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Alcohol is the new crack!
January 2, 2005 7:36 PM   Subscribe

“Not only is it illegal, but it's becoming increasingly dangerous,” Leggio said of underage drinking. How dangerous? Well apparently dangerous enough that one affluent Kansas City community has decided that it is best to have police spy on teens during high school basketball games. Oh it gets better, apparently a carload of teens is enough for a Lenexa cop to follow you! So the parents should be up in arms right? Nope, they encourage the police, even calling them ("she told dispatchers that when she called home to check on her son, it sounded like a party was going on"). Yet surprisingly, despite this almost police-state like mentality against drinking, attitudes are slow to change.
posted by geoff. (35 comments total)

 
Boy, if these kids figure out how to make their own booze.....

Hints:

Water, Sugar, yeast. Mix. Then distill. (why distill? If you are gonna break the law, break it!)
posted by rough ashlar at 7:43 PM on January 2, 2005


Did you write this for your school's newspaper?
posted by greasy_skillet at 7:45 PM on January 2, 2005


I'll give some background. Lenexa, KS is a very middle-class area. It's close to Kansas City (both KS and MO) where alcohol is given second seat to real crimes. To the south is Overland Park and Leawood which is more upper-class and drinking is given much more of a wink and nod as long as you aren't being an asshole.

This was on the front page of the Kansas City Star, and this police department has been really trying for press lately -- with the community giving it to them. This wonderful TV clip from KCTV5 features investigative reporting and the long-arm of the law at its worst. Watch as they let the drunk driver go for information on where the cool party is.

So, I'm really outraged. It's one thing if kids are drinking in a park. or driving drunk -- its another to spy on them and use every tool possible to catch them. Is the goal to make headlines are stop deaths?

Auxilliary: I've never been uh, so motivated to write a paper before. What would be the best way to say, "Can't you realize the law is going too far?" I'd hate to come off as raving mad, or have the paper print a "my son died in a drunk driving accident" right underneath it.
posted by geoff. at 7:45 PM on January 2, 2005


Apparently, most of us on this site are very lucky to have made it out of childhood what with all the dangers we narrowly avoided on our own. Not so for the kids of today. Their parents love them so much, they are willing to distrust them in any way to protect them.

SNIFF. Lucky kids.
posted by UseyurBrain at 7:48 PM on January 2, 2005


Well I'm not a resident of Lenexa (Kansas City, for those interested) nor am I underage -- so I can't really fight it from the student uprising angle.

I do have a memorable story of one of these Lenexa cops coming down on a party I was at in my high school days. We were at a small party (and all of us had designated drivers, most kids, like most adults, are responsible) and the cop thought he'd be cute and open up a window to get in. Uh, hello, constitutional rights. And let me tell you the mom that was there let them know they had violated their rights. They left, but they had two cars stay outside for 2 hours waiting for 15 high school seniors to leave. It was a little anticlamatic, as we were just playing video games! Why did they come you ask? One of the neighbors spotted some kids bringing beer into the party.
posted by geoff. at 7:49 PM on January 2, 2005


Go to www.bugmenot.com for login/pass. grr, geoff.

I just throw up my hands at this. "A mother who is out of town calls police and asks them to check on her house. She told dispatchers that when she called home to check on her son, it sounded like a party was going on." Says it all. Parents don't care, let the cops do it all for them.
posted by Arch Stanton at 7:50 PM on January 2, 2005


MADD must be salivating.
posted by FormlessOne at 7:51 PM on January 2, 2005


Teens getting drunk and dying in traffic accidents is much less of a problem in Europe, where the age at which you can get a driver's license is significantly higher (ca. 18 in most countries) than the age at which you can legally get drunk (ca. 16, but then again, nobody really cares and usually it's sufficient if you pretend to be 16). Thus, by the time you get your driver's license you pretty much know how to handle alcohol and the novelty effect has worn off.
Sure, there's still some recklessness and juvenile exuberance going on in Europe as well, but it is apparently not as problematic as in the U.S., where you get to drive first and drink second.
posted by sour cream at 7:53 PM on January 2, 2005


No, Arch Stanton, I think it shows that the mother has her priorities in the right place. I am so sick of hearing on the news about huge drunken orgy parties filled with 15 years being broken up by the cops, and then the parents defending their kids. Yea, it's lame that "underage drinking" is a crime, but it is a crime, and if minors want to drink, then they should face the consequences- that's life. Sounds like that Mom is willing to let her child face them, which I think deserves a hip, hip, hurray!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:55 PM on January 2, 2005 [1 favorite]


One solution would be to lower the drinking age and raise the driving age, and have a working, inexpensive mass transit system.

But this policy and mindset adjustment would have an adverse effect on the minimum wage service industries (fast food, in particular) that are reliant on teenagers able to drive themselves to work.

Everytime I hear someone from MADD harp about drinking, I remind myself about how smart people are in Europe about handling alcohol in its culture.
posted by AlexReynolds at 7:56 PM on January 2, 2005


With all the other outrages going on with the government in this country, it's refreshing to see people up in arms over some good old fashioned civil liberties violations.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:56 PM on January 2, 2005


The audio from the first TV segment:

Homeowner: "What can I do for you"
*Cop walks into house*
Cop: "Hi"
H: "You wanna step outside?"
C: "I'll stay right here for for right now"
H: "No, you ought to step outside."
C: "I'll stay right here"
H: "I didn't invite you in"
C: "No. I was invited in."
posted by trharlan at 8:43 PM on January 2, 2005


^^^^There's a cop that deserves a hollowpoint slug in the face.
posted by keswick at 8:53 PM on January 2, 2005


This raises an interesting question: when the cops are breaking into your house -- who the hell do you call?
posted by webmutant at 9:05 PM on January 2, 2005


There have been a couple of stupid and unlucky teenagers here in Denver that have killed themselves by driving like idiots, and another couple of stupid college kids that have managed to drink themselves to death. Not to say they deserved it, all teenagers do really stupid stuff, and most of 'em get away with it, so it is sad when somebody gets killed, and it's to bad these kids had to die so young.

But it really annoys me how local media and activist parents try and turn a run-of-the-mill, gonna-happen-again tragedy into a world-ending trend of death and destruction. It is always accompanied by ernest talk about what laws can be passed to protect kids from themselves, and what can be done to turn the tide of rampaging teenage death.

And then tomorrow life goes on. For every generation ever born, young people think they are immortal, and they do stupid things involving lots of risk. The particulars change, but that's it. People need to get some perspective. It is a tragedy when a beautiful 19 year old drinks herself to death at a Frat. party. But the end of the world it is not.

It certainly doesn't require new legislation.
posted by teece at 9:06 PM on January 2, 2005


Like a tsunami from James Dobson, the enormous rift between Middle America and reality seems to be enlarging exponentially.
posted by orange clock at 9:22 PM on January 2, 2005


I grew up in Johnson County, and I don't find any of this very surprising. The same rule applies as always: if you don't want the cops to come to the party, don't make it an open party. It's not an infallible rule, but it works the vast majority of the time.
posted by bingo at 9:57 PM on January 2, 2005


Oh it gets better, apparently a carload of teens is enough for a Lenexa cop to follow you!

I've been pulled over before when driving my parents car simply because I was--at the time--a teenager in a reasonably nice mid-level sedan. Once they followed me around for fifteen minutes, ran the plates, then pulled me over because "the car was from out of town" (about a one hour drive away). Then after I checked out they said they were just "doing their jobs", which, apparently, involves pulling over people in cars that haven't been reported stolen.

But I'm not a teenager anymore, so fuck those kids. Get off my lawn!
posted by The God Complex at 10:42 PM on January 2, 2005


Yes, it's always such a good, sound, Conservative idea to enforce the Nanny State wherever possible.... [/sarcasm]

trharlan, be careful -- your [civil-]libertarian side is showing ;-).
posted by lodurr at 11:24 PM on January 2, 2005


This raises an interesting question: when the cops are breaking into your house -- who the hell do you call?

The ACLU, the NRA-ILA, and your very, very expensive lawyer.
posted by stet at 12:36 AM on January 3, 2005


Steady AlexReynolds. The UK is part of Europe and drunk kids turn it into Fallujah every night. You are absolutely right about mainland Europe though - I have never seen problems because the kids grow up with alcohol and don't think it is anything special.

You driving age suggestion would also have an effect. 18 should be the minimum for piloting potentially lethal lumps of metal. How I survived between 17 and 25 I will never know.
posted by Cancergiggles at 2:37 AM on January 3, 2005


The neatest part about alcohol prohibition in youth is how much it trains a society to expect arbitrary police interference in its life. Kids grow up, you know.
posted by effugas at 2:39 AM on January 3, 2005


Belgium is also part of Europe and drinking under influence remains a problem. We even have a term for it. "Weekend accidents": Accidents involving young drivers, usually male, and almost always under influence. Every weekend, youngsters are killed on our roads.

I don't think we have a law that states the legal drinking age and if there is one, it's not enforced. A twelve year old can walk into a bar and order a beer without problem. The police won't touch you unless you're disturbing the peace or engaging in reckless behavior. They can stop you the moment that you have shown the intention to operate a vehicle.

The situation has gotten better the past few years through alcohol test by the police along busy roads and a preventive campaign that states that it is okay to party and drink as long as "Bob" is also present to drive you home afterwards. "Bob" can be anybody within your group that is willing to be the designated driver. It's been running for several years and has proven successful. When I get together with my friends, the first thing that is determined is who the "Bobs" are before the first round is ordered. Everybody is encouraged to be responsible for their peers.
If I had a few, its doubtful my friends would let me drive and if nobody wants to be Bob, sleeping arrangements are made before the party starts.
posted by Timeless at 6:07 AM on January 3, 2005


But it really annoys me how local media and activist parents try and turn a run-of-the-mill, gonna-happen-again tragedy into a world-ending trend of death and destruction.

That happened last spring here in Kansas City. Two kids were killed when they crashed into a narrow bridge (one of those small bridges that goes over a creek). The kids were speeding big time, and the driver may have been drunk. So everybody gets up in arms about how the road should be widened, and not how the kids shouldn't have been drinking or speeding. It wasn't the bridge's fault.
posted by Agrippina at 7:12 AM on January 3, 2005


ThePinkSuperhero - No, Arch Stanton, I think it shows that the mother has her priorities in the right place.

Really? She went out of town and left her teenage kid home alone with no backup plan other than to call the cops on her own kid. Why didn't she get a neighbor to agree to come over and check on the kid? Or a relative?

Her priorities are totally screwed up because she passed on her obligation to care for her children to the police instead of doing it herself.

The police are not babysitters, and should not be used as a free service to protect your kids from your own stupidity.
posted by nathanrudy at 7:46 AM on January 3, 2005


That's rather harsh - the mother might not have had anyone to check on the kids - and something about her phone call obviously worried her - I wouldn't be so quick to blame her - at least she's trying to pay attention.
posted by agregoli at 7:52 AM on January 3, 2005


the mother should be embarrassed. if she can't trust her children alone, she shouldn't leave them alone.

the cops are not your babysitters. stop wasting the taxpayers' hard-earned money so you can go party. bitch.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:08 AM on January 3, 2005


Interesting that the main rationale for such heavy-handed police action is to prevent teen deaths from drunk driving - and yet in the article, every time they try to bust a party, it describes lots of teens frantically speeding away in cars. Sounds sort of like they're making the situation far more dangerous just so they can pursue a highly visible, easily accomplished tough-ass moralistic stance. Is there a local sheriff up for re-election, or something?

The UK is part of Europe and drunk kids turn it into Fallujah every night.

Oh, please, dude, don't spread that nonsense any more. What problem there is with alcohol-related violence (which is currently being massively overstated by the more Daily Mail-ish segments of the media anyway) isn't some nightly ritual, it's a weekend-only thing, it only happens in certain places, and it's not kids that are the problem - it's adults in their twenties and thirties, drinking legally, and the problem is that they're all being kicked out of the pubs and clubs at the same time.
posted by flashboy at 8:12 AM on January 3, 2005


Two kids were killed when they crashed into a narrow bridge (one of those small bridges that goes over a creek). The kids were speeding big time, and the driver may have been drunk.

They should have just banned dancing.
posted by keswick at 8:45 AM on January 3, 2005


the cops are not your babysitters. stop wasting the taxpayers' hard-earned money so you can go party. bitch.
posted by mrgrimm


Geezus.

We don't know the situation. I fail to see why the mother was "partying." She WAS checking on her children, and was concerned. Maybe not the best situation, but I don't see why you're so angry at her, when you don't know the specifics.
posted by agregoli at 10:31 AM on January 3, 2005


I liked it when the local cops would bust kids for possession by consumption. That seemed totally ridiculous to me.

I'm all for abolishing the drinking age, raising the driving age and making DUI punishment alot more deterring.
posted by fenriq at 11:38 AM on January 3, 2005


agregoli: "Maybe not the best situation, but I don't see why you're so angry at her, when you don't know the specifics."

There's some merit in your take on the situation, ag, except if you don't see what's wrong with leaving your kid at home unsupervised for a weekend and then calling the police on them when you suspect a possible party at your house, you may want to back away from this discussion.

mrgrimm is correct in opinion, if perhaps overzealous in emotion. The cops are NOT babysitters, and the parent should have made other, more sensible arrangements (like friends or neighbors) to check up on the kid. If those measures are not available, then don't. leave. the. kid. alone.

Kind of a no-brainer, to me. I don't even have kids - but I do have much younger half-siblings to whom this once applied, and in fact their parents (our mutual parent and my step) did make such arrangements - where I, as adult older sibling who lived nearby and had a vehicle, served as the first line of defense/inquiry.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:56 PM on January 3, 2005


The best part of calling the police to your own house because you think your kid is having a party is that you're responsible!

If the police were to go to your home and find your kid there hosting a party with drinking, you'd probably be found legally responsible if your kid is under 18. In that case, calling the police definitely would take some responsibility, since you're admitting that you may be legally responsible for underage drinking.
posted by mikeh at 2:38 PM on January 3, 2005


agregoli, I think the points mrgrimm and nathanrudy are trying to make are that the mother could have called a neighbor or family friend to check on the kids rather than the police, not that she wasn't doing the right thing in spirit by having someone check on them (after she left home without preparing for what might happen while she was gone).
posted by ElfWord at 2:42 PM on January 3, 2005


Trharlan, that exchange bothered me as well.
posted by Tenuki at 2:47 PM on January 3, 2005


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