Sunday, 5 January 2003

“Binge” Drinking (updated)

Radley Balko and Jacob Sullum write on the latest study from the neo-Prohibitionists on so-called “binge drinking.” Both point out that the definition is a bit bizarre: five drinks in a single sitting, with no reference to time at all. So, for example, if you start drinking at 6 p.m. and stop at 11 p.m., if you only have one drink in an hour you're “binge drinking”; never mind that if you weigh more than 100 pounds you'd barely even have a buzz at the end of it.

I won't pretend there isn't a problem with alcohol abuse in this country, but this definitional trickery seems to be another in a long line of those perpetrated by MADD (and other public health advocates, who want to make their favored societal problem a “disease” or ”public health threat”) to move the goalposts and demonize behavior that offends their personal sensibilties more than it causes tangible problems in society.

The zone-flooding on this one has started; InstaPundit and Radley have linked to this TechCentralStation column by Iain Murray that argues “The Temperance Movement is Back”. An interpretation that MADD has fallen victim to mission creep (as many groups do once their core goals are accomplished, like the NAACP, the feminist movement, and the Environmental Protection Agency) might be too charitable; MADD is rapidly showing its true colors as a prohibitionist group akin to the Womens' Christian Temperence Union of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.