June 14, 2007

News > Parents Get 27 Months for Giving Minors Alcohol

You've probably heard about the Virginia couple who are going to jail for serving alcohol at their son's 16th birthday party. The prosecutor recommended a 90 day sentence, which would have been appropriate. The judge instead sentenced the couple to eight years, which was reduced to 27 months on appeal.

I think you can argue that 27 months may be a bit much. The parents took everyone's keys and none of the children were legally intoxicated. The parents weren't completely irresponsible.

At the same time, I can't understand the sort of wholesale defense of what the parents did that you see, for instance, from many of the commenters at Metafilter.

I don't think I ever went to party where there wasn't alcohol when I was sixteen. That mother should be commended for doing the responsible thing.

No, the punishment did not fit the crime.
Yes, I've been to a party where alcohol was served when I was underage.
Yes, I would buy my kids alcohol.
Settled? Good. We can close this now.

Speaking as a European, articles like this worry me just as much as those about water board torture or extraordinary rendition. It indicates a sickness within American society.

Punishment does not fit the crime. But I suppose it is reflective of the glorious Family Values, and will certainly do much to teach that family proper respect for the law.

Look, the parents weren't just turning a blind eye to alcohol. They actively purchased the alcohol for the kids and served it to them. And it wasn't just their own children. They were giving alcohol to other people's minor children, some as young as 15, without the other parents' permission.

It gets worse. Some of the other parents specifically asked ahead of time if alcohol would be available. The now-convicted parents lied and told them there would not be any alcohol. If someone asks if alcohol will be available at a party their children are attending, that's tantamount to saying "I don't want my kid around underage drinking, much less drinking themselves." The convicted parents were clearly going against the wishes of the other children's parents. If you have to lie about what you're doing, that shows you know it's wrong.

This isn't a knotty ethical question. If you're a friend of mine, I promise not to secretly give your minor children alcohol, and I expect the same consideration from you.

Posted by lesjones | TrackBack

Les Jones linked with Bush Was Wrong to Commute Libby's Sentence


I like your observation, "this isn't a knotty ethical question," in regard to this whole issue. So true, and I think that a big, big reason for our (humankind's) collective confusion over many moral issues is self-imposed, and a result of unnecessarily clouding up what are basically simple conflicts. Must be too many lawyers. Of which I am one.

Posted by: Tom at June 14, 2007

To me, their lying to the other parents is the big problem I have with these people. If they hadn't done that, I would have agreed that a fine and some community service would have been an appropriate sentence.

I think, given that they lied, some jail time would be appropriate, but I still think, as a society, we get way too worked up over this. In other countries this wouldn't even be illegal, let alone be news, and many of those countries are hardly falling apart.

Posted by: Sebastian at June 14, 2007

THANK YOU!!! This was my point at NiT, too. The fact that they a) served it to other people's underage children and b) lied about it to the parents is the what is really wrong in this situation. Had it been a family party with just their children being served alcohol, I say fine, it's your kids, your decision, no one should interfere.

I do think it was a bit much to sentence the parents to 8 years (then reduce to 27 mos). I think the recommended 90 day sentence (assuming it didn't get reduced, commuted or otherwise not served) would have been enough to make the point that what they did was wrong.

Oh...there's so much more I could say, but I just won't.

Posted by: malia at June 14, 2007

I'm with you on this. I have no problem with "underage" teens being allowed to drink by their parents. That's a moral decision and none of the .gov's business. Had the hosts of the party been up front about their plans and the parents of the teens been able to make an informed decision about whether their children should attend or not, I'd be out for the judge's head.

In light of the duplicity displayed,however, the hosts of this party usurped the parental authority of the other children's parents and made a moral decision that was not theirs to make. They should face the consequences of that...I think a more appropriate penalty would be a healthy arse kicking by the aggrieved parents but that's neither her nor there...

I have to wonder what exactly the defendants did to piss off the judge enough to get an 8 year sentence. I would have to say that if they displayed a complete lack of remorse for their actions and/or arrogantly insisted that they did no wrong...I'd be tempted to throw the book at them too. If they are not honorable or ethical enough to honor the wishes of the parents of underage guests in their home, perhaps severe punishment for their misdeeds is necessary. They may never actually "see the error of their ways" but perhaps the painful reminder of the costs of such action will make them think twice about such irresponsibility in the future.

Posted by: Sailorcurt at June 15, 2007

Good for the courts!

Enjoy your 3 hots and a cot. Perhaps they won't try to be the "cool" parents after they have 27 months to think about it. There is too much of this nonsense these days, and it only seems to bother anyone when someone ends up dead.

Posted by: Diego at June 15, 2007
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