Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

““The real damage is done by those millions who want to ’survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.””     Sophie Scholl

January 22, 2006

Thinking About Teen Drinking

by Eric

One of the sub-sets of the War On Drugs™ is the continuing, and pretty well fruitless, effort to prevent people under the age of 21 from drinking. Brad, the Unrepentant Individual, points out yet another episode in this continuing and puritanical folly in Alabama.

If the bill becomes law, people could drink draft beer only at a bar, restaurant, private club or other retail establishment licensed for beer sales by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, said Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, the bill’s sponsor.

There’s so many reasons that this is not just stupid, but morally repugnant, swirling through my head that I hardly know where to begin. I think I’ll just toss out a list of thoughts at this point and all and sundry are welcome to join in the conversation.

  • Obviously, all you have to do is drive across the state line to one of the states that borders Alabama, buy a keg and drive it back to Alabama. Since this is interstate commerce, I don’t think there is anything that Alabama can do to prevent this, provided that you meet all the legal requirements to buy alcohol in the other state and consume, or possess, alcohol in Alabama. Even if you don’t, let’s stop and think about how well Prohibition worked.
  • The intent, acccording to Singleton, is to cut down on teen drinking at parties. This won’t do a darn thing to prevent, or diminish, teen drinking. Nothing. What it does is to prevent me from perfectly legal and ethical activity on the off chance that I might do something wrong. That is hardly a presumption of innocence until I’m proved guilty, now is it? This is like the media companies (Sony, anyone?) who want to prevent legal copying of music because you might make an illegal copy.
  • I’ve lived, and travelled, in Europe. One of the immediate things you notice is that Europeans don’t have the same puritan attitudes towards kids drinking as many Americans do. In Germany, for example, kids can, and do, go buy beer for their parents at the local store. And, teenagers go into bars and have a beer. I haven’t studied this, or looked up any statistics, but my personal observation was that they handled it much better than American kids do. Probably because it’s not treated as taboo.
  • It’s a bit hypocritical to insist that a 16 year old can drive a car, an 18 year old can assume the responsibilities of adulthood, including writing contracts, joining the military and voting, but you aren’t responsible enough to drink alcohol until you’re 21.
  • My experience as a teenager says that making it forbidden just guarantees that the kids go off somewhere secluded and drink anyhow. This is usually the worse alternative because now you have a bunch of drunk teenagers driving from wherever the party was. That’s so much better. Great plan guys.

Mike, at No Angst Zone, has an excellent rant in response to this topic. Although I have to say that I think a bit of angst is showing through Mike. ;-)

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  1. Hey man, are you saying you’re against keg control? How about we meet halfway, and each keg must come equipped with a coupling lock and be stored in a government-approved keg safe.

    After all, it’s for the children!

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — January 22, 2006 @ 3:46 pm
  2. Couldn’t agree more about the fact that making alcohol taboo just makes people treat it stupidly.

    That said, there are a lot of 18 year olds that I know who would be more than capable of responsibly putting back 1 or 3 down at the local bar, myself included. Hell, we generally do that when we’re drinking on our own. It’s stupid to punish us by treating us like kids.

    Comment by Mike — January 23, 2006 @ 12:37 am

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