Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Drinking Age

Watching Fox News tonight, I found it interesting that the subject of the drinking age has come up again.

Apparently, several states are debating whether to lower their respective legal drinking ages to 18 again. If you remember, the federal government dangled the threat of losing highway money to states if they didn't increase the age to 21. That threat by the feds gets used quite often, a clear violation of constitutional states' rights if I ever saw one.

Now, before you chide me, let me state something clearly. My views on this have nothing to do with the actual issue of consuming liquor. You will find true, saved Christians who have differing views on alcohol. Some are teetotalers, some are not. Both have convincing arguments. My purpose here is not to take a position on whether Christians are allowed to consume alcohol. My issue -- in this instance -- is secular civil society. Issues of conviction and conscience are a different matter altogether.

If an 18-year-old is a legal adult, then an 18-year-old needs to have all the legal rights and responsibilities of adulthood. Can they sign papers? Can they enter into legal contracts? Most importantly, can they join the military, fight and DIE -- YES, READ THAT AGAIN . . . DIE -- for their country? Can they gain military rank and command men to go and die?

If they're old enough to die, they're old enough to have a legal beer. If they're not old enough to have a legal beer, then let's restrict the age of entrance into the military to 21.

Society really needs to come to grips with who is an adult and who isn't. This kind of silliness really gets me steamed.


Ron said...

Maybe there should be another measuring metric other than age.

crownring said...

When I was in high school, going across state lines in order to legally drink alcohol was the "IT" thing to do. When I was in college, younger dormmates would ask to borrow my ID, so they could go to the "IT" club and drink and watch male strippers. Once I watched my next door neighbor nearly carry her blind drunk roommate into the dorm. I did none of that, (NOT with my parents!)but alcohol was a part of life whether or not I drank.

The question is this.....will we be facilitating more alcoholism, more underage sex, and more tragedies if we lower the drinking age across the board? I don't know. I do know that it is common place for parents to host parties where alcohol is served to minors or simply allow their underage kids to drink at home. The logic is that if they're drinking at home, at least they're not drinking and driving or otherwise setting themselves up to be arrested. I also know 18 year old Natalie Holloway would likely still be alive had she not been drinking (and likely drugged with GHB) the night she died in Aruba.

BTW, Sola, you might remember when young people were demonstrating for the right to vote at age 18, using the same logic that if you're old enough to go to war, you're old enough to vote. However 18 to 21 year olds have the worst voting record of any age group in America. That won't happen with alcohol because booze is a lot more sexy than standing in line at the polls. (Maybe the law should be that if you don't vote, you can't drink.) BTW, until you've seen drunk college kids rioting in the streets because their college basketball team won the National Championship, you have no idea how seriously out-of-control the alcohol situation on America's campuses really is. Kids who want alcohol will get alcohol, whether or not they'll legally of age.

SolaMeanie said...

I understand what you're saying, and it's part of the age-old argument. I was a bit concerned on whether to even post this because I thought some would misconstrue my principle here to mean advocacy of young people going on drunken binges. That isn't my point. And there are probably more areas you could bring in beyond alcohol i.e. signing papers, accountability, etc.

My point is that if a society is willing to hold an 18-year-old criminally responsible as an adult . . . if they are old enough to marry and have families . . . and if they are old enough to be expected to give the ultimate sacrifice of their lives on a foreign battlefield, carping about whether they can legally have a beer or not seems silly. Society needs to make up its mind. Are they adults at 18, or are they still children? If they aren't adults until they are 21, then they need the law to so stipulate in a consistent fashion. The maturity level here is somewhat irrelevant. I have seen 18-year-olds who were far more mature than their parents.

crownring said...

Hi Sola,

The legal age where one should or shouldn't alcohol is one of the big bug-a-boos, perhaps a question that we will never be able to answer. Yes, the legal drinking age in America is an artifical, man-made limit. There is also nothing in the Bible about age limits on wine, although it says plenty about the perils of drinking too much and makes the case that pregnant women should not drink wine at all. I was raised Baptist/Methodist, Sola, so you easily can guess how my parents viewed the use of alcohol, even if Daddy did keep a jug of extremely HARD cider in the garage. (Wink, nod, gag.) I don't hold those views myself, but you should know that I have friends and acquaintances in various 12 Step organizations, so I view ALL DRUGS, legal or otherwise, with slight suspicion. So what we are essentially asking is when is a person old (mature?) enough to start using the DRUG we call alcohol?

BTW, if you want to know just how many of our everyday items contain some form of alcohol, ask someone you know who's on Anabuse, or failing that, just look at the ingredients list on any number of things you can pick up at the grocery store. Any ingredient with an ol on the end is a form of alcohol, including artifical sweeteners used in chewing gum and diabetic candy. Even certain household cleaners, hand lotion, or a bit of vinegar in salad dressing can cause someone in alcohol rehab to fail a blood test for alcohol. No ketchup, no prepared mustard, no pickles, no mayonnaise, no commercial salad dressing...a friend of mine faces that for the next 65+ days.

Anyway, since when did you start leaning towards Libertarian, Sola? You're starting to sound as crabby as Ron Paul! ;)

SolaMeanie said...

LOL! I'm not quite that far gone, CR. My late father took Antibuse, so I know the effects.

I imagine our modern age limits are out of whack when you look at how things were done in biblical times. I think if you compared a 15-year-old today to a 15-year-old in biblical times, the biblical teen would seem like a wise old sage. These days, we make emotional infants out of people beginning in childhood and continuing through adulthood.