About a decade ago, the high-school aged children of a friend of mine had a party at which they and their friends had some alcoholic drinks. My friend knew all about what her kids were up to. In fact, she hosted the party and served the alcohol herself.
It seemed like a good idea. Kids that age can always get booze when they want to, but at least this way a responsible adult would be there to make sure they didn’t drink too much or drive away drunk.
It must have seemed like a good idea to a lot of people, because she got signed permission slips from the parents of every kid who attended. The only exception was the son of the Chief of Police in her town. He called her to say he couldn’t sign the note because she was technically breaking the law, but he assured her he approved of his son attending.
That was then, this is now:
That’s exactly what a Rhode Island couple did in 2004. When they learned that their son planned to celebrate the prom with a booze bash at a beach 40 miles away, William and Patricia Anderson instead threw a supervised party for him and his friends at their home. They served alcohol, but William Anderson stationed himself at the party’s entrance and collected keys from every teen who showed. No one who came to the party could leave until the next morning.
For this the Andersons found themselves arrested and charged with supplying alcohol to minors. The case ignited a fiery debate that eventually spilled onto the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
That’s from Radley Balko in the Washington Post. He goes on:
The local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving oddly decided to make an example of William Anderson, a man who probably did more to keep drunk teens off the road that night than most Providence-area parents.
I’m shocked! Why would a driving safety group like MADD be acting like a bunch of old-time prohibitionists? I don’t know, but as I mentioned before, MADD has drifted far from their original goals.
In fact, the Andersons were lucky. A couple in Virginia was recently sentenced to 27 months in jail for throwing a supervised party for their son’s 16th birthday, at which beer was made available. That was reduced on appeal from the eight-year sentenced imposed by the trial judge. The local MADD president said she was “pleasantly surprised” at the original eight-year verdict, and “applauded” the judge’s efforts.
Eight years. That’s an awfully long sentence for serving alcohol to minors. Bank robbers and rapists would serve less time (for a single first offense). That a MADD officer would support such a sentence makes me wonder if MADD is becoming some sort of hate group, kind of like the KKK except instead of hating another race, they hate drinkers.
Update: Okay, I got angry and went overboard there. My apologies to MADD for the unqualified comparison to the KKK. Unlike the KKK, MADD acts within the law, not against it, and they don’t do lynchings. However, I still say the MADD president’s comment suggests that MADD is more motivated by hatred of drinkers than by improving traffic safety.