 7, my dad offered me wine with dinner. He said it was common in many cultures and saw nothing wrong with a small glass with supper. Around the same age my mom let me taste her beer.

    Thanks to my parents I have never really had an interest in drinking. The stuff tasted terrible and I realized I wasnt missing out on anything.

    If my parents had some strange MADD-like fixation with alcohol, sex, etc- perhaps I would have needed to “experiment” more and ended up with “issues.” However, I think I was raised with a healthy concept of reality and judgment and never felt the need to either get into that stuff OR be like these MADD assholes.

  56. …and then broke out the Game of Life, no criminal charges would have resulted. Obviously the only reason the deception is relevant in any way is because it involves alcohol.

    Well, yes, and that would be because it isn’t illegal for teenagers to play the game of Life.

    Here is an example. My daughter has friends who are Adventists. They don’t eat meat. I would never feed their kids a hamburger without asking. And meat isn’t even ILLEGAL for kids to eat.

    And as an aside, if you take my kid to the Church of Scientology without my permission and lie to me about it I am going to be pissed. Really, really pissed.

    Just a couple of stories to illustrate why it isn’t about the alcohol per se. It is about the serious nature of certain activities compared to others.

  57. You don’t have sex in your parents’ homes when visiting as a courtesy. They probably don’t care, but then again they probably don’t want to listen either.

    What nonsense. Sex is integral to marriage. And it is possible to do it quietly. Or at least it’s fun to try.

    Both of these positions are valid. Heh. Dude, he said positions. Hope my mom isn’t reading this.

  58. I remember my girlfriend and i were staying in their parents vacation home…they being asleep across the hall… and she was game…and i was (half) protesting “they’ll hear!!”…

    of course, she was like, “I KNOW”

    Which was one of the first hints that my girlfriend had some teeny-tiny ‘issues’.

  59. And yes, I know that feeding The House Blond’s friends a hamburger won’t get me 27 months in jail but I already said I thought that sentence was absurd.

  60. Well, Gilmore, I can hear it just shriveling up to nothing…….

    🙂

  61. “Alcohol is the central issue here, not the authority of the parents.”

    If this were the case, then they would have charged under the law prohibiting serving alcohol to minors…which carries a $2500 fine and up to one year in jail. Instead, they charge under “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” which carries a heavier range of punishment.

    Why? Because the couple’s actions involved undermining the parental authority of others through deceit. It also included actively encouraging the children to deceive.

    Like I said, non-violent, no need for prison, but to portray this as about solely about unthinking prohibition is disingenuous. If all the parents of all the children in attendance had known alcohol was being served, this would have been a charge of serving minors.

  62. RE: Comments made about the South.

    When posters group “the south” and slur its residents, it only shows the feeblemindedness of the author.

    Fact of the matter is, young people in the South are typically given beer by their families – at BarBQ’s, while fishing, etc. It is no different in that respect than other places. Yes, we have some crazy politicians, but so does every place in the USA. And also, calling VA “south” is a bit naive.

  63. “And also, calling VA “south” is a bit naive.”

    Especially when one is talking about freaking Charlottesville. Its politics are even farther left than Northern VA.

  64. I support TWC’s and Neu Mejican’s poitn of view. I once chaperoned a youth group’s outing to a ball park. Some of the kids got their hands on booze because I wasn’t paying enough attention. No one got drunk, but I felt that I had to apologize to their parents because I was the responsible adult they trusted their kids with.

    Something about this story makes me doubt the “no one got intoxicated” bit. Apparently, this dinner party drew enough attention that someone called the cops for underaged drinking. Although there were 30 kids there, some managed to scramble off into the woods when the cops showed up. Of the sixteen caught by police, only nine had been drinking and none were intoxicated. But she spend $340 on beer and wine. Seems to me the worst drinkers had the most incentive to head for the hills.

    Also, the DA originally reccomended 90 days in jail (The judge upped the punishment to 8 years because one of the kids schoolmates was killed in an unrelated drunk driving incident). 90 days seems right for underminging the rights of the other families involved.

  65. Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney James L. Camblos III, who prosecuted the parents, said it was the worst case of underage drinking he has had to deal with in 15 years.

    Since Charlottesville and the University of Virginia are not technically in Albemarle County, this is on a par with saying “In all my years as a political reporter covering the Capitol Beltway beat these are the most politicians I’ve ever seen in 15 years.”

  66. The charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor is only coherent if giving teenagers alcohol contributes to their delinquency, so we’re right back to the propriety of the drinking age laws once more.

    I would like to know if TWC and Neu Mejican consumed any alcoholic beverage in any amount prior to their 21st birthday.

    When I was 17 I’m sure I drank a beer handed to me by someone who was 21. Did that person contribute to the delinquency of a minor? Fuck that noise.

  67. KLL | June 10, 2007, 1:40pm | #
    RE: Comments made about the South.

    When posters group “the south” and slur its residents, it only shows the feeblemindedness of the author.

    Who the fuck slurred about southerners?

    Oh the Jazz Discharge guy… dude, I’ve never seen him before. Not a local.

    And yeah, virginia is certainly no hillbilly country (at least aside from super-west of the state). Genteel as can be. hardly what people would call the ‘south’ for their silly stereotypes. As mentioned, Arbemarle is pretty well-heeled to boot.

    Now Alabama on the other hand… 🙂

  68. It’s an outrage!
    She should have received the full sentence!
    The Factor is watching this one.

  69. If you think VA isn’t hillbilly you’ve never been to Highland County, VA and that whole general area of the state.

  70. “I would like to know if TWC and Neu Mejican consumed any alcoholic beverage in any amount prior to their 21st birthday.”

    I have already said I did.
    And I did so in violation of my parent’s rules.

    Kids often do things that are against the rules.

    What has that got to do with this couple’s decision to actively deceive other parents about an activity that they knew was both illegal and, probably, against the wishes of at least some of the parents (why else lie?).

    It seems central to libertarian philosophy to take the rights of the other parents seriously. And it seems that the behavior of the couple clearly violated those rights. These actions took place in a legal context you might disagree with, but that, I still say, is not the central issue.

  71. “When I was 17 I’m sure I drank a beer handed to me by someone who was 21. Did that person contribute to the delinquency of a minor?”

    Yep, by definition.
    “Contributing” leaves plenty of room for the 17 year-old’s responsibility for his/her own actions. The adult is simply contributing.

  72. I suggest all concerned parents watch this instructional video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bhhs0WyK7Ww

  73. Fluffy,

    To expand this a bit…consider the “shop lifting party” suggested above. Theft is an activity that is unambiguously a violation of other’s rights, so enforcement of anti-theft laws should not provide any difficulty from a libertarian standpoint. Some parents, however, don’t have a problem with theft, and may feel that the parents who prohibit the behavior in their children are just being prudes.

    So they set up a shoplifting outing with their children and let them invite their friends. They lie to the friends parents about the activity, encourage the kids to lie about the activity, because they know there are community standards (also called laws) against this behavior.

    They get caught after $3.00 worth of gum is taken.

    Is the correct punishment to pay the $3 to the store owner?

  74. I figure my kids did enough batin’ in my house when they were younger, that a little bit of good Christian married humping isn’t gonna sully their bedrooms now that they’re grown up.

  75. What nonsense. Sex is integral to marriage.

    Integral yes – does that mean we allow it anywhere you’d like?

    Nope – mainly because there’s a time and place for everything.

    Disclaimer – this isn’t a “moral” thought, but one of courtesy – so each to their own. Additionally depending upon specifics, my thought would change. For instance actually living w/parents for a time period versus staying for a weekend.

    And it is possible to do it quietly. Or at least it’s fun to try.

    Completely agree.

  76. >I buy for underage kids every few weeks, but only if they ask me. …giving your kids what they ask (and pay) for.< Matt

    Matt, you say that proudly on the net,
    but you expect it to be kept quiet at home.
    You can do your time, when the time comes.

  77. “You don’t have sex in your parents’ homes without letting them watch as a courtesy. They probably don’t care, but then again they probably don’t want to just listen either.”

    There, fixed that for you.

  78. Fluff, I think the drinking age s/b about 12-14 years old, so we don’t have a problem with that.

    Full Disclosure: I believe that I had a taste of beer and of Gallo before I was 18. But I do mean a taste only. Like in one sip.

    My buddy Jim Beam came to my 18th birthday party along with a half dozen lovely young girls and my friend Brian. Mr Beam convinced me that I should spend the evening in the back yard with the dog licking barf off my face after nearly blowing off half my fingers with firecrackers (my b/d is New Years Eve).

    Had I been offered some prior instruction in the art of drinking I would have spent some quality time with that sweet little red head Margie, instead of that got dam Samoyed. I still kick myself over that.

    I also would have passed on Jim Beam for something a little less rotgut.

    It was a hard lesson but I have not repeated that feat but twice since, and it has been longer ago than I care to think about.

    For the record, Lynette’s parents were in Vegas (she was 18). They didn’t know we were partying at the house.

    More than you wanted to know regards, TWC

  79. And so now, this kid has no mother for the remainder of his adolescence. It would be ironic if, without his mother’s oversight, the kid turns to heavy drinking, staying out all night, drinking and driving, and killing someone on the road.

    I doubt MADD & CNN would spin that as anything other than proof of the mother’s criminal negligence in exposing her child to demon rum in the first place.

    If the mother did lie to parents (which I’m not going to believe just because this slimeball DA claims it), she was wrong. At the same time, she was probably the person acting the most responsible manner of anyone in this story (although $340 worth of wine and beer for the 9 kids who were actually drinking does sound a bit excessive).

  80. Adults have to take responsibility for their actions.

    Which is exactly what is wrong with the idea of the 21 year old (or more so 25) minimum drinking age laws. You don’t learn to take responsibility by passing some magic birthday, you do so with practice under supervision. Many people only learn by screwing up. It would be much better to learn in parties like this one than down at the local hang-out.

    You don’t have sex in your parents’ homes when visiting as a courtesy. They probably don’t care, but then again they probably don’t want to listen either.

    Why not? We had to listen to them. Besides, a couple of years after we got married it was, “Well it’s time for bed. We’d stay up longer if we had grandchildren to play with. Hint. Hint.”

  81. Scooby

    Would you believe the other parents?

    “she was probably the person acting the most responsible manner of anyone in this story (although $340 worth of wine and beer for the 9 kids who were actually drinking does sound a bit excessive).”

    More so than, say, the parents who called her to inquire regarding whether there would be liquor at the party, expecting an honest answer?

  82. LarryA,

    “You don’t learn to take responsibility by passing some magic birthday, you do so with practice under supervision. Many people only learn by screwing up. It would be much better to learn in parties like this one than down at the local hang-out.”

    Absolutely, I agree. But it is not this couple’s responsibility to supervise that experience without the consent of the other parents.

  83. TWC-

    Be glad your first introduction to drunkeness was Jim Beam and not (as in my case) Aristocrat Vodka.

  84. Absolutely, I agree. But it is not this couple’s responsibility to supervise that experience without the consent of the other parents.

    So, naturally, to express their displeasure, the other parents should get the police involved. Because the law has to be invovled in everything these days.

  85. Abdul,
    “Also, the DA originally reccomended 90 days in jail (The judge upped the punishment to 8 years because one of the kids schoolmates was killed in an unrelated drunk driving incident).”

    Dear God!! Nobody at Virginia Tech better EVER get caught doing anything!

  86. Tacos MMMM.

    “So, naturally, to express their displeasure, the other parents should get the police involved. Because the law has to be invovled in everything these days.”

    I don’t know if the other parents were the ones that got the police involved. The community set up some standards that were implemented by agents/mechanisms the community task with enforcement of those standards.

    The couple living in that community knew (or should have known) what those standards were, and how they were enforced.

  87. ummm

    “tasked”

  88. Be glad your first introduction to drunkeness was Jim Beam and not (as in my case) Aristocrat Vodka.

    I dunno, Tacos, I still to this day cannot stomach the aroma of whiskey or any of it’s brethren. For twenty years after just that smell would make my tummy rumble.

  89. Tacos MMM

    Let us say that in the city of Libertopia theft is outlawed and enforcement is implemented by a voluntary cadre of police officers.

    Person A steals from Person B.

    Person B is displeased, but determines not to press charges.

    Do the other people in Libertopia have an interest in intervening and providing a consequence to Person A to discourage future theft?

  90. Neu –

    The difference in your example is that I unabashedly agree that shoplifting should be against the law.

    In the instance of a shoplifting party, what we have there is a conspiracy to commit robbery. Anyone who tries to set up an Oliver Twist party should be prosecuted.

    But if we’re talking about an activity I don’t think should be illegal in the first place, I’m just not going to get on board.

    To go back to the Milton Bradley example, if you belonged to some bizarre sect that hated board games, and I lied to you about having board games in my house, and your kid came over and played board games, you could whine all you wanted about how I “interfered with your right to raise your child” but your only legal recourse should be to never let me supervise your kid again. Your house, your rules – my house, my rules. Keep your kid out of my house if you don’t like my rules.

    I don’t think it should be any more illegal for a 16 year old to drink a beer than to play a board game (A). Therefore, I don’t agree with this prosecution. Therefore, to agree with this prosecution, you either have to believe in the drinking laws (B), or you have to think that the drinking laws should be enforced even if they’re unjust (C).

    That’s why I asked if you ever broke the drinking laws yourself. I would take the act of breaking the drinking laws as an implicit admission that at one point in time you agreed with (A).

  91. NM: “Would you believe the other parents?”

    If we heard from any of the parents, probably. Since it is only the scumbag DA claiming it, I don’t. He also claims that the mother got the kids to gargle vinegar to hide the alcohol. If he said that the Sun rose in the East and set in the West, I’d have to watch out the window to check for myself.

    NM: “Absolutely, I agree. But it is not this couple’s responsibility to supervise that experience without the consent of the other parents.”

    I would say that parents that don’t introduce their offspring to alcohol in a responsible manner (and other common dangers) are bad parents. Just as if they didn’t teach them to cross the street without looking both ways, they are setting their kids up to be a danger to themselves and to society.

    So in that respect, yes: the mom going to the clink is more responsible that the parents upset that a drop of demon rum crossed their precious babies’ mouths in a supervised party where noone made it even to .08%BAC and noone was going to operate heavy machinery.

  92. I also agree with Neu Mejican and TWC, but in light of this “I understand the need to charge her-she apparently lied to the parents of the kids her son invited.” I think they are being a little hard on Radley.

  93. But then Radley strikes me as a guy who’s tough enough to not need my help.

  94. Neu Mejican,

    “This woman infringed on the rights of parents through active deceit.”

    I agree she shouldn’t have lied to the parents but what is this issue with parents rights?

    I think parents have obligations not rights. They’re obligated protect and provide for their children. They require some legally defined authority to meet their obligations but I wouldn’t describe this as a right.

    I can’t get the idea of parents exercising their “rights” and indoctrinating their children into to a specific religion. It’s a bit off topic but it pops into my head whenever I hear of parental rights.

  95. Be glad your first introduction to drunkeness was Jim Beam and not (as in my case) Aristocrat Vodka.

    My first was a Miller. And I’m still trying to get rid of the aftertaste all these years later!

  96. StupendousMan,

    “I think parents have obligations not rights. They’re obligated protect and provide for their children. They require some legally defined authority to meet their obligations but I wouldn’t describe this as a right.”

    I am not sure how “legally defined authority to meet their obligation” is different in practice than a right to exercise the authority to meet their obligation.

    Isaac,

    Radley acknowledges the need to charge, but he implies (as I read it) that the desire for prohibition is the motivator in this case. I think the fact that the couple was charged not with “serving” but with “contributing to the delinquency” is a clear sign that the central question was not the alcohol but the interference with parental authority.

    Fluffy,

    “Therefore, to agree with this prosecution, you either have to believe in the drinking laws (B), or you have to think that the drinking laws should be enforced even if they’re unjust (C).”

    Believing in the rule of law and due process for changing those laws is not the same as believing that the laws currently on the books are ideal. You have presented a false dichotomy.

    In addition. My behaviors at 16 certainly do not dictate my current beliefs more than 2 decades later.

  97. Fair enough, Neu Mejican.

  98. Don’t know VA’s stats for time served,
    but if this is a class B felony,
    the mother might get out in less than a year,
    and the father, being a man, a little more.
    I don’t know, but that’s my guess.

    Supplemental data involved would consider for sure the following:
    -number of victims, (she had 21 of them)
    -ages of all victims,(she had 15 & 16yo minors)
    -manner of acting out the crime
    (her position of authority,
    (lying to other parents
    (in her favor, they were IN her home,
    (not in her favor, IN her care)
    – duration of the act(one night, few hours),
    – type of weapon used,(none used)
    – mode of inflicting injury,(none)
    – offender/victim relationship,(friend)
    – alcohol use by offender/victim (YES)
    – gender of the victim, (all boys,much better)
    – and some things that slip my mind.

    She
    – planned this,
    – got $340 dollars of alcohol,
    – was questioned by other parents
    (warning of wrong),
    – had ample time to reconsider,
    – is said to have tried to cover it up.

    The 16yo whose birthday it was,
    dropped out of school, blaming it on this.
    He is said to be suffering great guilt,
    thinking he was the real guilty one.
    He must have had more control than a 16yo should, and probably talked his mom into it.
    The mother is telling him the contrary,
    owning up to being the adult, the parent.
    Hope the kid does learn to handle this.
    Hope he doesn’t numb out using alcohol.
    Who will get the blame for that?

    About the coverage of this on this forum,
    I’d like to see all facts from both sides,
    not the one sided points made with comments.
    The lead ins seem too slanted at times.
    (I enjoy the comments, sarcastic or not,
    which along with replies make this forum fun)

    Interestingly, it seems we focus on the mother,
    with little mention of the father’s part.
    Is that due to men being less sympathic?
    (Men get rare deals in the courts,
    and in the court of public opinion)

  99. “But if we’re talking about an activity I don’t think should be illegal in the first place, I’m just not going to get on board.”

    The law doesn’t require you to get on board.

    For every standard, no matter what it is, there will be those that think it shouldn’t be illegal in the first place.

    You jumped right on the “theft should be illegal” bandwagon… that position, however, is no less arbitrary than the one determined by the community in VA that says no one under 16 should be served alcohol except by their parents. Until that community is convinced to change their arbitrary law, prosecutions should be based on the current policy.

  100. Fluff, I don’t necessarily believe a crime has been committed if you drive drunk provided you get from point A to point B safely.

    That said, anyone who drives drunk has no room to complain when they get popped for doing so.

    It’s not like we don’t know the rules. Right or wrong. It is illegal to drive drunk and it is illegal to give teenagers 350 bucks worth of liquor.

    It is also a fact that 16 year olds are not legally entitled to make their own decisions (except to get abortions) and that the parents are responsible for the stupid decisions their offspring make.

    This woman imposed her values and exposed other people’s kids to the threat of arrest for violating a law that everybody in the US with an IQ over 68 knows exists.

    Now, if 14 year olds are ever considered legal adults (as they more or less once were) then I’ll be right there with you.

    And again, I think the sentence was extremely harsh and totally out of proportion to the crime.

  101. It was common in the 70’s to have parents allow alcohol at teenager gatherings. Good or bad, I do not know. But if the 70’s (my generation) should have a name that does not include disco, it would be “generation erased”.

  102. And, in this case, the law in VA is that you as an adult do not have the right, even as a parent, to give minors permission to break existing laws.

  103. NM, I disagree, the act of thievery being illegal is not arbitrary at all. Depriving someone of legally acquired property is a moral affront and is the equivalent of taking the portion of that person’s life that he/she was willing to forgo in order to slave in some sweatshop to earn the money to buy the TV that some sleazeball ripped off. Nothing arbitrary about morality.

    OTOH, community standards for drinking ages and conditions are arbitrary whether or not you agree they are necessary. Mrs TWC was responsible enough to drink at 10. Her father is still not responsible enough to be trusted with alcohol. But society drew the line at 21 (used to be 18 in some places). That line is unconnected to morality nor is it even connected to responsible drinking as some people can handle booze and some can’t and some never will and some learn.

  104. And as fun as this has been, I’ve got to bail because Ms TWC’s plane is landing in an hour and if I ain’t there, I’ll be on the couch for a week.

    Cheers!

  105. TWC,

    I recognize the libertarian argument against theft…

    I still hold that it is an arbitrary line.

    Property rights are a derived right(not primary like the right to control your body) with a history of philosophical disagreement over their basis.

    I think theft is immoral also, but I don’t buy into it being a special class of action on par with violations of primary rights (i.e. murder). It is an act against a historically determined cultural moral code, and therefore arbitrary to that degree.

  106. Property rights are a derived right(not primary like the right to control your body)

    If I’m the only one who is willing to venture from the cave to acquire some water, the water is mine. Humans are real and water is necessary for their survival. The right to acquire property to that end is beyond debate. There is nothing ‘derived’ about it.

  107. It is an act against a historically determined cultural moral code, and therefore arbitrary to that degree.

    Sometimes its handy being a Christian (or Jew or moslem or some other types of believer). Your “historically determined cultural moral code” was decreed by the creator of the universe, which makes it a lot less arbitrary.

    I think jkii is right, you dont need to argue it from a God-declared direction, but its a nice short cut for some of us.

  108. MADD is so insane they have actually stated their desire to raise the legal drinking age to 25 if it had any chance of success.

    Not 25, but a “incremental upgrade” instead.

    The idea is restrict alcohol and tobacco consumption to those people born after a fixed date, say January 1, 1985. This way, while MADD and their ilk can’t do much with those people who are already allowed to drink, they at least can stop future generations from doing so.

    And by extension, apply generational peer pressure on their elders…

  109. The idea is restrict alcohol and tobacco consumption to those people born after a fixed date, say January 1, 1985.

    Whoops. Make that before a fixed date.

    Must be a side-effect of the hangover…

  110. Paris Hilton got 45/23 days for actually driving drunk then playing loose with her probation. The Virginia woman got 810 days. It is a bizarre day when someone who supervises (and lies about) a teen drinking party where no drivers were put at risk gets 18 to 35 times the sentence of somebody who actually creates a menace on the road. Parents have a right to get angry, but they really need to get a grip.

  111. “If I’m the only one who is willing to venture from the cave to acquire some water, the water is mine. Humans are real and water is necessary for their survival. The right to acquire property to that end is beyond debate. There is nothing ‘derived’ about it.”

    You picked an interesting case… water rights.

    Theft, in this case, requires that you define your right to exclusive access to the water I need to survive as somehow more important than my right to the water. My right to survival is a primary right and, therefore, takes priority over your right to exclusive control of the resource…it could be argued.

    The right to exclusive access to resources is derived from the utility in clearly defining these things to avoid violent resolution of the conflict over access… it is not inherent or beyond debate.

    If it was beyond debate there wouldn’t be such a long history of strife between those that fall on different sides of the question.

    Some reading for you…
    http://www.mondopolitico.com/library/pjproudhon/whatisproperty/toc.htm

  112. ‘”Therefore, to agree with this prosecution, you either have to believe in the drinking laws (B), or you have to think that the drinking laws should be enforced even if they’re unjust (C).”

    Believing in the rule of law and due process for changing those laws is not the same as believing that the laws currently on the books are ideal. You have presented a false dichotomy.’

    No, I didn’t. Your paragraph falls completely under (C). I gave you that as one of the choices. If your position is included in my range of choices, how exactly did I set up a false dichotomy?

    You think the laws should be enforced even if they’re less than ideal.

    I think the laws that are not ideal should be actively evaded and their enforcement resisted.

    We won’t agree on the prosecution because we don’t begin with the same philosophy of law.

    I also imagine I wouldn’t have seen you at any Underground Railroad meetings. Oh well.

    “You jumped right on the “theft should be illegal” bandwagon… that position, however, is no less arbitrary than the one determined by the community in VA that says no one under 16 should be served alcohol except by their parents. Until that community is convinced to change their arbitrary law, prosecutions should be based on the current policy.”

    Tell me, is the law against theft just as arbitrary as the Nuremburg Laws and the Fugitive Slave Act? Do they all exist at the same level of arbitrariness? Is the law that makes it a crime to hand alcohol to a 20 year old Marine more or less arbitrary than any or all of these?

  113. “Theft, in this case, requires that you define your right to exclusive access to the water I need to survive as somehow more important than my right to the water. My right to survival is a primary right and, therefore, takes priority over your right to exclusive control of the resource…it could be argued.

    The right to exclusive access to resources is derived from the utility in clearly defining these things to avoid violent resolution of the conflict over access… it is not inherent or beyond debate.”

    What’s inherent and beyond debate is that I left the cave and you didn’t, and I carried the water and you didn’t.

    So if you don’t trade me something for the water [or pay me a wage to bring in the water] I’ll dump the water out on the floor so we both go thirsty.

  114. I don’t know Virginia’s policies regarding time served. But if this is a Class B felony, the mother might get out in less than a year and the father, being a man, a little later.

    Factors that would surely be considered:
    — number of victims (21)
    — ages of victims (who included 15- and 16-year-olds)
    — gender of the victims (all male, which works in her favor)
    — her manner during the crime (e.g., her position of authority, her lying)
    — duration of the crime (a few hours)
    — type of weapon (none)
    — mode of inflicting injury (none)
    — relationship with the victims (friend)
    — alcohol use by offender and victim (yes)

    (There are other factors commonly considered, but they have slipped my mind.)

    She planned this, bought $340 dollars’ worth of alcohol, was questioned and warned by other parents, had ample time to reconsider, and is said to have attempted a cover-up.

    The 16-year-old son later dropped out of school and blamed it on this incident, which was part of his birthday celebration. He is said to suffer great guilt because he thinks this was his fault. He must have had more sway over his parents than a 16-year-old should, and probably talked his mom into hosting the party.

    The mother, owning up to her adult role, is telling him the contrary. I hope the kid learns to handle this and doesn’t numb out using alcohol. Who will get the blame for that?

    It’s interesting that we focus on the mother with little mention of the father’s role. Is that because men are less sympathetic? Men get raw deals in the courts (including the court of public opinion).

    As an aside: The Hit & Run posts about this topic seem too slanted at times. I’d like to see all facts from both sides. I do enjoy the reader comments — sarcastic or not, they make this forum fun.

  115. The false dichotomy exists because your are assuming that my support for prosecution under the “contributing to the delinquency” statue requires that I agree with the drinking age law.

    “I think the laws that are not ideal should be actively evaded and their enforcement resisted.”

    I think that laws that are not ideal should be lobbied against with an eye to changing them. Laws that are violations of basic rights should be actively evaded and their enforcement resisted… starting with due process under the law, utilizing legal mechanisms for challenging those laws, but including extra legal means when needed. So, yeah, you would have seen me at those underground railroad meetings, but also in the public square working to change the laws.

  116. “What’s inherent and beyond debate is that I left the cave and you didn’t, and I carried the water and you didn’t.”

    The mixing labor with the property argument is not a new one to me…many better minds than mine have addressed it and found it to be an unsatisfactory premise upon which to base rights.

    Once you get past your simple example, things get complicated. What if your labor involves building a fence around the water source? Does your right to exclusive access still stand?

  117. Laws or sentencing that you are against,
    you can be against now, before an event.
    What are sentencing guidelines in your state?
    Guys bold as Matt might do well to find out.

    Check out this guy in NC, last month,
    who let underage girls (14,15,16-he’s 39)
    drink in his club, where he’s abouncer,
    then took them home to drink some more.

    One of the girls took a pix in the club
    and put it on her myspace.com account.
    The mother saw that, called the law.
    He was arrested, charged with CttDMinor,
    but check out the sentence he got.

    http://www.crimeincharlotte.com/2007/03/man-arrested-for-giving-alcohol-to.html

    Alcohol, the universal sexual lubricant,
    but a big improvement over the original,
    a big club.

  118. If you are opposed to certain laws or sentencing rules, you can be against them now, before an incident. What are the sentencing guidelines in your state? Those as bold as the commenter Matt might be well served — pardon the pun — to find out.

    There was a 39-year-old club bouncer in North Carolina who last month let three underage girls drink in his club before taking them to his home to drink more.

    One of the girls took photos in the club and posted them on her MySpace page. Her mother saw them and called the police. The bouncer was arrested and charged with three counts of contributing to the deliquency of a minor. But check out the sentence he got:

    http://www.crimeincharlotte.com/2007/03/man-arrested-for-giving-alcohol-to.html

    Alcohol is the universal sexual lubricant. But it’s a big improvement over the original: a big club.

  119. NM,

    I dont think Fluffy is arguing exclusive access. He is claiming property rights to the water he brought back.

    Not that there isnt an exclusive access argument, Fluffy just hasnt brought it up.

  120. My right to survival is a primary right

    You will die, with or without the primary right to survival.

  121. And, in this case, the law in VA is that you as an adult do not have the right, even as a parent, to give minors permission to break existing laws.

    No, in fact in Virginia “[i]ndividuals under 21 may be hanksserved alcohol with their parent’s consent, in the parent’s residence. The parent is not required to be present, as long as he/she has given consent, nor is an adult required to be present.”

    Now in this case the accused is not blameless. Even with parental consent it is illegal in Virginian for a minor to consume alcohol outside of his/her parents residence.

    This is all thanks to this excellent site credit to an unremembered Hit&Runner.

  122. Wow. 27 months for giving alchohol to some kid. Here in Europe, alcohol (beer) was even served at some school parties under supervision of teachers. The worst thing that could happen was to drive your bicycle into the gutter after the party. Why isn’t MADD trying to raise the driving age to 25 instead? Bunch of hypocritical thugs.

  123. Robc,

    Yeah, I am keeping up. I just think the example is so narrow as to provide little support for the more general claim that theft is a violation of a primary right. Schematic examples can help hash out the principles involved, but they need to be reasonably aligned with the structures in reality.

    And to be clear. He is claiming exclusive rights to the water he brought back to the cave, so he is make an exclusive access claim. His claim is based on the idea that the work he did to get the water gives him an inherent right to exclusive access to that water.

    Notice that his right to that water is derived from the combination of his labor and the natural resource. Even at this basic level property rights are derived, not primary.

  124. Isaac,

    Nice information… but it does not contradict my point at all. The law simply includes provisions for parents to allow their children to drink legally, not to break a law.

  125. Anyway,

    That’s all I got for today.
    I will just be (even more) redundant from here on out if I continue.

  126. Drink of the children!

  127. Neu Mejican,

    I was not trying to contradict your point at all. In fact, I was seeking areas of agreement.

    And, I think on the broad points we agree.

  128. On the drinking hysteria, see the amusing sociologist who has made it a lifetime work, Joseph R. Gusfield

    1. _The Culture of Public Problems : Drinking-driving and the symbolic order_, U Chicago 1981

    2. _Contested Meanings : The construction of alcohol problems_, U Wisc. 1996

    The latter generalizes the political moves, namely inventing a public problem, cutting off debate before it happens, and taking ownership of the problem, as the route to political power. Gusfield was interested in this more general phenomenon, using alcohol as a good instance of it.

    He writes very well, like the late Erving Goffman, with some sense of irony.

    MADD was initially friendly towards him until they realized he was interested in the sociology and not the public problem.

    Oh, and as my late friend F.T.Grampp said of MADD, “If it weren’t for the drunks, a lot of them wouldn’t be mothers.”

  129. Isaac,

    Sorry. I was thrown off by your “No, in fact”

    I agree that we broadly agree on the broad points.

    I wonder if we have similar taste in broads as well? (^_^)

  130. Since Charlottesville and the University of Virginia are not technically in Albemarle County, . . .

    Charlottesville is not technically in Albemarle County, but the University of Virginia is. The city charter defines the boundaries of the city, but specifically states that portions of the grounds of the University of Virginia located within those boundaries are nonetheless not part of the city. Since enactment of the charter (in 1946, IIRC), the University has purchased land within the city, and that property didn’t suddenly become part of the county as a consequence of the purchase, but the core Grounds (such as the Lawn, the Range, and the Monroe Hill, Observatory Road, and Alderman Road dorms) remain part of Albemarle County, not the City of Charlottesville.

  131. I’m sorry I’m late to the thread, if only because I enjoyed the “first drunk” stories. I had the unusual experience of turning what was then the legal age of 18 in July, 1981, six weeks before the drinking age rose to 19 in Texas. My dorm had a “last legal night” party on August 31 of that year. Naturally, and for the first time in my life, I got utterly smashed on screwdrivers. It was ten years before even the smell of oranges didn’t make me a little sick. And when I say “smell,” I mean walking past the citrus bins in the grocery store. General Tso’ chicken. My mom’s Orange Spice Renuzit. ANYTHING orange. It was by far the most effective temperance lesson ever delivered.

    That said, I’d be livid with this woman, although her sentence is beyond absurd. It’s the lying to the parents who asked that’s the problem, but there are other avenues for that, including a few weeks of community service. The fact that no one got hurt is, to me, the most significant factor.

    Oh, and when my sons get old enough to want to drink, I WILL NOT serve them screwdrivers.

  132. The first time I drank after many years was a couple of months ago when me and all of my roommates went to a bar and got drunk…utterly shittfaced.
    For many weeks afterwards my nickname was “screwdriver.”

  133. “DJ,” Rendered Legible And Without The Affectation, from mailto:me@ReadersAgainstBadWriting.com

    Exxxxxccccuuuusssssmmmmmeee!!!
    a la an earlier & funnier Steve Martin,
    for not writing as you like.

    But thanks for reminding me
    of three of the four reasons
    I had to stop posting here
    three years ago…I must conform.

  134. Just because she tried to be prudent, and nothing bad happened, doesn’t mean that the teens were not at risk.

    It is possible that if the police had not been alerted, enough alchohol would have been consumed to put them at risk. Any number of things could occur. A girl and a guy get loosened up enough so she gets knocked up in an upstairs bedroom, a teen on medication drinks a little and falls off a balcony, or drowns in a swimming pool….

    The world’s best mom? Hardly kiddo!! A good mom would have said: “I ain’t buyin, you’re grounded if you’re caught, and you can’t use the family car for six months.”

    The fact is, the boy pleaded with his mom to break the law. She said, “I’m not a criminal, just a mom.”

    Not true, she is a mom who indulged in criminal behavior.

    27 months is stiff, but are others out there who are much more in need of sympathy.

  135. I wonder if we have similar taste in broads as well? (^_^)

    HEY, why not, we’re guys after all.

  136. Oh, Dougie…

    ‘Splain it to me, please, how, if consumption of alcohol below the age of twenty-one years – especially under the watchful eyes of one’s elders – is so horrible and fraught with risk…

    Why has Europe not dissolved into oblivion?

    Hell, for that matter: why am I even here to reply to your post?

    JMJ
    (Who has watched, as a TA in several of these United States’ finer institutions of higher education, “kids” who have had parents who’d followed your advice end up overdosing on alcohol, precisely because they were finally able to sample the “forbidden fruit” and didn’t know how to handle it.)

  137. While I’m at it, for the benefit of all (regardless of age) who may be reading:

    Ethyl alcohol is easily derived via yeast and sugar. Google “wine-making” for example.

    (Yep – I was doing exactly that, using my granddad’s recipes – from my high school years, to present. Consider this a general “fuck you” to all neo-prohibitionists, especially MADD.)

    JMJ

  138. This is why I believe prosecutors should be appointed not elected. It won’t completely solve the problem but it will help. I remind folks it was as a rabid prosecutor that Rudy Guilinazi earned his political strips.

    Best solution is private for profit courts, then folks could not indulge their prejudices and whims without digging in their own pockets.

  139. Hey,

    Couldn’t disagree with you more.

    By the way, I have enough compassion to feel sympathy for ALL the victims of injustice.

  140. Meant to say Hey Dougie, in last post.

  141. Crap like this is why I joined DAMM: Drunks Against Mad Mothers.

  142. Someone mentioned that UVA was in the same county. I remember UVA used to win the Playboy party school of the year poll so often that one year playboy declared them ineligible because they lost their amateur status. That was the year a bunch of students had a kegger in the back of a rented moving van. The drunks rocked the van and tipped it over while traveling to a game. Lot of folks were seriously injured and some died.

  143. A first time: a joint, a case of Miller High Life, and two fifteen-year-old boys in the woods behind the house on a Friday night.

    Puking still-carbonated Miller High Life like Krakatoa erupting has a way of putting one off of beer for a good long while. Much more effectively than the DARE program.

  144. Jim Bob,
    you’re being a bit generous calling Miller High Life a beer. I’d sooner drink horse urine than that swill. (I know the label says “The Champagne of Beers” but I wouldn’t classify it as champagne either.)

  145. Just about every person who made a comment has the mentality of a 16 year old or has shit for brains. Damn right she should serve hard time, maybe the rest of you free thinkers will think twice about doing the same dumb and illegial thing she did. By the way, what if she had supplied them with a couple bags of grass to smoke? I guess that would have been ok too as long as they weren’t going to drive home.
    I don’t know how I got on this idiot site but I’ll try my best to find one a bit more sane.

  146. Neu Mejican –

    Land is much more problematic than the product of work, I’ll grant you that.

    Doug, Jim –

    Unless you consumed absolutely no alcohol before your 21st birthday, your comments are worthless.

    You’re damn right I’m commenting as if I was 16 years old. When I was 16, I drank if I felt like it, when I could arrange it. I did not then and do not now concede for a moment to you Carrie Nation bitches that I did anything in even the slightest bit wrong. I was absolutely in the right then, and I see now reason to change my mind about it now that I’m pushing 40.

    Some of the more contemptible among you also drank when you were 16, but have decided now that drinking is now wrong for 16 year old’s. You flatter yourselves that the change in your opinion reflects wisdom or maturity, when what it likely reflects is a profound hypocrisy at the root of your natures. I have to discount a wisdom that, conveniently, leads you to advocate restricting the activity of others [and not yourselves], after engaging in that activity yourselves.

  147. I remind folks it was as a rabid prosecutor that Rudy Guilinazi earned his political strips.

    Ummmm, Benito Giulianni was a FEDERAL prosecutor. Those boys are appointed.

  148. I don’t know how I got on this idiot site but I’ll try my best to find one a bit more sane.

    Believe me, Jim, no one here will miss you.

    Don’t let the screen door hit you in the ass on your way out.

  149. Thank you. Your comments proved my point. Your line of reasoning is so screwed up that by your logic if I have done something that is harmful I should not tell my kids not to do it. And I did drink before I was 16 and did a lot of other dumb ass stuff too and I don’t know why I didn’t die alone the way. So you made 40. Hope you make 60 in one piece.
    Hope you all have a good time knocking the “establishment”
    The door did miss me.

  150. So….anyone have any thoughts on the Sopranos finale?

  151. So….anyone have any thoughts on the Sopranos inale?

    Shhh. I’m two seasons behind and watching on DVD.

  152. Sopranos finale?
    They sang off key and messed up on the arrio.
    I think they need more voice lessions.

  153. Jim, somebody put a fargin’ burr in your saddle or are you just a jerk?

  154. No burr, it’s just that I go all growed up and then the right side of my brain connected to the left side of my brain and I guess that’s when I became a jerk. And I do love poking a stick in your cage. Haven’t had this much fun with my clothes on in a hitch. Ride ’em cowboy!

  155. The door did miss me.

    Oh, good. Apparently so did everything else. 🙂

  156. Like the point here.

  157. The Authorized Version runs:

    Don’t let the door hit ya
    Whener the Good Lord split ya.

    Just sayin’.

  158. Sir, I need you to step out of the car, please.

  159. “So….anyone have any thoughts on the Sopranos finale?”

    I liked it

    I was happy they didn’t break character or continuity.

    Anyone ever noticed the class hatred and fear in much of the media criticicm of the show?
    Not to mention the moralising

  160. 27 months for this? Couldn’t the parents punish their own children and refuse to let them hang out with the son or atteend any future parties? Oh yeah. The mother lied to some parents. I guess they could ostacize her from the PTA, shun her in the grocery store, and give her dirty looks in church.

  161. “By the way, what if she had supplied them with a couple bags of grass to smoke?”

    Beer? Grass? Oh, the humanity! Next thing you know they’ll be selling their bodies for crack!

  162. usual cute reaction from reason types…kinda strange though since the underage drinking thing is so rebellious in a conformist sort of way

  163. Oh, sorry Cesar, didn’t mean to call you Tacos. Ooops.

  164. I feel for these parents. I can’t get my 15 yr old son to loosen up. Just this weekend I had a six of Mickey’s Big Mouths available and a four pack of Mike’s Hard Lime. I thought he was doing pretty well, but then I noticed he only had two limes. And one was only half drank. Granted, it was drank at 9 in the morning. But only half? What the fuck, At his age I would have polished it off and asked for more.

    Just two or three weeks ago we were at my bud’s house shootin guns. I had a Calico M-950 (you guys who aren’t fags know this baby holds 50 rounds of 9). The little fuck only popped off 20 or 30 rounds before he was shootin the 12 gauge pump at some clays. Yes, clays! They don’t even fight back. What a puss. He did do a hell of a job on the SKS, but still…

    Then the little fucker made me drive him to the hospital after he gashed his leg open driving a late 80’s Honda 200S three-wheeler. “Oh look at me, I need 10 stiches”. What a joke.

    I practically leave my dope laying out in the open. Do you think the rotten bastard pinches it? Fuck no, he’s too busy tending to his Myspace page. I’m beside myself.

    I’m thinkin of forming FAD: Fathers Against Dorks.

    Fuck it all, I’m having another beer.

  165. But the formulation about the water needed for your survival still leaves debatable your right to property in anything beyond what you need for your survival — which is practically all property.

  166. This is why I believe prosecutors should be appointed not elected. It won’t completely solve the problem but it will help. I remind folks it was as a rabid prosecutor that Rudy Guilinazi earned his political strips.

    Rudy was an appointed prosecutor; didn’t stop him from being a demogogue douchebag.

  167. “I feel for these parents. I can’t get my 15 yr old son to loosen up. Just this weekend I had a six of Mickey’s Big Mouths available and a four pack of Mike’s Hard Lime. I thought he was doing pretty well, but then I noticed he only had two limes. And one was only half drank. Granted, it was drank at 9 in the morning. But only half? What the fuck, At his age I would have polished it off and asked for more.”

    Mike’s Hard Lime? You said 15 yo son, right? Do you also make him dress up in a tutu?

  168. It would be interesting to see how much quantifiable damage MADD and the other neoprohibitionists have done. You could count lives lost, productive hours spent behind bars, and crime caused by driving kids away from adult supervision to drink.

    Then, in a better world, MADD and their ilk could be tried and convicted for murder, larceny, and maybe even treason. Certainly, in both name and spirit they are homegrown terrorists.

  169. Unless you consumed absolutely no alcohol before your 21st birthday, your comments are worthless.

    Geez, ad hominem much? Does that mean that if you’ve ever blown a stop sign you must condemn a police officer who tickets another driver for doing so?

  170. Here is an example. My daughter has friends who are Adventists. They don’t eat meat. I would never feed their kids a hamburger without asking. And meat isn’t even ILLEGAL for kids to eat.

    But this woman did not “feed their kids” anything, as far as I can tell. She made the alcohol available. If your daughter had a party at your house, would you hide all the cold cuts just to make sure that her Adventist friends didn’t choose to indulge?

    These are not six year olds, and the woman did not force the kids to drink. She didn’t spike their punch without their knowledge, AFAIK.

  171. Oh, and as my late friend F.T.Grampp said of MADD, “If it weren’t for the drunks, a lot of them wouldn’t be mothers.”

    Cute. But then, a lot of them aren’t mothers, or even women; the name is just for propaganda purposes, on the theory that it’s harder for politicians to ignore “mothers” than “random busybodies who need to get a life.”

  172. “As much as this pains me to suggest, I think having every American serve mandatory jail time — a weekend, a week, what have you — might cause people to think more sanely about how much time they’re sentencing a person to.”

    A far less draconian approach would be to lock up all elected officials after each election, and not release them until they signed a pledge to not pass laws penalizing people for other people’s behavior, or punishing them for harming themselves but not others — and repeal such laws currently on the books.

    Seriously, this law just screams for jury nullification — nobody held down the kids and forced drinks down their gullets. If the other parents are upset (rather than saying things so they don’t get charged too), they can give their kids the appropriate consequences, and forbid them to ever go to the offending parents’ house again. No need for government to get involved here at all.

  173. Just about every person who made a comment has the mentality of a 16 year old or has shit for brains. Damn right she should serve hard time, maybe the rest of you free thinkers will think twice about doing the same dumb and illegial thing she did. By the way, what if she had supplied them with a couple bags of grass to smoke? I guess that would have been ok too as long as they weren’t going to drive home.
    I don’t know how I got on this idiot site but I’ll try my best to find one a bit more sane.

    I see Juanita’s brother found the site.

  174. I remember UVA used to win the Playboy party school of the year poll so often that one year playboy declared them ineligible because they lost their amateur status. That was the year a bunch of students had a kegger in the back of a rented moving van. The drunks rocked the van and tipped it over while traveling to a game. Lot of folks were seriously injured and some died.

    That story about UVA and Playboy is an urban legend that Playboy has been denying for, oh, at least 30 years (which is about 10 years before the all-too-real incident about the crash involving frat boys in the back of a rental truck). The rental truck incident led to big lawsuits against everybody involved, including the University, the truck rental company, the fraternity, and the survivors of the crash. The lawsuits led the University to revise its entire relationship with student organizations, which thereafter either had to submit to control and direction by the University, or else sign agreements as “independent contracting organizations,” limiting the University’s connection to the organizations (and hence, it was hoped, liability for the organizations’ torts).

  175. What is wrong with parents today that they haven’t taught their kids when to lie?

    This wasn’t uncommon 45 years ago when I was a teen, but our parents had taught us when honesty wasn’t the best policy. We told our friends, and later the police if necessary that we got a wino to buy it for us. We would never have narked out our parents.

  176. OK, so I can assume nobody has a response to why the Virginia parent gets 35 times more punishment than Paris Hilton, who actually drove drunk.

  177. There shouldn’t be ANY legal charges here, as NO ONE WAS INJURED!! It’s perfectly legitimate for the other parents to prohibit this woman from ever supervising their children in any way again, or to prevent their children from interacting with the son.

    These parents have now taught their children that if someone does something they disagree with, the first response should be to invoke the courts. Would it have been SO difficult for the community to register its displeasure without resorting to a ridiculous sentence?

  178. My response is for MADD members wanting to raise the drinking age to 25 My 70 year old motherly thoughts about things are: if a person is old enough to pick up a gun, and go fight in a war started by his government he should be allowed all the rights and privileges of any other adult. Drinking, marriage, driving, voting, ..everything.
    A mother should know better than to involve her thoughts about the way a child is reared, concerning laws, with other children who are not hers. Obviously in France, Italy and Spain,(etc.) children are allowed to drink but not in America. Taking a mother away from a teen aged boy for two years is asking for trouble for the teen. Community service in a half way house where she could see the resuts of people who were addicted to drugs and alcohol might have been a better sentence. She might feel her kid couldn’t become an addict, but she didn’t know about the other children there. It was the lying, also that got her.
    Thank you

  179. Maybe we should all look at the current research on the effects drug/alcohl use has on the brains and brain development of teens and future drug/alcohol use/abuse. This stuff is not BS. Any parent who thinks they are doing kids a favor by letting them drink at home under their supervision and that no harm may befall them is very much mistaken. Pricilla McDonald is correct when suggests a better sentence would be for those parents to see the results of adolescents already addicted or who abuse drugs and alcohol.

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