The Texas Legislature is in session, which means anything can happen, including a whole slew of unusual bills brought before the body. From what I heard on the Benjamin Dover show today, here are a couple of them (and in a rather Dave Barryesque moment, they all have to do with beer):
--House Bill 193 will require registration of all beer kegs purchased in the state. The purchaser will have to sign a sworn affidavit stating that, not only is he/she 21 years old, but that he/she will not serve any of the contents of that keg to underage guests.
--House Bill 36 (referred to as the "birthday binge drinking" bill) would prohibit the sale of alcohol to anyone on their 21st birthday between the hours of 12 midnight and 7 a.m., and House Bill 38 would limit the amount of alcohol contained in a single drink served by a retail establishment to no more than half an ounce.
(All three bills are sponsored by Rep. Rob Eissler, a Republican from The Woodlands. An overview of these issues can be found here.)
It's easy enough to understand the sentiment behind these bills, particularly HB 36, which was filed at the request of one of Eissler's constituents who lost her son to a night of binge-drinking on the night that he turned 21. But think about these bills a little more, and the potential problems start cropping up: Once you register the keg, the authorities have your address; what's to keep the police from showing up at your party? (Keep in mind that the "you" of which I speak is a general "you," as I haven't hosted a keg party since college and certainly have no plan to do so in the future.) The kegs will also be marked with an identification number at the point of purchase; such a number could be used to punish the buyer if the keg was confiscated at a party where minors were being served.
Sure, these bills mean well. But, like the proposal to legalize sobriety checkpoints, my concern is that they will put too much power in the hands of law enforcement and provided too great a temptation to abuse that power. Seeing as how cops already target young drivers (for the "violation" I refer to as DWT, or Driving While Teenaged), I could see things getting out of hand really quickly if they started staking out the residences of those who recently purchased a keg. Besides, there are already laws on the books which punish drunk drivers and those who serve alcohol to minors; do we really need any more such laws?
I have no doubt that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is behind a lot of this, and it's really hard in a way to bash on MADD; it's kind of like kicking a puppy. I too am against drunk drivers (to the point where I've wrestled keys away from people in the past), but it seems like MADD won't be satisfied until everyone stops drinking altogether. Am I wrong here? Isn't there a middle ground somewhere, or does the government have to get this involved to properly solve this problem? It just seems like the responsible people are being punished for the transgressions of a few...
Let freedom ring...everywhere I got to hear a bit of President Bush's inaugural speech on the radio today. One of the main themes was the importance of the spread of democracy and liberty throughout the world. It really reinforces the idea I pitched a while back that the United Nations should be replaced with a League of Democracies of sorts. Again, nobody would be forced to join, but if a nation wished to continue under totalitarian rule, they'd forfeit their place in the community of "civilized" people. Considering the oil-for-food scandal and all that, could such a league do any worse that the U.N. has done lately?
QUOTE OF THE DAY: An exchange during one of my jazz combos, where we have an awesome new vocalist (names omitted to protect the goofy)...
ALTO DUDE: You sound like someone, we're trying to figure out who.
TENOR DUDE: Yeah, you definitely sound familiar.
ALTO DUDE: I got it! Do you ever listen to Incubus?
(Say whaaaaaaat?? Incidentally, it turned out that her favorite singer is Astrud Gilberto, who is only slightly stylistically different from Incubus.)