Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Youth Rights: A Lower Drinking Age - Doubtful

I've always been a strong advocate of youth rights - the concept that everyone, regardless of age, deserves some representation and some "fair" rights. I firmly believe that allowing the youth to vote would be a GoodThing(TM) as it would force older Americans to show up at the polls to make sure "those kids!" don't wreck the place (because everyone knows, it's us youths who are spending trillions and taking away freedoms as we play on your lawns).

Along with lowering the voting age, many in the youth rights movement want to see the drinking age lowered to 18, or removed completely. Although I'm a non-drinker, and a non-parent, I've always believed that in an ideal world, parents would raise their children and the government wouldn't regulate what beverages parents provide to their offspring. For that matter, if some youth has money to purchase alcohol, I don't see a problem with said youth choosing to spend their money purchasing an alcoholic beverage the same way an adult might purchase such goods. We have public intoxication laws, DWI laws, etc and these should be enforced on anyone of any age - I'm not endorsing drunk driving or public intoxication/disorderly conduct, simply suggesting that we don't need to have extra laws that are based on age. I know what you're thinking - the government doesn't come into your home and make sure you don't give your offspring a beer - now take your offspring to your local Morton's Steakhouse and try to get a glass of wine with that steak for your 16 year old - good luck with that, even if you pay double.

While all of this sounds nice in my little ideal world, today's APP stories are both enraging and completely disheartening.

First I read that 17 "youths" were arrested at PNC Back Arts Center for underage drinking. I have to use the term "youths" lightly as "There were one 18-year-old, seven 19-year-olds and the rest were 20, [Sgt. Stephen Jones of Holmdel PD] said. " In case no one was paying attention - 18, 19 and 20 are not "youths" - they are adults. This "crime" will be on their criminal record, as adults, not their "juvenile" records never to be seen again - but the "crime" is only a "crime" because they are "juveniles" in some strange way when it comes to alcohol. The usual complaints follow - "adults" who are old enough to vote, serve in the military, get married without parental consent, engage in sexual intercourse with other adults without parental consent, can purchase lottery tickets (but ironically can't gamble at a casino - 21 for that) - you can buy tobacco and get lung cancer, but not alcohol and kill the liver. I, for one, just want to believe that these laws are simply the Criminalization of the Youth. It doesn't make sense to set the drinking age to 21 when society has somehow figured out that 18 is close enough to being an adult. Of course, I'm sure there are plenty of those who would gladly see most anything (aside from military service) to see a raise to 21.

Did I win over your support through sympathy yet? No... didn't think so.

Second I read about this dopey drunk 19 year old who causes $5000 worth of property damage named Erol Papraniku. The quick "facts" - 7:30am! - Holmdel rich kid. 2000 Mercedes-Benz. 3 "adult" friends in the car, also drunk. Passing 2 cars == fail. And because of this dolt, my own support even wans because on the same day I see those 17 "adults" arrested for being "youths", I read about this fella who is the same age and can't obey the law. Something about one bad egg or a spoiled bunch, I'm not old enough to know the phrase.

I urge all of my youth rights supporting friends along with any and all readers to remind your offspring, your classmates, friends, brothers, sisters, etc that just one idiot like Mr. Erol Papraniku is why the 17 other "youths" get criminalized, just for being the wrong age. It's hard for me and other youth rights activists to make progress when even one blatant mistake like this is made. I'm certain that there was at least one, probably many more "adult" DWIs and/or accidents on the same day - but they don't make the news and they are somehow acceptable or at least understandable - but this is what we have - the media pointing out when the youth screws up, no one around to report if and when we do right thing.

Want to see a lower drinking age? Stop acting like idiots and driving drunk. Stop drinking in the parking lot of PNC bank directly in front of State Police officer. Use that lump above your shoulders and convince your friends to do the same. A small amount of self-control and responsibility will go a long way. Surely you 16 year olds won't see the benefits of your efforts, but if the next few graduating classes can keep their DWIs and drunk driving deaths and arrests down, maybe, just maybe, future generations won't be criminalized just for being youths. (I know this can't be explained to most 16 year olds, I don't know why I bother sometimes)

I offer this song from the punk-rock band Anti-Flag titled Drink Drank Punk:
gulp, gulp, gulp
i want to
drink more beer
until i
puke
drink drank punk (repeat)
i'm so cool
i can drink so much
i can drink
more than you
drink drank punk (repeat)
met a girl at the bar oh
she was a 10 at 2:00 i gave her four stars oh
i took her home she spent the night oh
at 10:00 am she was a fright
some old guy
bought me some
alcohol
we got drunk at the mall
drink drank punk (repeat)
mom's gonna get us at the mall oh
in a drunken stupor hope i don't fall oh
i chew on a big wad of gum oh
mom won't notice, she's old and dumb
drink drank punk (repeat)

1 comment:

haddjose7 said...

Jim,

You're making the argument against your own argument, especially when you say you don't expect 16 year olds to understand.

The only way things will change is when those 18-21 year olds get off their asses to vote. They are not merely disregarded because of their age, but due to the fact that they don't vote in large numbers.

Senior citizens vote in large numbers. So just be thankful there isn't a "Get off my Lawn Act" or a "Mandatory Permanent Left Blinker Activation Law."

My real fear about younger people is the gaps. The gaps are widening between rich and poor, active and inactive and most importantly between intelligent and stupid. I see this all too often. I've met/interviewed people who fall into the adults who can't legally drink category. A lot of them shouldn't be given access to sharp objects, keys to a car or alcohol. On the other hand, I've met some people of that age group who blow me away with their diligence and thoughtfulness.

Lugar96