David Hoppe

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:: Drunk or annoying

What comes first?

by David Hoppe

Just in case you missed it: Indiana’s Supreme Court recently ruled that in order to get busted for public intoxication, being drunk isn’t enough, you must also be “annoying.”

Our Supremes overturned a previous ruling by the Indiana Court of Appeals. That appellate court found that requiring drunken people to be annoying before they could be busted was too vague a standard.

Not so, said the Supremes, who voted 5-0. Any “reasonable” person, they claimed, can recognize annoying behavior.

Like another judge famously said about obscenity, when it comes to being annoying, anybody knows it when they see it.

I personally love the preservation of this standard.

In the first place it is valuable because of what it says about getting high. And that is: Getting high is OK. Just try not to be annoying about it.

This is easier said than done. That’s because, as anyone who likes to drink can tell you, the only way to be certain you’re not annoying someone when you tipple is to make sure nobody is nearby.

So to those of you who enjoy getting cranked in a lonely corner of the park, in the bushes along the canal, or in some secluded doorway, I say, “Cheers!”

With any luck, this ruling will get the attention of concertgoers, surely the most annoying people anywhere. You know the ones I mean. At venues large or small, they’re the ones sitting behind you, the sousers who seem to have confused the club or concert hall with their livingroom.

It doesn’t matter what’s being played on stage, they ramble on about their lovers, parents, bosses. Like it or not, you learn about the car that’s broken down, the latest nude post on Instagram, that bastard Donny who’s going to get unfriended on Facebook.

A night in the hoosegow might do wonders for these people. Or, better still, let them drink at home, where the only people they can annoy are themselves.

Is it possible to be publicly intoxicated and not be a jerk? That’s a question worth pondering, especially if you happen to live in or near Broad Ripple, where annoyance + drunkenness has become a kind of sport, like dodge ball.

But then being annoying is the last thing on the perforated minds of most denizens of this neighborhood’s numerous watering holes. As far as they’re concerned, there’s nothing like a sweetened shot of something to make them sexy, smart, or sly. Drunk to these folks amounts to taking their best selves out for a night on the town. The world is theirs (for once); the rest of us just happen to be in earshot.

Which begs another question: What if our public intoxication law has it backwards? At the risk of putting our First Amendment rights on the line, maybe we should be more concerned with what’s annoying than with how much someone guzzles. Trouble is, there’d be more of us in jail than on the street. They’d have to bust us all.