[CR] Week in Review

Earlier this week, the New York Times published some reader responses to the paper’s recent editorial on the issues of binge drinking and the legal drinking age. If you haven’t had a chance, read all of the letters and Kathleen Reeves’ reaction piece at Campus Progress. Taken together, these three items should give you a good sense of the nature of the debate. In the end, we have to agree with Times reader Matt Hoffman, who noted the “futility” of an outright ban on alcohol use for college students. For the rest of the week’s news, check out these headlines:

Stories this week:

Orr Shtuhl, a contributor to the Washington City Paper’s “Young and Hungry” blog, weighed in with his take on John McCardell’s “Teach Drinking” essay in the most recent issue of The Atlantic. Shtuhl wrote, “The point here is that the current law is constricting, and we need more discourse and fleshed-out ideas before we can solve it.”The Journal News in White Plains, NY, published an editorial in support of Legal Age 21 back on July 2nd, and reader William Farrell wrote in to offer an alternative to the paper’s position. Farrell, and engineering student at McGill University in Montreal, argued that Legal Age 21 promotes an “all-or-nothing” culture that marginalizes those who would drink responsibly: “The problem in American universities is that the middle ground of drinking responsibly is removed from the equation, leaving students who would otherwise enjoy a casual drink to either drink as much as they can in as short a time possible, so not to get caught, or to not drink at all. More often than not, students would choose the former.”

James Wright, the former President of Dartmouth College and a signatory to the Amethyst Initiative, held nothing back when he spoke to WCAX-TV in Burlington, Vermont about his opinion on the legal drinking age. Though his Amethyst Initiative colleagues don’t endorse any particular policy, Wright said that in his opinion, the drinking age should be lowered: these young adults “are coming back here with wounds from Iraq and Afghanistan; they can’t go down the street and buy a beer. We can give them some of the most lethal weapons in the world to carry with them and we ask them to put themselves at risk and in danger and when they come back here they cant buy a beer because they’re simply not adults. They can select the president of the United States, but we don’t think they’re adult enough to buy a beer.”

In other news…

Joseph Szczesny of Time shed light on the ignition interlock provisions that may be included in the new version of the federal transportation bill when it is re-authorized. [CR] supports the use of ignition interlocks as an effective, tailored tool to keep drunk drivers off the highways. What’s your take on interlock technology?

The Los Angeles Times discovered an unexpected problem in supermarkets that can make it easy for underage drinkers to have access to alcohol: many large stores have self-checkout lanes that aren’t monitored, making it easier for sales of alcohol to go unnoticed. Staff writer Jerry Hirsch reported on an effort in the California legislature to tighten restrictions on self-checkout lanes so that all alcohol sales get routed through live cashiers. Read about the new bill here.

Did you catch the news from Florida this week about efforts to curb binge drinking at the annual Florida-Georgia college football game? David Hunt of the Florida Times-Union had the story over the weekend.

As always, leave us a link in the comments section if you found a newsworthy item.

One Response to “[CR] Week in Review”

  1. Edwin Says:

    The drinking age must be lowered to 18 along with an alcohol education program to instill alcohol responsibility among those aged 18-20. Matt Hoffman is correct that stronger penalties against “underage” drinking are wrong. William Farrell and James Wright are correct in that universities are a common environment for binge drinking and that the age of majority must be respected. Ignition interlock brakes are good for deterring drunken driving. I don’t support the California bill because technology will help.