Friday, February 15, 2008

Hey kids, let's drink to the liquor laws

Last night, Scottsdale, Arizona, police were hard at work, battling the threat to peace and decency posed by ... underage drinkers.

Twenty-four underage drinkers were arrested at one of Scottsdale's hottest nightclubs, Scottsdale police said Friday.

The 24 people - ranging in age from 17 to 20 - were arrested about 10:30 p.m. Thursday in the Mondrian Hotel's Skybar, 7353 E. Indian School Road, police said.

Only one of the 24 arrested, the 17-year-old, was a minor, police said. Arizona's legal drinking age is 21.

Three bar employees also were arrested, police said: two for failure to use identification logs and one for allowing a minor into the bar without a parent.

Scottsdale apparently has enough police manpower that it can spare a fair-sized force to raid a bar and bust two-dozen people (plus the folks that served them) because they elected to sip a beer without waiting for that magic age which politicians have decreed turns a crime into an acceptable way to pass the time. Which is to say, the city clearly has too many cops.

Worse, the police raided the club because some "anonymous citizen" ratted the place out for serving customers who hadn't yet seen their 21st birthdays. There's nothing quite as low as a willing collaborator with the state.

Government-mandated drinking ages have always offended me as a state intervention into what is legitimately private decision-making. Parents should decide when their minor children will be permitted to drink -- not politicians. And adults, who can marry, sign contracts and are legally required to register for the draft, have the right to purchase alcoholic beverages from those willing to sell to them, whether or not legislators like that idea. That some government officials think they have the legitimate right to reach even into the home to determine who can and can't drink is truly appalling.

I'm far past the point of being personally affected by silly legislation like drinking ages, but I remember being annoyed by them once upon a time. I also remember evading them quite efficiently. I don't know what the law was then, though I doubt it was nearly as draconian as current statutes, but I was served small quantities of diluted alcohol at home from a young age -- seven or so. I was permitted to moderately raid my folks' beer and wine stash from relatively early in my teenage years.

When my friends and I decided we wanted to buy beer to drink on our own time, we went searching for fake ID that would get us past bar bouncers and liquor-store clerks -- a job now rendered much easier in the Internet age. My first fake ID was a bogus-looking Times Square special, but it worked well enough in an era before drinking ages were taken so seriously.

Later, I became adept at altering driver's licenses and even made money informally aging classmates at college. I was put out of business by a competitor who showed up with what looked like his own Department of Motor Vehicles set-up, offering authentic-looking driver's licenses from a selection of states. Finally, I altered my birth certificate and got myself a state-issued ID that said I was three years older than I was. I was actually slugging down beer in the campus pub after showing that ID while the pub manager boasted to me that nobody underage ever got served in his establishment.

I had some news for him, but I let him figure it out in his own time.

My son is years away from his first sip of wine, but he'll have it at home, under his parents' supervision, no matter what the law says.

And if, at 17 or 18, he gets busted by cops with too much time on their hands for knocking a drink or two down in a bar before the law says it's OK, he'll have my full support. I'll even give him a few pointers on craftsman-like forgery so he can stand aside and finish his drink while the police turn their attention to less fortunate bar-goers. Because there's just no obligation to obey a law that tries to substitute government judgment for your own as to when it's OK to have a drink.

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Anonymous Tim said...

Very well said Sir!

I read your articles with interest and appreciation every day and often point others to them. So even if i rarely comment, know your writings are very much appreciated. :)


February 15, 2008 12:55 PM  
Blogger OReally said...

Agree 100%. I am glad that I live in a country where the drinking age is 18 and the laws, for the most part, are not taken very seriously. My <18 yr old daughter has a fairly convincing ID stating she is 19. Her mother and I are all for it.

February 15, 2008 2:27 PM  
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^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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March 18, 2009 11:56 PM  

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