Friday, August 22, 2008

Drink and the Devil Be Done for the Rest

15 men.... well, anyway, everyone seems to be in on the act these days, even college presidents:

It is perhaps trite to say the argument is academic. Since when you take away the rights of a minority, especially one that does not vote regularly or en masse, in the interest of security, who will take the risk of restoring the rights? What political gain could possibly be had? So all the logical arguments in the world won't change the views of the law makers.

Now I don't believe drinking alcohol is a right, per se, but it is a freedom. In truth, if you don't break any laws, what does the government care what you drink? And if you drink and commit a serious, or minor, crime, what is the real problem - the crime or the fact that you were drinking?

College is college. It may not be Animal House, but there are certainly episodes of college that resemble the hi-jinks of Delta Tau Chi. In other words, to be shocked that there is underage drinking going on in college is frankly idiotic. While the university, doesn't condone it, they only half-heartedly seek to prevent it or enforce the drinking laws with any rigor. While the university does have some responsibility to enforce the law, they understand the futility of it, as well as the potential negative implications of alienating the student body (and limiting future fund raising), but there is also something also subversive, in that most universites' elite think they know better. They may actually know better, but when it comes to laws, that is not supposed to be the point.

The age of 21 seems quite arbitrary especially in view of the fact that you can join the military, fight in wars, kill people and even, yes, vote when you are 18, yet drink? forget about it. Somehow you are not mature enough or resonsible enough to drink a glass or wine, but you can drive a car, operate heavy machinery and wield fire arms. There is also no magic switch that gets turned on when you hit 21. If you are unresponsible at 20, you most likely will still be unresponsible at 21.

Given proper education and shown proper social settings, students can learn to drink responsibly at 18. However, there also have to be suitable alternative outlets for activities and socializing. Too often, simply from boredom, people binge drink - whether stuck in the frozen tundra in Finland or on the gothic quad of Duke.

MADD, in their rapid, rapid action response:
In fact, MADD CEO Chuck Hurley said, nearly all peer-reviewed studies looking at the change showed raising the drinking age reduced drunk-driving deaths. A survey of research from the U.S. and other countries by the Centers for Disease Control and others reached the same conclusion.

What peer-reviewed studies are they talking about? If it is so incontrovertible, then why doesn't every country raise the drinking age? Wouldn't Canada be losing people left and right? and if 21 works so well, why stop there? Wouldn't 25 be even better?

While CNN in their typical breathless, thoughtless prose, don't actually report much, other media outlet articles talk about different studies:
Drinking ages around the world vary, but in many European countries, it is 18. And the group behind the push notes on its Web site that the U.K., Germany, Australia, The Netherlands and Canada all had bigger declines in alcohol-related traffic fatalities than the U.S. during a 10-year period from 1982 to 1992 -- the time when the U.S. made 21 the national standard.
The colleges make a libertarian arugment that since students are drinking anyway, and resorting to breaking the law, we are creating or at least fostering a culture of law breakers -- thus leagalize it and regulate it (or educate about it). In some ways, it is curious that the university frequently makes libertarian arguments, since often they are too eager for regulation and laws when they fit their enlightened view. This goes back to the arrogance of the university, which believes it knows better, than society at large...but will do anything to not seem elite to the so called down-trodden. Roast an entire lacrosse team anyone? Destroy a coach's career? Speaking of that, CNN likes to get in a cheap shot:
Duke faced accusations of ignoring the heavy drinking that formed the backdrop of 2006 rape allegations against three lacrosse players. The rape allegations proved to be a hoax, but the alcohol-fueled party was never disputed.
So in other words, no crime was commited, it was all made up, nothing happened, but the alchohol-fueled party, now that was, ah, well, so what? nothing happened. It doesn't matter whether they were drinking or playing chess. CNN, in its vapid cheap shot, doesn't mention the accusor's drug indused, alchohol laden, pschosis fueled behavior, but likes to point to the heavy drinking as being the root of the non-existant problem.

Now bad stuff does happen at college, and there probably is far too much drinking. All the more reason to deal with it head on, sensibly, rather than knee-jerk or dogmatically.

No comments: