If You’re Old Enough to Fight a War, are You Old Enough to Drink Booze?

So at my former boss’ and friend’s blog, he does this meme thing called the Four for Friday. It is the thing I look forward to the most, second only to the fact that Friday also means the weekend is upon us.

Anyway, question #3 from last Friday asked what we thought of lowering the drinking age to 18. Respondents seemed split down the middle about whether they were okay with it or not. Here’s a summary of my answer:

I don’t think it matters much what the drinking age is. An 18 year old irresponsible punk is likely to “grow up” to be a 21 year old irresponsible punk. Unless we can show that statistics for drunk-driving accidents and deaths went down post 1984, then I don’t see any reason not to lower the drinking age… except to say all those 21 year olds in nudie bars are gonna have to start putting up with a bunch of high school students joining them.

Anyway, a popular argument for lowering the drinking age is, “If they’re old enough to fight a war…”

I just wanted to publicly state, right here on my incredibly popular blog that strongly influences many of the world’s most powerful people (pay attention Free Mason lodge leaders… I’m talking about you! Oh yeah, and you too Pres. Bush!), I think the “old enough to fight a war” argument is weak. Here is my reasoning.

I can no longer do military service because of a physical disability. Since I’m not expected to fight a war, does that mean I also shouldn’t be allowed to drink? Or are we saying that only military personnel should be allowed to drink?

You can actually enlist at 17 these days (which is a far cry from the days when 14 year olds were allowed to fight). When I was in boot (1994), there were at least two 17-year olds in my platoon. My own brother enlisted when he was 17 (around 1986). He did boot over summer vacation and returned to finish off his senior year of high school. Think back to those days. Those people you knew. Still okay to let them drink at that time?

But consider this most of all. When you turn 18, you aren’t just shipped off to a war and expected to fight. You are given formal, highly intense, strongly disciplined training to prepare you to go fight that war. The training, in part, prevents you from pissing yourself and running off like a cowardly dog when the bullets start to fly and you see your buddy’s head get splattered all over your lap.

Now, if you are saying 18-year olds should receive intense formal training on how to “drink responsibly” — so you don’t piss yourself and hump your buddy’s dog on his lap when you get a little too hosed — well then, the argument makes a little more sense.

So even though I’m okay with lowering the age limit, let’s at least be sensible with our arguments shall we? Since you can join the military at 17 and be issued a fully automatic weapon without requiring that you hold a federal license, should we go ahead and make it legal for everybody age 17 and older to own fully automatic weapons? They allow that in much of the Middle East and many war-torn African nations. Umm… no. Let’s not do that.

6 thoughts on “If You’re Old Enough to Fight a War, are You Old Enough to Drink Booze?

  1. Stu

    I just remembered something. Admiral David Farragut (who is probably best known for the quote, “Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!”) joined the U.S. Navy as a midshipman at the ripe ol’ age of 12. He was later given a command aboard the USS Essex… while still 12 years old. So 14, nothing! If you were lucky, you got to command a ship of your own before you even hit the teen years.

    Now, just imagine being a sailor under the command of a drunken 12 year old :)

  2. Bryan Livingston

    I happen to think that turning children into cold blooded killing machines is a crime. It’s only legal because it serves the state.

    The “if your old enough” argument is trying to use one crime to justify another.

  3. Stu

    I agree with you Bryan, that turning kids into cold-blooded killers is a serious crime. And I look to many African nations where thugs are in control and “recruit” for their armies by kidnapping children and forcing them to fight as an example of such.

    But in America, coming from someone who has been through some military training, we train people to respect the enemy… at least in 1994 we did. Or I should say, one of my very wise drill instructors taught me to. On the other hand, we are trained to kill on orders without question, so I guess that could be considered cold blooded.

    As to Ben Franklin, Heather, the closest he ever got to military service was helping to organize a couple militias — which he never actually was a part of himself. Franklin’s strength was in diplomacy, which he used to great effect.

  4. Stu

    Thanks for the comments Adam! You know, I read an article just today that argued for and against the legalization of all drugs, as well as pondered the effect of legalizing marijuana. It was interesting.

    I feel about marijuana about the same as I feel about booze. I don’t much care whether they legalize it or not. However, it would certainly be a boon to the government as you noted it could be taxed, not to mention all the jobs it would create from all the marijuana shops that would open up.

    Plus, I’ve played poker at a table where nearly everybody was high on pot (and some of them drunk on top of it). Despite not getting any cards the entire night, I came in second, losing to the one other guy that wasn’t high. Just one other way to make money on pot :)

  5. Adam

    alcohol should be illegal, nevermind lowering the drinking age.
    and if alcohol is legal, then marijuana should be legal. Then you could tax it.


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