Sunday, 25 October 2009

Raising the drinking age to 21?

Civitas bills its blog as 'Classical liberal comment' and indeed old JS Mill features largely in a recent post looking at binge drinking.

As I've mentioned here before, the libertarian freedoms that old JS advocated were curtailed for those under 21, and in similar vein the Civitas blog poses the question whether raising the drinking age to 21 would curb bingeing.

I don't recall being markedly more mature at 21 than I was at 18. It's always seemed to me to be illiberal indeed to allow a man to marry and be killed in battle but not to enjoy a beer before either event. But then I'm an Old Tory not a Classical Liberal, so would approach binge drinking from another very different direction.

Unlike Liberals, Tories feel little reservation in applying societal standards of morality. I'd shame and humiliate the binge drunks; posters of a comatose wide-boy laying in a pool of his own urine, posted in his local community with the question 'Would you date this man?', or posters of a pantie-less lass spreadeagled on the pavement in a puddle of her own vomit with the question 'Would you take her home to meet Mum?'. Combined with more arrests and convictions for Drunk & Disorderly - let's get the plods off their arses doing something useful for once - a strong dose of public moral hypocrisy is the one way to make inroads into binge drinking.

I admit hypocrisy unashamedly; I've drunk alcohol on a heroic scale all my adult life, and with very few exceptions long ago have always behaved impeccably in public whatever industrial quantities of booze I have taken. It's a combination of being able to take it, and knowing the limits. You see, the problem isn't alcohol - it's self-respect.


Andrew Ian Dodge said...

I find the argument in favour of a 21 year old drinking age counter-intuitive. In the US you can pretty much do everything in life legally except drink at between the ages of 14-18 (depending on the state).

Its against natural justice and basically criminilises everyone person in the land under-21.

I believe in one age for maturity be it 16 or 18.

21 is a non-starter and just idiotic.

Its a failure in the US and it would be in the UK.

Blue Eyes said...

I prefer the system we had up until about 1997 which was that 16-17 year olds were tolerated in certain pubs as long as they behaved themselves. That way we learned to be civilised for fear of being "found out" or "thrown out".

The big moral outrage about alcopops and resulting crackdown on establishments happened shortly before my 18th birthday with the bizarre result that having been used to drinking in pubs we were forced to get tins from the "offie" and drink in the park where there was no supervision whatsoever.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

BE, you've got a good point there.

It's another example of the triumph of box-ticking over common sense, with a result similarly disastrous to every other example of the same tendency.

Anonymous said...

Why do righteous people link alcohol with war and even marriage?
they did not stop for a beer after the normandy invasion regardless of age.
Though oddly military police often stopped the young soldiers from going to brothels in the rearguard areas.

Raedwald said...

Anon - because the Law assumes you're responsible enough to die for your country at 17, and get wed at 16, but not responsible enough to buy a pint of beer until you're 18.

And the experience of my father's regiment from the 6th of June 1944 onwards, across France, Belgium and the North-West German plain, is that they enjoyed, in turn, Calva and hoarded Champagne, wine and gin (all donated voluntarily) then Schnapps, Sekt and beer by the bucket (somewhat more grudgingly surrendered ...)

Anonymous said...

The problem with your posters Raedwald, is that the wide-boy's dad and the pantie-less lass's mum would have taken those pictures on their mobile phone.