Friday, March 28, 2008

Daily D: VT Should Protect Dartmouth Students From Themselves

Verbum Ultimum is a real winner today. The Daily Dartmouth's Editorial Board argues that because Dartmouth students are prone to drunk driving, the state of Vermont shouldn't change its drinking age. Nice. Then, at the end, they throw in this little tid-bit:

Putting aside the disastrous consequences the new law would have for Hanover, unilaterally lowering the drinking age in any single state is a decidedly bad idea. At present, American society is not adequately equipped to deal with the repercussions of making alcohol readily available to high school students. While many proponents of lowering the drinking age point to Europe as an example of success, they fail to consider the deep cultural differences that make teenage access to alcohol incredibly more problematic in the United States. Namely, American teens are less interested in having a glass of red wine to match their dinner than shotgunning cheap beer in their parents’ basements.

I wonder why that is? Is it possible that, in the states, drinking for drunkenness' sake has anything to do with the illicit nature of alcohol? No, of course not. According to the Daily D's brilliant analysis, the people most able to teach teenagers about responsible drinking are not their parents, but rather their post-21-years-old friends.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The name of the newspaper you're quoting is The Dartmouth; no "Daily".

Anonymous said...

"The Dartmouth, founded in 1799, is the student newspaper at Dartmouth College and the campus’s only daily."

Anonymous said...

They've always called them that. It must be some sort of inside joke.

Anonymous said...

Whenever the "D" editorial board takes positions on policy issues that go beyond Dartmouth, it usually comes across as a joke. The only differences between that group and the average person on the street are: (1) more pretension, (2) weaker writing skills, and (3) a platform for their opinions.

The V.U. piece is one of the shallower analyses I've seen of this sort of issue. They might ultimately be right, but after reading a piece like that, I'm more sympathetic to the Vermont legislature's proposal.

They're correct to point out that whenever any state changes its alcohol rules, it results in traffic across the border from people who want to take advantage of the different rule. But that only goes so far. If there is lots of drunk traffic between Norwich and Hanover, the police would probably react to it, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a DUI checkpoint at the Ledyard Bridge. There are a lot of subtler differences between state drinking laws already (taxes, closing hours at bars, whether alcohol can be sold on Sundays, whether it can be sold in grocery stores), and the country hasn't collapsed.

Also, they point to "the deep cultural differences" between Europe and the United States (by which the D editors apparently mean a stereotype), but a better example would probably be Vermont's northern border. The drinking age in Quebec is 18, and it's 19 in Ontario (I know that VT borders PQ but not ON). Many of my Canadian friends are exceptionally classy and well able to restrain themselves when it comes to alcohol, but I think that at least some of them would dispute the fluff that passes for reasoning in the D's editorial.