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How Old Should You Have to Be to Buy Alcohol?

Today in Time Camille Paglia makes the case for abolishing the age 21 cut-off.

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April 23, 2014 - 2:00 pm

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From the author of Sexual Personae and Glittering Images:

Learning how to drink responsibly is a basic lesson in growing up — as it is in wine-drinking France or in Germany, with its family-oriented beer gardens and festivals. Wine was built into my own Italian-American upbringing, where children were given sips of my grandfather’s home-made wine. This civilized practice descends from antiquity. Beer was a nourishing food in Egypt and Mesopotamia, and wine was identified with the life force in Greece and Rome: In vino veritas (in wine, truth). Wine as a sacred symbol of unity and regeneration remains in the Christian Communion service. Virginia Woolf wrote that wine with a fine meal lights a “subtle and subterranean glow, which is the rich yellow flame of rational intercourse.”

What this cruel 1984 law did is deprive young people of safe spaces where they could happily drink cheap beer, socialize, chat, and flirt in a free but controlled public environment. Hence in the 1980s we immediately got the scourge of crude binge drinking at campus fraternity keg parties, cut off from the adult world. Women in that boorish free-for-all were suddenly fighting off date rape. Club drugs — Ecstasy, methamphetamine, ketamine (a veterinary tranquilizer) — surged at raves for teenagers and on the gay male circuit scene.

Alcohol relaxes, facilitates interaction, inspires ideas, and promotes humor and hilarity.

Read the whole thing.

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image via shutterstock /  Pressmaster

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Comments are closed.

All Comments   (10)
All Comments   (10)
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Old enough to be able to push your money across the bar.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Teach them to drink responsibly. 16 for drinking with parents, certainly at home, possibly in a restaurant, 18 for the rest.

Can you imagine prohibiting Drivers Ed until AFTER they had their license?
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you can vote at 18 or join the Army and get shot at, then the age should be 18.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Like Camille Paglia, I too sipped my Italian grandfather's homemade wine at a very young age. He watered it down and added suger but I still snubbed it. Perhaps because of this natural, familial, introduction to an alcoholic beverage, it never loomed before me as the Holy Grail of Hipness as it seems to do with many of today's youth.

Clearly the path chosen by our legislators has not led to serenity and should likely be reconsidered.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've argued for years that the age for drinking should be lowered to 16.

And the age for Driving RAISED TO 21!!
A great deal of tragedy could be then be avoided.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
My son turned 18 this month. We racked our brains for a fun thing he could do to celebrate...buy cigarettes and throw them out...buy spray paint...buy a lottery ticket. He didn't end up doing any of them. His first "adult" act? Signing a HIPPA agreement at the Doctor. Welcome to adulthood in America, son!
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Don't forget register for Selective Service. :) Another fun way to celebrate.

One reason to relax alcohol laws is to have kids start drinking when parents are more likely to be around (like at dinner). When young people turn 21, they are in college and away from parents/family so there isn't a many social checks on drinking. Drinking buddies are far less likely to say "you've had enough" than parents or siblings.

My parents allowed me to try beer and wine (and have it on vacation to countries with lower age limits like Germany) so in college there was never an appeal to binge drink until I passed out.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
When I was 18 in Kansas it was legal to buy fairly weak roughly 4% ABV beer, but you had to be 21 to buy liquor. It takes some effort interrupted by restroom breaks to get drunk with weak beer. Some bars allowed 18 yo customers and others were 21 and up. With this two-step system I don't recall anyone getting falling down drunk on either their 18th or 21st birthday.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
The age should be reduced to 16, so my kids can run to the store to buy me a 6 pack along with the other groceries they can already purchase for me.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Practical!
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
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