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L. Neil Smith's
Number 535, September 6, 2009

"Void the Bill of Rights, you void the Constitution."

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The Drinking Age: One of America's Greatest Hypocrisies
by Sean Gangol

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

There are many laws in America that seem both ridiculous and hypocritical. One of them is the drinking laws of this country. At the age of eighteen an individual is old enough to assume almost any responsibility. An individual at that age is old enough to hold a job and live out on his own. At that same age a person is old enough to have consensual sex. If you commit a crime at the age of eighteen, then you will most certainly be tried as an adult. If there is a war, an eighteen-year-old can expect to find himself drafted into the military where he can be forced to fight and possibly die in some third world hell hole. We can trust an eighteen-year-old to defend the freedom and security of this country, but we can't trust them to drink responsibly. This absurd notion fits the very definition of hypocrisy.

People in our society seem to want to have it both ways. They want eighteen-year-olds to take on adult responsibilities and face the consequences as adults. Yet they refuse to allow them to take on the responsibility that comes with drinking.

This is partially because of an organization known as Mother Against Drunk Driving (MADD). I personally like to refer to them as Mothers Against Freedom and Personal Responsibility (MAFPR). My abbreviation probably doesn't have the same ring to it as MADD, but it certainly describes the mindset of these glorified soccer moms. Don't get me wrong, I think a person should always know when he has had too much to drink and should avoid doing anything that would endanger the lives of others. The problem with MADD is that they have been instrumental in bringing about laws that violate the very core of the Constitution.

Prime examples of this are check points that are set up to catch anyone driving under the influence. There have been a few judges who have declared these road blocks to be unconstitutional. This has also led to convictions from performing phony sobriety tests. Just because somebody isn't coordinated enough to walk a straight line or touch his nose, it doesn't mean that the person is drunk. In the state of Texas, if a person refuses to submit to a sobriety test, the police can call any judge that they have on speed dial to obtain a warrant, so that they can forcibly collect blood from the suspect. If the blood tests are positive, you can find yourself convicted of a DUI. Some members of law enforcement have even gone as far as arresting people for public intoxication, while drinking at a bar. With arrests like this it is no wonder that the US has a higher incarceration rate then China.

One of the greatest successes of MADD is the way it lobbied Congress to bully states into raising their drinking ages to twenty-one. To be fair, it's not just the federal government or the soccer moms that are to blame for the hypocritical drinking laws. The lack of backbone among state representatives, who were afraid of losing their precious federally funded roads, is also to blame. It's funny; I don't see anything in the Constitution about states receiving federal handouts for roads.

MADD is so fanatical about keeping alcohol away from young adults that they have even torpedoed bills that would allow servicemen under twenty-one to drink. That's the thanks we give to the young men and women who serve this country. Any moment a serviceman has can be his last, so why not let him enjoy the simple pleasures in life? And I thought MADD was made up of compassionate mothers.

There was a time when a fanatical group of women decided to impose their will on the nation by pressuring the government to pass one of the worst laws in the history of the US. It is amazing how the passage of the drinking laws parallels prohibition. Both of the laws were imposed on the national level by fanatical women. Another parallel is that the drinking laws have failed in preventing kids from drinking; just as prohibition failed in keeping booze out of the hands of the general public.

Contrary to what MADD claims, the laws have not kept underage kids from drinking. They brag about how the raising of the drinking age has lowered deaths caused by drunk driving. What they don't seem to realize is that underage drinking is higher then ever. It also encourages teens to drink at greater excess. Binge drinking has become such a popular pastime at frat parties that we see an increase in deaths from alcohol poisoning.

What the members of MAAD have failed to take into account is that you can't prevent certain acts by passing more laws. That's also what the lovely ladies in the temperance groups failed to realize.

It is true that people do stupid things when they are young. There is no argument against that logic. When you are young, stupidity seems to come with the territory. Making stupid mistakes is part of the learning experience. It doesn't really stop when you turn twenty-one. By allowing young adults to be accountable for their mistakes, they can learn to make better choices in the future. You can't force someone to act like an adult, while shielding him from certain responsibilities.


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