My home state of Tennessee has gone crazy. They’re about to pass a new alcohol carding bill that is going to inconvenience 90% of their voting population. The basics:
[U]nder a bill that unanimously passed the Tennessee Senate on Thursday, Thorpe and other convenience store workers would have to ask for identification from everyone, no matter how old they appear.
If approved, the bill would make Tennessee the first state to make universal carding mandatory at convenience stores, according to the national advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
A House committee will consider the bill next week.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Joe Haynes, said he wants to prevent store clerks from selling beer to anyone underage. The legislation does not apply to hard liquor or to the sale of alcohol in restaurants.
So let me get this straight: by forcing grocery and convenience stores to card every person within state borders — be they grandmother, senator, or tourist — who attempts to buy beer, we are asserting that the benefits of potentially stopping a person from buying beer who (a) is under 21, (b) looks over 21, (c) wouldn’t have already been carded by the store owner under pressure from existing laws, and (d) doesn’t already have a fake ID outweights the cost of inconveniencing every Tennessee resident or visitor between the ages of 21 and death.
The bill passed the senate 30-0. 30-0! Apparently it has the support of the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association, presumably on the grounds that they’re sick of having to fight with the 30-year olds they already choose to card in order to avoid getting busted by undercover cops under the current system.
Note the disparate logic here as well. In Tennessee beer may be sold at grocery and convenience stores but hard liquor may only be sold in liquor stores. I believe the logical progression here is: the more potent the substance, the easier it is to buy underage? And as for restaurants, I’ve always thought that was the easiest place to get away with underage drinking because the waiter is under pressure to not card if three customers who are clearly over 21 and one who looks questionable all order a round of beers.
In other words — sensibility of existing laws aside for a moment — this bill is not only an absurd inconvenience of… wait for it… pretty much EVERYONE, but it also singles out certain groups punitively while exempting others for which the logical argument is stronger.
As usual, the Tennessee legislature leaves me in disbelief.