April 2, 2008

Here's to Not Raising the Drinking Age...

Further to last night's TV go-round, I found myself with further ponderings on the issue of raising the drinking age from the current 18 to the American 21.

While good points were made by the Physician's group advocating for the change, I still wasn't entirely buying it. Here's my thinking: there are already many laws in effect that aren't being enforced - how about we start enforcing those first? Trying to legislate people to death just doesn't work.

How about zero tolerance for alcohol in drivers up to age 21? How about dropping the blood alcohol level for everyone? Frankly, accepting any alcohol in the system while driving is sending a pretty stupid message. A guest on the show was speaking to the fact that it would reduce injuries. Numbers indicate there may be a spike initially, but most results also indicate a leveling off over time. She herself brought up the American March Break footage (Girl's Gone Wild, anyone?), so I kind of don't see much traction in using the U.S. age as a really helpful tool.

I just see no difference taking place if a bunch of 17 and 18- year- old guys grab a 2-4, head to Elora Gorge for the day, and somebody dives wrong and ends up in a wheelchair. It doesn't happen often; booze is usually involved. But the drinking age won't stop this.

A better point that was made all around was the level of acceptance of alcohol in our culture. But, it's a legal substance, sold under controlled boundaries, and we have to accept personal responsiblity just like we do for smoking, driving a car, jumping out of an airplane or watching any show featuring Carrot Top. Some things may be not so good for you, but it's up to you to decide. Booze has been around since the first berries went bad, and a caveman drew the first Absolut ad on the cave wall. I believe the medicinal qualitites of various plants came next.

I questioned the whole theory of having to put 'ages' on so many things. We are just taking a stab at when, generally, a cross section of the population is ready to drive, to marry, to go to war, or to drink. The guest pointed out you don't do those things while intoxicated. I bit my tongue. Some people certainly do.

I generally like the idea of a coming of age for certain things. I'm not a huge fan of 5-year-olds getting manicures and hair extensions, expensive cars for 16th birthday presents, or breast implants for graduation. We've removed the 'you'll just have to wait' aspect of so much for our kids, they're not really kids anymore. That said, I'm not convinced delaying the first 'legal' drink will have much impact. I'd far rather the money for such a campaign went into enforcing existing laws to keep our kids, and others, safe.


Blogger Unknown said...

I agree, using ages as a guideline basically magically assumes that by 21 drinkers have learnt how to drink responsibly. It would be better to focus on the problems themselves rather than more or less arbitrary solutions.

As for laws, I've always thought there should be a second legislature whose sole task was to review and eliminate older laws.

April 02, 2008 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure raising the age to drink legally will solve anything here.Our society has made such a big deal about drinking including the wonderful LCBO, that pushing the age up to 21 will just create a black market eagerly supplied by fast buck operators esp during prom season. We have to demystify and demythologize booze.The way it is now, you read an LCBO flyer and the guys and girls act as if they're seconds from going into a dark room and ripping each others clothes off in lust. It's a government run organization.If it isn't "cool" it becomes a mere drink. Right? Stop the Hype!

April 02, 2008 3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Lorraine, I must agree with you. When more legislation is introduced it elevates the level of rebellion in us. Big Brother has far too much to say in things as it is. Common Sense needs to step to the plate and stand for our actions not more legislation to occupy another piece of paper.

April 03, 2008 7:58 AM  

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