As long as women across South Dakota are fighting Rep. Jon Hansen's mean-spirited misogynist patriarchy, I hesitate to suggest that I agree with that misguided Republican on anything.
But agree I do with Rep. Hansen on his decision to vote to kill Senate Bill 132 today in House Judiciary. Called a "Good Samaritan" bill, SB 132 sought to excuse minors from misdemeanor punishment for underage purchase, possession, or consumption of alcohol if they call the cops or EMTs to get medical help for themselves or other minors who've drunk too much. SB 132 cruised through the Senate but went down on a close 7–6 vote today.
University students from USD and SDSU lined up in favor of SB 132; law enforcement testified against. Rep. Hansen lined up with law enforcement and with me, albeit ineloquently:
If they go out and they get so drunk that they are lying on the floor and convulsing and choking on their own vomit that they'll be able to have their friend call the cops. I don't want to support that kind of behavior [Rep. Jon Hansen, quoted by Ben Dunsmoor, "Good Samaritan Bill Killed in Committee," KELOLand.com, 2013.02.27].
Perhaps the ineloquence is simply Dunsmoor's punctuation. But Hansen's principle stands, and I stand with it.
Let's put this "Good Samaritan" bill in the context of other lawbreaking. Suppose you decide to burn down your neighbors' house. You watch the neighbors' car pull out of the driveway. You sneak over with your gas can, light the place up, dance a brief pyromaniac jig of joy... but then notice through a window that the babysitter is there with the neighbors' kids. They've passed out from the smoke. You call 911, break down the door, haul the kids out. EMTs, firefighters, and cops come. They revive the kids, smell the gas on your hands, put two and two together, and...
...What? Give you a medal? No. You broke the law. You did damage. You created the situation that those kids needed saving from in the first place.
The situation with binge drinking parties is pretty similar. Teenagers and young adults choose to engage in activity that they know is illegal and dangerous. When the very predictable risk of that behavior manifests itself as physical harm, the supporters of SB 132 want us to excuse those kids from the legal consequences of their choices.
I can't go there. I want the law to tell young people what I plan to tell my daughter in my best Joe Flaherty voice: Drinking under age 21 is illegal. Binge drinking is dangerous. Don't even get into a situation where you may have to go to jail to save a friend's life or your own life.