2008-09-21

 

Freedom anyone?

The longer I live in the Midwest, the more I appreciate Hugh Hefner. He apparently started the playboy thing precisely to get rid of his own puritan upbringing; he has also been very vocal in showing that puritanism is as prevalent on the left (especially withing feminism and identity politics) as on the right. Indeed I was reminded of this last week with the editorial of the New York Times against an effort by many college presidents to discuss the lowering of the drinking age. No matter how one cuts it, armed or not with studies and statistics, it is always very sad to see a supposedly liberal newspaper advocate removing the freedom of adults. Indeed, this is what the legal constraint on drinking age is all about. Why can't adult males and females be given the responsibility of choosing when and how to drink---and accept the responsibility that comes with that freedom? After all, as it is commonly mentioned, those same people are considered adults when it comes to paying taxes, going to war, voting, reproductive choice, owning automatic guns---and they can even be put to death for serious crimes. Are any of these rights, responsibilities, and penalties lighter than drinking? Of course not. So let's stop this nonsense and acknowledge that maintaining the drinking age at 21 is nothing more than perpetuating a puritan, prohibitionist stance that has certainly failed as a means to prevent drinking by young adults---binge or otherwise.

As a university professor myself, I completely understand the college presidents who want to engage the nation in a debate about this topic. Anyone who teaches undergraduates these days, notices that these young adults are so very often not treated as such---which leads obviously to a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is about time that eighteen year-olds be treated as adults, with all the freedom and responsibility that we grant our (older) selves.

Mind you, it is true that when it comes to drinking, the USA is not at all the land of the free, even for adults older than 21. While adults (18 year-olds included) have the right to carry all sorts of loaded guns in cities, even recently with much support from the Democratic party, I am still not free to buy beer in a supermarket on Sunday in Indiana---as in many other states in the US. Freedom fries, anyone?

In the meantime, on this quiet Sunday evening, the city zen is on the pleasure of a slowly sipped Burgundy and Billie Holiday (below): "ain't nobody's business if I do"...


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