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Violating your right to free beer, and a call to all dowsers

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If you thought the five-day waiting period for handgun sales had Montana’s civil libertarians foaming at the mouth, they’ll be positively locked and loaded over what Ohio legislators have shotgunned down the throats of their citizens. A new Ohio law that took effect Aug. 9 requires anyone buying five or more kegs of beer to fill out a form with the Ohio Department of Public Safety, and then wait five days before picking them up. If you think that’s a harsh shot to swallow, try this as a chaser: In a plot twist torn from the script of Animal House meets Animal Farm, the new law, dubbed “Five in Five,” also gives law enforcement the right to search the site of a keg party without a search warrant. Obviously, any criminal activity turned up in that search becomes legally admissible evidence.

What drove Buckeye State lawmakers to use the Fourth Amendment as a bar rag? According to George Getz of the Libertarian Party in Washington, D.C., the impetus for the law was a large keg party at Ohio State University last April that turned violent, which police had to break up using tear gas. (Indy etiquette tip #346: Don’t let your party guests run out of cups.)

So, just what are the police going to search for during the five-day waiting period, unpaid bar tabs? And if beer permits are deemed constitutional, what’s next? Background checks for condom purchases? Drug screening for double lattes? A complete physical for fast food drive-up windows? No word yet on any court challenges, but we predict some Ohio lawmakers will need to sober up or risk getting disbarred.
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Recently found in the Indy mailbag:

“Dear Editor: I am president of the Big Sky Dowsers Association and we are having a convention of Montana Dowsers on August 19th and 20th in Helena, Montana. There are a considerable number of dowsers living throughout Montana, but they are scattered around the state and it is hard to locate them. Will you please print this letter? It will be a service to your readers and will help us contact dowsers we would otherwise miss. Sincerely, Gary Lee Watt.”

You’ve got to be putting us on, Gary Lee. Dowsers can, like, find underground water sources with pointy sticks and lost metal objects with swinging pendulums. You mean to tell us you can’t even keep track of each other?

All the same, we’re honoring Gary Lee’s request. If you are a dowser, know any dowsers, or are nurturing an inchoate interest in what the olde-tymers call “water witching,” please pass the word about the Dowsefest 2000 in Helena. Gary Lee promises a fun and interesting time. For more information, please contact him at (406) 443-5753 or gwatt@mt.net. Or just hang a stick out the window and see what happens.

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