To the Editor:
I am thrilled to hear that there is pressure being put on by the collegiate community to re-think the drinking age. Currently, binge drinking is an epidemic on the rise not because there are not enough guidelines in place, but because there are in fact an over-abundance of rules. The United States is the only country of sizeable global power to impose such drinking laws on its youth. In this country, by the legal age of adulthood, one can decide who leads the government and fight and die in the military. Yet having a drink will require a few more years wait.
Moreover, it should be noted that this was tried on a larger scale once before with dire consequences. Prohibition did not end the public’s enjoyment of alcohol, it merely pushed it to a darkened corner and allowed it to become an avenue for illicit and organized crime. There is not popular sentiment to reinstate Prohibition today, because it is a mistake that our nation has supposedly learned from.
The arguments made by the likes of MADD that the increased drinking age helps insure driving safety are mere numbers that provide for misrepresentations of supposed truth. The fact is, many youths drive home drunk because they are not allowed to show that they have indulged, and feel the need to complete the night in equal secrecy to that of how it had begun.
If we entrusted to the college students of today the right to drink legally, there would still be binge drinking. This is a lifestyle and decision which has been forced upon them for so long that it has become a perhaps irreversible part of our culture; most individuals must re-learn how to drink lightly after the college experience. However, it would prove invaluable in the longview. While some will still binge, many will learn to enjoy alcohol responsibly, since it can be done at any time and in many social venues that are not strictly limited to basements and darkened apartment bedrooms. Like many things, drinking is a learning experience. Let’s teach our children the correct way to enjoy the first time around, before it’s too late.
James P. Zernicki
Cherry Hill, New Jersey