This editorial appeared in the Macon Telegraph on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008.
Last weekend, Bibb County deputies, answering a complaint about loud music at a party at a private home, found some 30 high-school teenagers in the home's backyard where they were celebrating a sports victory. Some, deputies said, were drinking alcohol, mostly beer. The officers charged the adult homeowners with permitting underage persons to drink. The couple was taken into custody and released after posting bond. Deputies notified teenagers' parents to come and take their children home.
There are several things to consider, none of which negates that it is against the law for people under 21 in Georgia to drink alcohol (although it is a widespread practice). Some have suggested that mitigating circumstances should be considered, such as this was a party in which adults collected car keys and didn't allow anyone to leave, reducing the likelihood that party-goers would be injured, or injure others, in an automobile accident.
But let's be quite clear: The Editorial Board does not suggest it is acceptable to break the law, permitting underage persons to drink alcoholic beverages, particularly under circumstances the deputies encountered. (We can envision very limited family situations in the home, such as serving wine with a meal, or certain religious rituals involving alcoholic beverages, that correctly fall outside the purview of law enforcement.) While the adults accused of permitting teens to drink, and who officers suggest provided the beverages, may have intended to create a safe environment where high-schoolers could celebrate, they crossed the line. One may not agree with a particular law, but in a society governed by laws, citizens must accept the necessity of obeying those rules or suffer the consequences.
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