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The Big O Weighs In On Drinking Age Debate

Today the Oregonian ran an editorial against the Amethyst Initiative and its proposal to debate lowering the drinking age (which I previously wrote about here). It was bad, failing to produce any real argument or evidence for its claim, but one passage in particular made me really scratch my head:

[C]ollege presidents are really just showing off a trove of conventional wisdom. In essence, they’re repeating the familiar refrain that banning drinking intensifies the allure of alcohol (and thus promotes a “culture of dangerous, clandestine” bingeing on their campuses).

But how “clandestine” is all this, really? At many colleges and universities, it’s not very. Students are fairly open in violating the law, and the universities either tacitly approve or look away. In effect, they’ve already lowered the drinking age on their campuses — but there’s no sign it’s helped.

Excuse me? I’m not sure what university the Oregonian editorial board attended, but maybe they should visit the UO, where the EPD’s infamous “party patrol” roams free, DPS is ever-vigilant and, besides the occasional burnt-out stoner, RA’s are vicious fiends. The UO “tacitly approves” of underage drinking like maltreated Rottweillers tacitly approve of small, doughy children.

Note to Oregonian editorial board: Removing your head from your ass might result in slightly more logical editorials.

P.S. Et tu, Reason?

  1. Gsim says:

    Slightly off topic, but since it was brought up: In the vast majority of states there are no laws against people under 21 from owning handguns. Lots of states have laws against people under 18 from owning handguns (such as Oregon), but for many states it is 16 and other states it is younger still.

    You only need to be 21 to buy a handgun from a federally licensed dealer. Private sales for the win!

  2. CJ Ciaramella says:

    At least someone finally got around to redesigning their trainwreck of a website.

  3. T says:

    Meh, the crack Big O editorial team is probably just stressed over the news that the paper will be laying off — I’m sorry, buying out — something like 100 employees this month. And that’s hot on the heels of the eight million or so buy outs they’ve already announced this year due to its shitty sales.

  4. Lots of good stuff here. By the way, if you’re into this story and all the compelling angles, go to Choose Responsibility — which is essentially leading the charge to lower the drinking age — is taking on the Governors Highway Safety Association. The GHSA says the 21 law has saved 25,000 lives. Is that accurate?

  5. Niedermeyer says:

    “Since 1988, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk-driving deaths have dropped in all age groups. That’s due in part to stricter enforcement and changing public attitudes about drinking and driving.”

    This really exposes the whole argument. The change in drinking age corresponds just as well to major changes in attitudes towards drunk driving as it does to crash statistics. I don’t find the non-causal statistical correlation that the Reason piece hangs it’s hat on particularly convincing, considering how much it underplays these attitude changes. But ask anyone what attitudes towards drinking and driving were up to the mid-80’s or so. It carried basically no social stigma at all… but y’know, feel free to ignore that.

    Also, I take issue with the article’s use of other unnecessarily restrictive laws to justify the high drinking age. Like this:

    “Besides, we don’t have a single age threshold for adulthood. We give driver’s licenses to 16-year-olds, but a 20-year-old Marine returning from Iraq will find he may not buy a handgun or gamble in a casino. Why permit 18-year-olds to vote but not drink? Because they have not shown a disproportionate tendency to abuse the franchise, to the peril of innocent bystanders.”

    As opposed to the 18-year olds who kill people by playing blackjack? Or, for a different twist, let’s find out how many “innocent bystanders” have been killed (in a combat zone) by soldiers under the age of 21 and compare that number to the number of Americans killed by 21-year-olds with guns. The inconsistent ages for gambling, gun ownership, drinking, military service, voting, etc are complete bullshit, and no amount of weak, non-causal statistical “analysis” is gonna convince me otherwise.

    Worst. Reason Article. Ever.

  6. TedTheTiniestTurtle says:

    sooooooooooooooooooo, did you read the article? seemed to be pretty reasonable to me. is anyone arguing that reducing the drinking age wouldn’t increase drunk driving accidents? “not neccesarily” arguments don’t count.

  7. Niedermeyer says:

    Boo to Reason. Especially because when I paid for my subscription in February I expected to receive more than one issue.


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