60 Minutes: Drinking Age

I’m still new to the news. If I was an inconsistent reader of the newspaper, and thus new to things like the coverage of political speeches, it has nothing on my alienation from TV news. No one watches the news in my house, we only read it. So it was sort of weird to sit through a news broadcast. I’m used to the cinematic nature of documentaries, TV shows and other kinds of movies; not the everything-in-focus camerawork of the news. It’s rude to tar everyone in TV news with the same brush, but it’s never been held in high regard in my house.

It was interesting to see how 60 minutes spliced the interviews together. They would cut from one side to the other, as they were orchestrating a debate, rather than conducting two separate interviews. I was also impressed by the reserve demonstrated. We spent all our time in class talking about the emotionalism of TV news, and while each side was represented with strong emotional language by the people involved the interviewer appeared completely even handed.

I was confused by the fact that no one mentioned the drinking laws of other countries. Both sides could use evidence from the behavior of minors in Europe and elsewhere to support their points. (In England and France, binge drinking is increasingly becoming a problem among the youth. However, equally, there are fewer car accidents due to the proliferation of public transport available to people in those countries.)

Barrington, a suburb of Providence, RI, where I grew up, has a huge underage drinking problem. It came to a head some years ago when a young man killed his best friend because they had been drinking out on a motorboat, his friend fell overboard and he ran him over with the motor by accident. Since then all sorts of discussions and different abstinence/discouragement programs have been instated (I distinctly remember the trip to the Adult Correctional Institution). One of the things I remember coming away from one of these lectures with was, however, the point a father who had lost his son to a drunk driver made about the general drinking culture we live in. He described how many of the parents of the children in this suburb, who get in trouble for drinking and driving, are themselves irresponsible drinkers. They will go to a party, have a little too much to drink, and then drive themselves home.

In the discussion of underage drinking, it seems remiss not to open the conversation up to a wider question: are any responsible drinking behaviors being modeled for them to aspire to?

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