Monday, October 27, 2008

Military Man Endorses Lower Drinking Age

In the Towerlight Online, a retired school principal and military veteran discusses why he is in favor of lowering the drinking age.

Unfortunately, society is presently "forcing" our young people into illegally obtaining and consuming alcohol with many of them gorging themselves while planning for the next the binge. Therefore to fully appreciate this proposal, it should be compared to the process of obtaining a driver's license at the age of 16 where a training period is required first.

First I must point out the obvious by praising Mr. Q.D. Thompson for writing this letter to the editor and expressing his strong and favorable views towards lowering the national drinking age to 18. This article hits on some interesting points in relation to the drinking age debate. While I do praise this man for making this article, I long for a more extensive explanation of his comparison of this lower drinking age idea to a person receiving their driver's license at age 16. I am almost positive that the author does not support a drinking age in America of sixteen (16) years old. However, no explanation of his analogy is present. This confuses me. Nonetheless, the author is on board our ship that's leaving the harbor of the 21 year old drinking age and setting a course for the land of permitted drinking beginning at age 18. The author does finish with a positive message of the responsibilities that come with being allowed to drink alcohol three years younger than what the current drinking age law has been in place for many years.

Time For A Little Maturity In Our National Drinking Policy

For the last 24 years our Congress has deemed it appropriate to disenfranchise young adults across the nation. In 1984, Congress raised the minimum drinking age to 21 years, thereby seeing fit to allow our nation’s teenagers to serve and die for their country but not to enjoy an alcoholic beverage. Eighteen year olds are recognized as adults. They are required to register with Selective Service and sit on juries. They are permitted to carry weapons and serve in the armed forces. They are allowed to smoke and gamble, and they even face criminal prosecution just as any other adult would. Our society must recognize this hypocrisy for what it is; a well-intentioned, but short-sighted and immature, stab in the dark at a problem that desperately needs fixing.

This iniquity inexplicably continues today despite the fact that the Act’s original purpose still goes unaccomplished. According to Wagenaar and Toomey’s 2002 report “Effects of Minimum Drinking Age Laws” in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol, since 1984, alcohol-related fatalities amongst people 21 and older have decreased far more than those under 21 years of age. This illustrates that those who are permitted to drink are less likely to die from drinking than those who are prohibited from doing so. Tragically, many of these deaths could have been prevented. In 2004, at least 19 people of college age (18-21) died of alcohol poisoning. Many of these individuals could have been saved if they have received prompt medical attention. Unfortunately, they didn’t get this medical attention because their friends were afraid of the law. After 24 years of closing our minds and hiding behind a curtain of ignorance, it is time to shed some light on the causes of these fatalities so that the darkness of fear can be cast away at last.

Universities across the United States have recognized this travesty and have joined together to form the “Amethyst Initiative”, an organization launched in July of 2008 calling for the reconsideration of the drinking age laws, particularly the minimum age of 21 established nationally by the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. Initiated by John McCardell, founder of Choose Responsibility, the movement is currently supported by 130 college presidents who signed a statement proclaiming, “It’s time to rethink the drinking age.” Even more tragic, is that the Amethyst Initiative has been criticized by the original proponents of the 1984 Act, such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and the National Transportation Safety Board. Unfortunately, the grief these parents have felt has blinded them to the statistical reality that their children are no safer today, despite their best intentions and efforts.

Having lived through this controversy at two separate state universities, we cannot avoid the conclusion that lowering the drinking age would foster effective education on responsible drinking amongst today’s teenaged college students. We call on parents of university-aged students across the nation to view this problem as the mature adults we know they are and open their eyes to the facts. The inevitable result will be widespread support for the Amethyst Initiative in its goal of providing safer educational institutions for a new generation of young Americans.