August 26, 2007

Underage Drinking

Filed under: 100 Days of Summer,Rants,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:52 pm

I was on my way back from upstate New York earlier today and was riding through Harrisburg, PA. There I saw a big ass billboard. I was eating my lunch at the time, but seeing this made me lose my appetite quickly.

Report Underage Drinking!
1-800-UNDER-21

What?! Oh, yeah, I’m just going to rush right out and get some innocent 19 and 20-year-olds in trouble with the law because I feel like being a self-righteous cretin and utilizing a law created because a bunch of irrational mothers in the 1980’s sobbed in front of Congress enough about their dead children so now everyone 18-20, legal adults mind you, would be considered criminals for partaking in an activity that would be perfectly okay if they were only a couple years older.

You people make me sick. Was this for reporting domestic abuse? No. Was this for reporting arson? No. Was this for reporting car theft? No. Well, goodness, what’s it for? ZOMG, a 20-year-old is having a sip of wine!!! Not for committing a horrible act of violence against a family member or torching someone’s home or stealing someone’s mode of transportation. For consuming a substance that he’ll be perfectly allowed to consume in only a few months.

It’s not enough that the 21 drinking age is in effect. We have to go to all sorts of means to make people 20 and under know, to shove it down their throats over and over, that we do not consider them as first class citizens. Don’t feed me that crap about how “oh, we just want to remind them not to drink before they’re 21, we want to keep them safe!” Not buying it. That could be what you think it means, but what you don’t realize is how fervently you single out a portion of the population, essentially pointing to them and chanting “you can’t have this, you can’t have this”.

It’s not even about the alcohol itself anymore. Sure, alcohol is bad for you in excess. A lot of people when they first hear NYRA wants a lower drinking age, they shriek and are all like “oh noes, but alcohol is bad!” Well, the issue has gone well past that. Here’s why.

By prohibiting alcohol to those 18-20 years old, we are refusing them the right to their own bodies. Yet at the same time, being legal adults, they can have cosmetic surgery or abortions or do just about anything else. But somehow alcohol must be in its own category.

Furthermore, and this gets mentioned a lot yet no one has ever been able to refute it, you can join the army at 18. At 18, you can make the choice essentially to sacrifice your body and life on a battle field, to defend our country and all of the great freedoms we have. Yet somehow drinking a beer is a greater responsibility?

And, no, that crack about how “only enlisted men should be allowed to drink” doesn’t fly. Not only would that just give military recruiters another fruit to dangle in front of potential recruits who really would be better suited for something else, but like I said, it’s about the freedom to make the choice to do it. The army may be voluntary, but last I checked, so is drinking!

At 18, you can also become a firefighter, another very risky life choice. But apparently running into burning buildings to save babies at the risk of getting burned alive isn’t as great a risk as consuming a substance that might eat away at your liver over long periods of time.

As I’m typing this, my face and arms are sunburned because yesterday I was sitting out in the sun for several hours watching some horse races. Sunburn can eventually lead to skin cancer. Yeah, I’m 24 now, but this is the fifth time in a row we went to this, so first time I went, I was 20, and got just as sunburned as I did yesterday. I can sit outside for hours on end absorbing the UV rays and letting them damage my skin cells, putting me at risk of cancer, yet I couldn’t go in and get a beer at the time because the drink would very slowly damage my liver cells putting me at risk of cirrhosis.

But I suppose because I was only 20, if I had the right to drink (and make no mistake, I drank well before I ever turned 21), I would drink way over what I could handle and wind up with alcohol poisoning or trying to drive. That’s a crazy assumption. Knowing my own self, and knowing what I actually did at that age, I would not have more than a few sips. I suppose that isn’t good enough, though. Apparently not having been 21 yet, I wouldn’t know any better than to binge drink and then hop behind the steering wheel, so I couldn’t be trusted with that responsibility. I mean, at age 12, I could have murdered someone and be tried as an adult, because in that case I must surely have known better. Yet at age 20, couldn’t be trusted with a glass of wine. Yeah… that makes perfect sense. 🙄

I suppose you’re going to show me your “brilliant” brain studies now? The thing the media have been wetting themselves over? That apparently the brain isn’t fully developed until 21 (or 25) so drinking any alcohol at all under 21 will cause permanent damage? Oy, if that’s not a grasping for straws move if I’ve ever seen one. First off, those studies are either incomplete or did not use a statistically sound number of test subjects or the research was actually about something else entirely and that the results don’t show anything at all like what the news outlets are saying. There’s also the possibility that a special interest group was funding the study seeking a specific outcome, a practice which, sadly, is quite common. So don’t believe everything you read and hear. Give it some critical thought. Even if these studies were to be believed, not every country has a drinking age like ours. Only South Korea, Malaysia, and Ukraine, and maybe some others, have a drinking age at 21. India is 25. Saudi Arabia bans alcohol altogether. So that leaves, oh, the whole rest of the world with a drinking age below 21! Not to mention they are far more lax about alcohol than we are. Many don’t even have drinking ages, and some of the ones that do don’t enforce it the way it’s enforced here. Teen drinking is common in Europe, where drinking is more typically done in family settings and in moderation. It’s without the hysterical stigma there. So, if these brain studies are to be believed, does that mean everyone in the world is brain damaged? Except the Saudis?

And let’s not forget that the drinking age doesn’t work. I already said it. I drank before I was 21. You know who else did? Everyone else in the world! But you must clearly know it isn’t working if you’ve got your billboard with your stupid little number to call if someone underage (read: undesirable) is partaking in something you don’t think is right for their particular arbitrary group. Is the answer to just give more young adults criminal records, to persecute them for being second class citizens who are doing something only first class citizens are allowed to do?

Okay, fine, in your minds, you believe that 18-20 year olds are just children and need to be protected from themselves. But pull your deluded eyes away from the freshmen dorms and look at the whole world of this age group. Sure, some are half naked and gulping down red cup after red cup of Natural Light. But others are overseas in the line of fire fighting for this country. Others are driving ambulances and resuscitating our loved ones. Others are married and have kids already, and work hard every day to support their household. Responsible people, I’d say. But I dare you to go up to them, in person, and tell them to their faces that you believe they are immature brats who cannot make rational decisions. That you may be glad about the lives they saved but you still refuse to consider them as capable and entitled to the same rights as those 21 and over. Because you’re doing that already.

Fine, I get it, you don’t like alcohol and want to stop drunk driving. Drunk driving is in fact very very terrible. I can agree there and so can anyone with even half a brain. Alcohol, though? Don’t you know your history? Prohibition was tried back in the 1920’s. Didn’t work. We had speakeasies and the dawn of organized crime. Today’s youth prohibition? Doesn’t work either. We have binge drinking and wild, dangerous parties in hidden places. Not to mention a certain disrespect for the authorities that comes with being subject to such a discriminatory, senseless law. Drinking is going to happen. It’s part of our culture. Accept that. So maybe instead of pretending it won’t happen if you tell people not to drink, perhaps you could calm down about it, and realistically treat it not as a forbidden substance that is to only be consumed in excess at wild underground parties and sports events but as a drink that is nice to have a little bit of once in a while, but that too much can lead to health problems. Give people the chance to make right choices instead assuming they will make only wrong choices.

So, no, I will not call your stupid little hotline for reporting someone under 21 drinking. Why? Because it is not a problem and should not be a crime. Anyone who thinks so is an anti-youth self-righteous moron. And I’ve already very nicely outlined why, as well as many more points I didn’t even touch on. Supporting the 21 drinking age is disgusting bigotry, plain and simple. There is no reason for it. It does not work.

This has been Day 95 of the 100 Days of Summer, Round 7.

3 Comments

  1. Good rant! And I can confirm the less strict drinking laws in Europe. I’m 17 and I’m studying abroad at a university in Spain. When I got here I was looking forward to my 18th birthday which is two weeks away on the eight of september. But then my roomate introduced me to a marvelous concept, bars that don’t card. Now I go out drinking with my friends now and again and nobody as of yet has asked me for ID. Plus the drinking has helped me break out of my shell (I’m an extreme introvert), and helped me practice conversation, as sober I’m to shy to try talking to people in english- let alone my broken spanish.
    Anyway my point is I agree with you wholeheartedly. May I say it again? Good rant!

    Comment by Ameline — August 28, 2007 @ 5:26 am

  2. Hell yeah. Kick ass rant, Katrina!

    Comment by Adamantaimai — August 30, 2007 @ 6:49 pm

  3. You go girl! If only more people read rants like yours, we would have people with sense in their heads rather than these bigoted morons who sit in congress right now and in 1984. That law should have been an experiment and that experiment should end right now. Whether it was an experiment or not, we have the result – MLDA21 DOES NOT WORK.

    Comment by el eddie_1990 — October 24, 2007 @ 11:34 am

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