Thursday, 19 April 2007

Binge and purge

TigerHawk talks eminent sense about the legal drinking age:

On the drinking age, I think the right answer is now and always will be obvious. Individuals should be able to purchase alcohol on their own account starting at age 19, which would liberalize the current law considerably and still allow for the policing of unsupervised drinking among high school students. In addition, teenagers older than, say, 15 should be able to drink in the company of their parents, either in private or in restaurants. Responsible drinking has to be taught. One can’t help but believe that the current generation binges because it has had no opportunity to learn that responsibility from the people in the best position to teach it to them.

The only thing I might add is that I’d prefer some sort of policy that got colleges and universities out of policing student prohibition. Lowering the drinking age to 19 would continue the temptation for “student life” officials to (largely ineffectually) regulate all alcohol consumption by students, regardless of age. I’m not sure what the exact solution to that conundrum is, but I am certain that I’d rather have freshmen drinking openly than “out of sight” in the basement of some frat house or off-campus apartment.


Any views expressed in these comments are solely those of their authors; they do not reflect the views of the authors of Signifying Nothing, unless attributed to one of us.
[Permalink] 1. TigerHawk wrote @ Fri, 20 Apr 2007, 5:44 am CDT:

I agree with you on that last point—my guess is that it will diminish to relatively minor interference on most campuses, but maybe I’m insufficiently in touch with the modern university.

[Permalink] 2. Alfie Sumrall wrote @ Fri, 20 Apr 2007, 6:40 am CDT:

I like the idea of age 19 versus age 21. At the same time, I’d follow (and correct me if I’m wrong) Alabama’s lead and raise the age to buy tobacco to 19. I don’t see much reason why they shouldn’t be uniform (gambling would also be lowered to 19) and raising the smoking age a year might help sway some votes in various state legislatures.

At the end of the day, I agree that responsibility should be taught. Basically forcing someone into binge drinking in the basement of a frat house (not really forcing but you get the point) b/c you’re not allowed to drink in the bars is not the way to do that.


If I am not mistaken, some states DO allow those under 21 to drink in the presence of their parents. I seem to recall someone telling me that a minor could have a drink at a table in a restaurant in Mississippi if it were purchased by her or his parent….does anyone know if this is a tall or true tale?

I admit, it’s tough to think of a LONG list of reasons not to lower to 19 (not 18….drinking in HS is bad enough and anyone who doesn’t think this would raise HS drinking a few percentage points is kidding themselves….and please don’t trot out any stats related to HS drinking when the drinking age WAS 18….the world, perhaps most especially high school, is a very different place).

However, I fall upon the Curmudgeon Defense…..I don’t want them d@&% kids on my lawn OR in my bars….heck, I’d raise it to 30 for drinking in public (19 to purchase for private consumption) if I could with the additional caveat that anyone (over 30) wishing to drink in an establishment I was currently in would have to be approved by me before they could enter.

Anyone already in a bar that I entered would have to line up for approval. All the “aloof” people would be the first to go.


Being excluded from bars and not even being thought of as “man-sized.” I don’t know how I can continue to take these insults!

[Permalink] 5. Alfie Sumrall wrote @ Sun, 22 Apr 2007, 7:21 pm CDT:

I’ve heard about the Mississippi law Scott talked about for years, but an unexhaustive Google search didn’t help much in verifying it. I did learn that the state didn’t allow alcohol until over 30 years after the amendment that repealed prohibition was passed (after being the first to ratify the amendment that created it) and that, today, about half the counties are dry (definitely none I’ve spent time in).

I did see something interesting in Missouri that is simply crazy:


Anyone under the age of 21 who takes out household trash containing even a single empty alcohol beverage container can be charged with illegal possession of alcohol in Missouri.

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