By Scott Tibbs, April 25, 2008
Kilroy's on Kirkwood was closed last night, will be closed again tomorrow night, and has been forbidden from serving alcohol both days. Why? Because Indiana excise police caught underage people in the bar.
On one level, the punishment doesn't seem fair. Kilroy's works to keep underage people out, but with advances in technology, determination, and the distraction of a large crowd it isn't always possible to keep everyone out. Should Kilroy's be punished for the illegal behavior of customers? On another level, any business has an obligation to obey the law and any bar owner knows he is obligated by law to bar entry to underage people. Kilroy's, like any other bar, knows the responsibilities that come with a license to serve alcohol.
Whether we agree with it or not, we are obligated to obey the law. This is especially true for Christians, who are expected by God to submit to the authority He has placed over us unless that earthly authority commands us to sin. (See 1 Peter 2:13-17, Romans 13:1-7 and Titus 3:1.) As Americans, however, we have the Constitutional right to lobby for good laws and convince our legislators to change bad laws. (See previous articles from November 20th, 2003, March 24, 2006 and April 20, 2007.) That's exactly what I did below:
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Underage drinking and Indiana law
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2008 18:53:03 -0400
From: Scott Tibbs <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: H60@IN.gov, S40@IN.gov
Senator Simpson and Representative Pierce,
You are probably aware of the severe punishment handed down to Kilroy's on Kirkwood for underage drinking violations. Everyone involved knows what the law is, and what their responsibilities under the law are, so I do not have a problem with the punishment. As citizens of the state of Indiana, we are all obligated to obey the law.
A more basic problem is that both Kilroy's and excise police are working to enforce a law that everyone instinctively knows is nonsensical. This has been said thousands of times to the point that it has become a cliché, but it makes no sense that someone can fight, kill and die in a war but cannot legally drink a beer in the privacy of his own living room. 18-21 year olds are legal adults with all of the rights and responsibilities of adults, with a single exception: they cannot drink alcohol. When a law makes no sense, it invites disobedience of the law and disrespect for the rule of law. This is especially the case in a college town like Bloomington.
Indiana should change the law and allow legal adults who are not yet 21 years of age to drink alcohol. There are certainly problems with doing this, especially considering that many high school seniors are 18 years old. Giving high school students the right to purchase alcohol will cause teenage drinking to increase. I propose that the "basic" legal drinking age be lowered to 19, while 18 year olds will only be allowed to drink if they have a high school diploma or a GED. This would reduce the burden on police who are trying to prevent legal adults from consuming a legal product because they are not "of age" and will be a step in the right direction to address our schizophrenic attitude toward alcohol.
There is an attitude in our country that drinking is in and of itself a vice, a holdover from Prohibition and a poor understanding by some Christians on what the Bible teaches about drinking alcohol. I believe that the "forbidden fruit" inhibition on drinking actually encourages destructive behavior such as binge drinking. Changing Indiana's law to be more progressive would be a small step in changing that, in addition to being good public policy. Unfortunately, Indiana has to deal with a federal government that has overstepped its bounds in order to do this, and we will have to take that up with our Congressional delegation first.