Drunk & Disorderly…and Stupid

Some people grow out of stupidity. Those who do, with the help of maturity, generally climb the ladder of life, where hard work is rewarded and compassion valued. Those who don’t, are more likely than not, to create wreckage for others, from bow all the way to stern and back. Drive down any street, they will nearly run into you with their road rage and inconsiderate driving. Watch any cashier, waitress or customer service counter, the idiots are attracted like bees to a flower. The opportunities are endless for a customer to smart off, criticize or make personal remarks to employees just trying to do their jobs.

So, what does stupidity have to do with drunk and disorderly? If you are drunk and disorderly, at least there is a reason for boorish and crude behavior. Hopefully you sober up and resemble a responsible member of society. There is no guarantee that with age will come wisdom or responsible behavior. You might continue to drink excessively and bully people. As a crutch, alcohol is not funny for the incalculable lives destroyed.

I think back to my younger days, full of craziness and opportunities for learning. Live and learn I did. Mostly. Young and stupid. Not only do we only know a fraction of what we think we do, our judgement skills can be poorly calibrated.

Just for the record, being drunk in public is not a criminal offense in my state. “No county or city shall adopt any local law, ordinance, resolution or regulation having the force of law rendering public intoxication by alcohol in and of itself or being a common drunkard or being found in enumerated places in an intoxicated condition, an offense, a violation, or the subject of criminal penalties.”

Being disorderly is another matter. For many, alcohol is not involved in disorderly behavior. It is their normal to act as they do. With the internet, all the world is a stage. Disorderly conduct may not meet the definition of disturbing the peace, which is often an arrestable offense. Disorderly conduct may be the first step on the way to disturbing the peace, which could involve fighting, loud and/or unruly behavior, urinating in public or encounters with law enforcement. If you magnify disorderly behavior you’ll likely end up in handcuffs and being an unhappy passenger in a police vehicle.

While searching for definitions on disorderly behavior, I found this statement. “…This means that a prosecutor must only show that a reasonable person would have been alarmed by the conduct.” What is a reasonable person? In the year 2021, I have no idea what someone would be alarmed by or be shocked to witness. I used to have an idea, but clearly, the world has changed.

Is protest disorderly? All protest is not the same. Peaceful protests, following the law for assembly, regardless of the subject, is not disorderly. We may not like the message, but there is free speech. Are Nazis protected? How about calls for insurrection? Hanging public figures? How about bringing weapons and bulletproof armor to a protest?

Today, we accept all kinds of behavior, or tolerate what may have been offensive or shocking at the very least, unreasonable. To reach the level of unlawful is not a huge jump. It is not illegal to be stupid, immoral, mean, uncompassionate, closed-minded, narcissistic, a conspiracy theorist, arrogant, unprincipled, or generally just a dick. Being a “Karen” is not against the law, in fact, you can be elected to many public offices.

One might say, the descriptions above are judgement calls, classifying behavior as being unacceptable. That is true. Each of us are born with the basic equipment to filter good acts from those that are: illegal deemed by a governing body; unacceptable, but not illegal, as deemed by society or a greater group; unacceptable to our own standards; or things that make us uncomfortable, yet we do not render a judgement.

Filters are the hardware, morals are the software. Morals are downloaded from your family, environment and what your sensors absorb from contact with life.

My filters are different than yours and the next person. Many people do not use any filters, like the people who say anything that comes to mind, no matter if it is demeaning, hurtful or untrue. Are you trying to cancel free speech?

We do not even agree about things that are classified as illegal. People push or adjust the legal boundaries all of the time. They may not reject the law, just the definition or application of it. Laws are overturned, changed or interpreted frequently. That is why we have legislative bodies, courts and lots of lawyers. Take the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. Those involved either did not think they were breaking the law, did not care they were breaking the law, or felt their actions was acceptable and warranted.

We also have the court of public opinion, the largest and most dynamic court in the land. In this court, anyone can be heard. Truth is not an absolute. Rules are optional; free speech and opinion are valued more than anything else.

Many of us, in our younger years, straddled social norms as we tested our freedoms and rode life like an out-of-control, wild horse. Sometimes we were drunk and disorderly; harmless, except to ourselves. The demon rum is to blame.

Back in the day, we sobered up, matured and went about generally operating within the bounds of societal norms and our own belief systems. Norms are broader than laws, they encompass customs, beliefs, traditions and accepted social behavior. I say “generally” because we each have our own collection of norms and idea of the limits of acceptable behavior.

If you were drunk and disorderly, you were probably at least a bit embarrassed by it. You certainly paid for it the next day. Other people either thought you were ridiculous or disgusting, maybe even pitied.

The point I am trying to make is hopefully obvious. We are not born smart; we are taught and nurtured. We make mistakes and hopefully learn from them. We can learn good things and we can learn bad things. We can learn to become a kind, considerate person, or take the low road and be a narcissistic prick. There are many choices in life that cost no money, yet pay dividends.

And then there is this…


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