MADD (Wo)Men

Driven to distraction

By Robert A. George
|  Tuesday, Aug 4, 2009  |  Updated 4:30 PM PDT
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Harvard Professor Arrested; Officer Accused of Bias

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Vice President Joe Biden, Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates, Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley and President Barack Obama at the famous "beer summit" on race relations in the Rose Garden July 30, 2009. One affiliate of Mothers Against Drunk Driving wondered about the example it would set for young people. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Any interest group which receives either a license to operate or tax-exempt status with which to raise funds should have an expiration date on said documents.

Another way of saying that is that there should be a sunset clause in any statute that authorizes an organization's creation. Because  inevitably, any group that starts with all the best intentions, will eventually lose sight of what they were originally created for. They will nonetheless just continue raising money -- but veer off into causes of which they know nothing and pervert whatever good legacy they once had.  

Perfect example -- Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or at least its Delaware affiliate, found reason to question the White House's "beer summit" because it, well, featured beer:  

 "It’s a well known fact that young people tend to mimic the actions of the adults,” Nancy Raynor of MADD told WDEL-AM of Wilmington, Del., according to audio posted on the station's web site. The station summarized Raynor's comments as suggesting that convening the men over beer "could be a bad influence."

"Bad influence"?  In what way? If young people chose to mimic Henry Louis Gates, Jim Crowley, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, good for them!  Gates -- as this whole episode painfully reminded us -- has his own driver who takes him everywhere. Thus, there's no likelihood that he'll be drinking and driving.  Crowley's pretty much a stand-up cop, so there's little reason to think that he's going to do something like that.  Obama lives at the White House, so he's in what folks call "stumbling distance" to his own bed.  Biden, well, he either has someone drive him to the vice president's resident in north west Washington, DC -- or he gets on the AMTRAK to head home to Delaware. Besides, he drank a non-alcoholic beer at the pow-pow.

None of these men is in danger of DWI! 

But this is what happens to special interest groups.  MADD had a legitimate mission a quarter-century ago.  It became successful; it got all states -- wisely or not -- to agree to a uniform drinking age of 21. It got the "under the influence" limit brought first to .10 and then, in most states, .08. 

But, like most groups, once they are created, they have to continue until the reason for their existence is eradicated. But, because sin in some form will always be with us, there's no way to completely eliminate drunk driving -- any more than the NAACP will ever completely destroy racism. But, the groups continue, so they have to find other ways to fight the same battles over and over and over. Two years ago, the Atlanta affiliate of the NAACP had to weigh in on whether Michael Vick should be allowed to play pro football again after his dog-fighting conviction. That has to do with the mission of the NAACP, how, exactly?  

So, no surprise, you have an MADD affiliate talking about the "bad influence" of grown men discussing certain problems over a couple of cold ones. Time for MADD to pack it in and do something more productive than trying to become a latter-day temperance movement.

If there's one thing worse than warm beer, it's stale warmed-over ideology. 

New York writer Robert A. George blogs at Ragged Thots. Follow him on Twitter.  

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