The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Monday, June 13, 2005

when are we going to grow up?

Many moons ago now, back in November last year, I blogged about the (stupid) idea of raising the drinking age back up to 20.

My view hasn't changed - there is nothing wrong with the age, in fact it is one of the few things we probably have right about our drinking culture. If you're old enough to decide who you would like to govern then you are certainly old enough to drink.

What frustrates me is Matt Robson's involvement in all of this. It is a calculated move by the Progressives to appeal to the Grumpy Vote, which the Alliance used to get quite a share of, back in the day. JPA has always been good at garnering these voters, but he's always had to arm-wrestle with Winston for them, and 2005 is no exception. Matt Robson has become more and more like a mini-Jim since 2001, when he put his Ministerial warrant before his beliefs. His commitment to Zaoui keeps him human. (That probably sounds unusually harsh for me, but I have withstood the blaze of Robson's righteousness and I don't have much time for him now that he's well and truly sold out on the drinking age issue.)

Let's start talking turkey about our drinking problems. They are not caused by the drinking age, they are caused by a culture that doesn't educate young people about alcohol, where bad role models abound (in particular parents and sportspeople), and the only people who are apparently responsible for all of this are our youth.

We need to look at the way drinking is advertised (which I am glad the bill is addressing) - not just the overt ads, but also the covert. I'm going to throw it out there, although it won't be popular - why do we still led the Beer Barons sponsor our sports teams when we kicked out the Tobacco Tyrants long ago? (Don't even start me on gambling sponsorship).

It's time to grow up and start looking at ourselves, not blaming the convenient scapegoat all the time.


Lucyna said...

It must have something to do with culture. I grew up being given small amounts of alcohol as a child, and didn't even enjoy drinking until after the age of 25. Beforehand I just wasn't interested, drink had already been "demystefied" and didn't taste that good. I also wonder if being one with peers adds to it. Peer pressure never had much impact on me when I was young.

suze said...

I think it is related to culture. I'm similar to Lucyna in that I was allowed small amounts of alcohol as a child, I wasn't influenced by peers, and I didn't really like alcohol until much later.

span said...

i had a similar experience too, although i still don't like alcohol and have never really drunk much. but my parents did offer me small amounts of wine as a kid (anyone remember those sets of glasses you could get at one of the supermarkets with stamps at one point, there were three sizes, big, medium and baby? they used to give me one of the baby ones full of wine when they had a dinner party and everyone would laugh when i screwed my nose up at the smell!).

i did face a lot of peer pressure though - i used to have "friends" who would, and this is true, spike my drinks, or stand in front of me with a beer saying "please have just a sip, for me, just a sip" for ten minutes at a time. it was pathetic.

but my parents were very good role models, Dad in particular didn't drink until he was of age (21 in those days) and i always held to that as a goal, and by the time i was about 19 i had a new group of friends who didn't care whether i drank or not, and i've never looked back.

i had the advantage, in many ways, of seeing my friends act like complete arses when they were drunk and i was sober - i patted their backs when they threw up, checked that they really wanted to leave with that guy before they left (which made me unpopular at times), policed the drinking games so that the guy who was always changing the rules (to try to get one of the chicks blotto so that he could do what he wanted with her) couldn't get away with it. a real killjoy i know, but it meant i saw the ugly side of drinking in my mid teens and never saw it as all that glamourous.

so how do we spread a more positive drinking culture?

suze said...

In some ways I regret not doing the stupid peer pressured binge drinking thing when I was a teenager.

How do you define a more positive drinking culture? Changing a culture sounds difficult.

I am completely out of touch with teenage drinking and as a result I don't know what the problem is exactly.

Lucyna said...

I think it's bigger than changing the teenage drinking culture - it's the teenage culture itself that probably leads to massive binge drinking. It's like there's no sense of responsibility. It's probably connected to artificially increasing the age of childhood. A couple of centuries ago, a fourteen year old was an adult, for example.

span said...

i used to regret that i didn't do the teen binge thing because it meant i was much more inhibited, being sober, and i didn't snog particular guys i was keen on. but now i'm actually glad i didn't as i find the very thought of them quite repellent.

lucyna, i agree, it is much bigger than just the teen drinking culture. bingeing is in no way restricted to the young, it's just they do it more cost effectively ;-)

stephenbrash said...

Have a look at National Drug Foundation and Alcohol HealthWatch websites - also Ministry of Health.
The incredible thing isn't that Matt Robson is pursuing this, it is that Sue Kedgley and six other Greens opposed his Bill.