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Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

[CR] wishes all of our readers and supporters a happy and safe Independence Day! In honor of our nation’s birthday, we’re publishing a transcript of the Declaration of Independence. Please enjoy the holiday and the opportunity to reflect on the Founding Fathers’ vehement desire to found a country of “free and independent colonies.”

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription


IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

“National Birthday Party”

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

“Ever since Congress passed the Uniform Drinking Age Act of 1984, turning 21 has become a national birthday party, in every state, in every community. “You go out, hang out with you friends, you drink a s*itload, and you throw up,” says one 21-year-old. “and if you don’t throw up then your friends didn’t do their job.”

–From GuylandThe Perilous World Where Boys Become Men by Michael Kimmel

 

[CR] Responds to the HuffPost

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Last week, Dr. Deni Carise, a substance abuse prevention expert, offered a retort to John M. McCardell’s New York Times essay on the age of majority. Her essay was published in the Huffington Post and can be found here. Choose Responsibility responded to Dr. Carise’s passionate argument with the following statement:

Dear Dr. Carise,

I’d like to respond to your passionate denunciation of Dr.John McCardell’s May 28 viewpoint published on the New York Times web site.

First, it is important to note that Dr. McCardell’s essay was part of a larger collection of essays on the United States’ age of majority, which is 18 for most privileges associated with adulthood, e.g. the right to own property, serve on juries or serve in the military. Surely it is legitimate to ask if someone deemed capable of making choices in these fundamental areas cannot also make a similarly informed decision about alcohol.

Of course, as you mention, alcohol alters brain chemistry in a way that owning property does not. However, tests conducted on lab rats show that consistent overconsumption of alcohol in persons of all ages, not just adolescents, can adversely affects one’s health. The effects on human brain development are less clear. Yet while many neurologists agree that the brain does not finish developing until age 25, there is no empirical evidence that moderate consumption of alcohol by an 18-year-old is any more harmful than similar consumption by a 21-year-old. And if overconsumption, not necessarily age, is the overarching concern, then should we not be working to teach young people to consume in a safe and responsible manner?

You suggest that Dr. McCardell has a personal investment in this issue, and you are right—but for the wrong reason. Far from being let “off the hook” by a lower drinking age, college administrators would have no less responsibility to protect students under their aegis. But as any one of them will tell you, they would have a far better chance of influencing students’ drinking behavior while they can be in the same room with them than they can when the drinking takes place entirely in clandestine settings. As a substance abuse prevention expert, you are surely aware that nearly 1,500 college students die of overconsumption of alcohol annually—most of them under 21. The current law is in no way stopping young people, especially the 18-21 demographic, from drinking, but it is extraordinarily successful at preventing adults from teaching them how to drink responsibly.

You write of Dr. McCardell that he “makes unconnected leaps between issues and includes no data to back up his claims.” As I’m sure you’re aware, Dr. McCardell is the founder and former president of Choose Responsibility, an organization created to promote dispassionate debate about the presence of alcohol in America—particularly among its youngest citizens. McCardell and Choose Responsibilty have researched the topic extensively, and I encourage you to visit the site (www.chooseresponsbility.org) to see this research for yourself.

 

Readers, what did you think of John McCardell’s essay and of Deni Carise’s response?

From the Archives: Testimonial

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

TESTIMONIAL #18

“While in college I decided I wanted to help create a society where alcohol is used but not abused. I believe that the legal drinking plays a large role in how our society treats alcohol and that the current age causes abusive drinking. I also believe that the legal drinking age is a decision that should be left to the states as they can each experiment to determine the correct alcohol policies.

“A driving factor in my desire to change the legal drinking age may be the fact that I was arrested and forced to spend a night in jail because I was caught consuming alcohol at the age of 20. My friends and family get a kick out the fact that this Eagle Scout, altar boy, high school valedictorian, and otherwise very well behaving young man spent a night in jail for something that would have been completely legal if I had been 5 months older. They especially enjoy the fact that I walked directly from jail to church, as I never miss mass. I also fight for a lower drinking age because I can see how differently my friends and I treated alcohol before we were 21. The law didn’t prevent us from drinking it only reduced the number of occasions to drink. This meant that when we did have access to alcohol we consumed all that was available as we weren’t certain when we could drink again. After we were 21 we knew we could always obtain alcohol and quality became much more important than quantity. If drinking became something that we are taught rather than being pushed underground I believe fewer young people would drink abusively.”

~Adam Stephan

College athletes tip the (drinking) scales

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Student athletes are more often the heaviest drinkers in the overall student population. Half of college athletes (57 percent of men and 48 percent of women) are binge drinkers and experience a greater number of alcohol- related harms than other students. College athletes are also more likely than other students to say that getting drunk is an important reason for drinking. (Dying to Drink by Henry Wechsler, Ph.D.)

[CR]‘s John McCardell in the news again

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Choose Responsibility’s former president, John McCardell, participated in an online interview last week. The interview, published on Spreecast, came on the heels of his New York Times essay on the age of majority.

The interview, which can be found here, covers Dr. McCardell’s stance on the 21 vs. 18 year old drinking age and provides relevant statistics on brain development and on Congress’s inability to effectively legislate a unified drinking age.

As you may recall from the past, the Ameythist Initiative was founded to lobby Congress to reevaluate the highway funding connected with a state’s minimum legal drinking age. In his interview, Dr. McCardell discusses the importance of bringing this issue before Congress in hopes of making progress on a more effective drinking age.

Reactions to yesterday’s NYT essay

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

John McCardell’s essay spurred quite a conversation in cyberspace–and surely face-to-face– yesterday. Supporters and dissenters of a lower drinking age, albeit with a license, made their voices heard by commenting on the New York Times page, on our Facebook page, and through our Twitter feed.

We often receive emails from high school students interested in lowering the drinking age, and this is not surprising. These students perceive an intrinsic benefit in lowering the drinking age. So it was interesting that most of our commenters on the NYT page yesterday were, according to the information they provided, middle-aged people with young adult children. These people are not fighting for a lower age because they seek the freedom. Instead, based on their comments, this demographic favors a lower drinking age to enable a greater sense of responsibility in their children. The opinion of adults who can drink on their own yet do not have the opportunity to teach their children to do so demonstrates the disparity in the intention of the law and in the outcome of the law.

One particularly pertinent comment is included below. And readers, we’d love to hear what you think about Dr. McCardell’s essay. Go ahead and provide your insight in the comment section below.

From “A Cranky Alumna” in Ohio:

As the parent of two young adults, I was shocked at the ways their college experiences differed from mine regarding alcohol. At a small liberal arts college in the 70s, when the drinking age was 18, alcohol was an integrated and thus controlled and, indeed, educational aspect of college life. Wine and beer were served at college-sponsored functions; security was generally informed of larger student parties, loosely monitoring them not in search of violations but to ensure safety; it was a treat and an achievement to be invited to a professor’s home for an evening that might well include a tutorial on the fine points of a special apertif. In short, responsible, intelligent drinking was seen as an aspect of responsible, intelligent adulthood, something to which we all aspired.

By contrast, when my children attended a similar college 30 years later, the official position was that there was no drinking on campus. There was, of course: students drank as much as possible, as fast as possible, as surreptitiously as possible. There was no occasion for drinking with any objective other than to get drunk, and most frightening of all, students were so intimidated by the zero-tolerance policy that they refused to call security when problems–ranging from alcohol poisoning to drug overdose to sexual assault–inevitably ensued.

You tell me which strategy is most likely to result in healthy, responsible young adults.

 

John McCardell on the Drinking License

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Choose Responsibility President emeritus John M. McCardell published an essay on the drinking age and a proposed drinking permit in the New York Times today. The essay evaulates the effectiveness of the current drinking age and provides a common sense solution for teaching young people to drink, and act, responsibly. McCardell writes,

We should prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol in the same way we prepare them to operate a motor vehicle: by first educating and then licensing and permitting them to exercise the full privileges of adulthood so long as they demonstrate their ability to observe the law.

If you infantilize someone, do not be surprised when infantile behavior — like binge drinking — results. Prohibition is not the answer, and never has been. Let us treat young people who turn 18 as the adults who the law, in every other respect, says they are.

You may read the entire article here.

Solutions in Communication

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Several days ago, I posted about parents hosting parties for the underage children. And while we by no means endorse breaking the law–people under 21 cannot legally consume alcohol–we realize that parents of teenagers are in an uncomfortable position. It can be treacherous to speak candidly about alcohol without scaring a teenager away or making them think drinking is allowed.

Linda Flannigan, a parent from Summit, New Jersey and writer for the Huffington Post, noted the perils of turning a blind eye to drinking in a blog post published today. She beseeches parents to come to terms with their children’s behaviors, despite how uncomfortable the conversation might be, and she notes the value of solid communication.

Promising new research out of Penn State indicates that parents who adopt simple conversational tools with their kids can transform the way these children approach drinking. The lengthy study carried out by Dr. Turrisi includes easy tips: talk about alcohol, listen and don’t lecture and discuss rules and consequences of drinking, to name a few. When parents follow these guidelines, Turrisi found, underage drinking declines by up to 30 percent.

Flannigan proves that a positive relationship with adolsecents about alcohol yields promising results. The research she mentions suggests that aparent can be a young person’s best role model with regards to alcohol. However, it is difficult to read her post without noting that the law continues to prohibit parents from actually teaching children to behave responsibly.

DSM-5

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Fears that updating the DSM-5 would over diagnose thousands more college students as alcoholics have been put to rest, for now. Erika Christakis reported for Time that “editors of the DSM-5 countered that the change in definition won’t increase diagnosis.” However, she argues that semantics cannot hide the fact that college drinking occurs at astronomical, and dangerous, levels.

Christakis provides sobering statistics that any reader would find impossible to ignore. Drinking among young peole, she claims, is not decreasing but has likely increased in the last 14 years. Her statistics also show that underage people are not only drinking, but they are also driving.

The statistics are truly sobering. Every year, more than 3 million students between ages 18 and 24 drive while drunk. Alcohol accounts for 1,850 annual deaths in that age group, including deaths from car crashes and suicide. Almost 600,000 are injured under the influence of alcohol and another 700,000 have been assaulted by an intoxicated student. Around 400,000 had unprotected sex as a result of intoxication and 100,000 reported being too drunk to give consent for sex. Eleven percent of college drinkers damaged property. A quarter report academic difficulty due to alcohol use, while 150,000 college students have alcohol-related health problems.

Christakis’ article, published in a widely read magazine, demonstrates the increasing gravity of college drinking and reminds readers of the uncomfortable realities that can accompany irresponsible drinking. She concludes her piece by asking that we ignore, at least in principle, diagnostic labels and instead focus on the issue of harm reduction.