Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New debates about lowering the drinking age

I've been following this story off and on. I don't drink much alcohol. In fact, I drink so little that it's become a funny joke between DH and I because I can remember exactly when and how much I last had. The last time I drank anything alcoholic was in mid-December, at a Christmas party. DH ordered me a drink, and I drank about 1/3 of it, then happily drank pop the rest of the night. Before that I drank an orange wine cooler at a picnic in June.

Alcohol just doesn't hold any interest for me. I don't much like the taste of it, and I've never been fancy enough to learn to enjoy wine with my dinner. To be honest, I drank far, far more alcohol before I turned 21 than I ever did afterwards - the "cool" factor of it just wasn't there anymore... I consider it a great blessing from God that alcohol isn't an addiction for me.

I do understand the problems that it can bring. DH will be sober 6 years in May, and I am still incredibly proud of him. It was a long road before he quit drinking, and he hit rock bottom very, very hard before finally admitting his problem, and going to AA.

And our son is 12. So in one home we've got: a person with no interest in alcohol, a person who has a lifelong problem with alcohol, and a person who hasn't yet had to make a choice about alcohol, but eventually will. I would imagine my home is incredibly similar to a lot of households.

So this debate about lowering the drinking age is interesting to me, and I'm honestly not sure exactly how I feel about it. The whole thing is so complicated. And this certainly isn't that new of a debate, by any means, but it does seem to be picking up some steam all of a sudden.

Essentially, our current laws state that, until you are 21, you lack the judgment and maturity to drink. Never mind that scientific research has proven that the human brain does not stop growing, maturing, and developing until age 25, but fine.

As much as the following reasons have been used and reused, they are still true: the same nation that says you are not mature enough to drink until age 21 also says that you can vote, you can sit on a jury, you can sign a legally binding contract, you can get married, you can put your life on the line in combat, and do a myriad of other things, largely because these things are beneficial to the nation. It doesn't seem to matter whether they are beneficial to an individual person or not. You can also buy a gun at 18. But you can't buy a beer.

I just find that whole premise to be incredibly condescending and illogical.

Movements are under way in five states so far to examine the drinking-age issue.

  • In Vermont, the state Legislature has formed a task force to study the question.
  • In South Dakota, a petition is circulating that would ask the state to allow 19- and 20-year-olds to legally buy beer no stronger than 3.2 percent alcohol.
  • In Missouri, a group is attempting to collect the 100,000 signatures needed to get a measure on the November ballot to lower the state's drinking age to 18.
  • In South Carolina and Wisconsin, lawmakers have proposed that active-duty military personnel younger than 21 be allowed to buy alcohol.


Kelly said...

Hmmm...not sure what I think. I am the adult child of an alcoholic so I can attest to the extensive damage that can be caused by alcohol.

I do not drink any alcohol at all. In part, because it just doesn't appeal to me and in part because I don't even want to run the risk of developing an addiciton. Whether or not one can be genetically predisposed to such a thing is probably debateable but I'm not sure I want to run the risk.

I guess my initial reaction is that the drinking age really shouldn't be lowered. However, it is clear underage drinking is extensive. As you said, maybe the cool factor would be removed if the drinking age was lower.

Lots to consider. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

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