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Friday, January 16, 2004
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Students should embrace their inner advocate

COMMENTARY
Brian Chatman


Has anyone noticed that high school and college-aged people get stuck with all the blame? We are expected to handle all the social ills past generations have created whilst receiving the blame for them as well. Our parents saw this and revolted. They fought for civil rights, got the voting and drinking ages lowered to 18, and promoted equality. What happened? Well the boomers got older, and had children. They became afraid of their children acting as they did. They don’t remember what was accomplished when thinking about their kids. They just remember their indiscretions, and will destroy their work to stop us from making their mistakes.

Many of all ages believe that alcohol consumption is wrong. There are many reasons, but personally I don’t see the point in losing control of your senses. Unlike many with this belief, I do not feel that my decision should have weight with anyone else. It is the American way to choose the life we feel is right. If government makes those decisions for us, then the flag is still waving, but the principles behind it are gone.

If an adult wants to drink, they are perfectly capable of making that choice and facing the consequences. They can enter into a contract, they can go to war, and they can vote. So why are there laws that stop a certain group of adults (those 18-21) from drinking? MADD says it stops drunk driving. Would you put out roach bait to stop a rat problem? Of course you wouldn’t. Sure it kills some rats, but that isn’t its real purpose. Why would you raise the drinking age to stop drunk driving? Are all of the drunk drivers under the age of 21? Most stories I hear are about inebriated motorists over 21. So what is the real purpose of the drinking age? It seems to me that it is the good old temperance movement with a new mask, but who could say no to a bunch of grieving mothers?

Drinking laws, as they exist now, are unconstitutional. The equal protection clause of the 14th amendment ensures laws must be applied equally to all citizens. To deny a group of legal adults from consuming alcohol violates equal protection. It also violates U.S. policies prohibiting age discrimination. Many say that it is up to the states, but the 10th amendment reserves rights for the people as well, and even if it didn’t, the Ninth amendment prohibits the use of one amendment to violate rights guaranteed by another.

So what should we do? Well right now, those in the great halls of power hear nothing but a deafening silence from the youth of this country. Our generation is just as rebellious as our parents. We have music that scares them, and statistically, the great majority of us still drink. So I say breathe on the embers of the fire that went out so long ago. Let’s protest, petition, and campaign for the rights of youth. The boomers keep saying that we are the future, so let’s build a better, less hypocritical world. After all, if we are going to have to pay for their Social Security, we better have fun now. But above all, we must succeed where they failed, and make sure our progeny won’t have to fight the same battles 20 years from now.

Brian Chatman is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Fort Worth.