Sunday, August 24, 2008

A discussion about lowering the legal drinking age

A former college president had the temerity to challenge institutions recently and ask for a dialogue - yes, just a dialogue, not a vote by presidents of higher institutions - about lowering the drinking age for college students - essentially lowering the drinking age for all.

A girlfriend and I were discussing this recently. I maintain that if a person is old enough to vote about who leads the state and country, and old enough to sign up to join the armed forces and go to war, they are old enough to drink.

Maybe what should happen is we should not let 18 year olds drink or vote. Where would we be then?

We have heard the arguments about brain development - maybe the brain is not sufficiently developed to handle voting and military service either. I have 3 sons over 18 and only one of them is registered to vote - the other two are - let's say - knuckleheads and not quite there yet, much to my chagrin. If my sons are a statistic, then I say let's have the damn conversation.

One night, I got a call from one of my sons right at his curfew time - the rule was always if you aren't going to make it home by curfew, please call by curfew time so that I did not needlessly worry. This son had had too much to drink and was worried about driving home - talk about responsible and irresponsible......I am proud of him for recognizing what needed to be done even while under the influence.

I grew up in Europe and learned to drink at home with my parents. I would not have known what to do if I saw someone binge drinking - the concept was absolutely foreign to me. In my senior year of high school, I was in a bar for the first time and ordered a screwdriver - it was nothing out of the ordinary - as stated, I had imbibed at home on many occasions and always responsibly, with loving parents looking on, reminding me to be responsible.

I think we need to have the conversation - it is just another of those crucial conversations that is overdue.

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