20 August 2008

Debate? Have at it!

Six college presidents in Maryland are among more than 100 college and university presidents nationwide who have signed a statement calling for a public debate on rethinking the drinking age.

Naturally, the subject has gotten a lot of media attention in the past two days, burning up talk radio and online forums.

I say that rational debate and discussion is welcome and long overdue.

Unfortunately, we're guaranteed not to get rational debate.

Discussions on this topic inevitably descend into the emotional: on one hand, the MADD crowd insisting any change would bring carnage and "if it saves just one life it's worth it," while opponents of the 21 age can trot out reams of examples of things an 18-year-old can legally do besides drink a beer--more rational than "won't someone think of the children?", but not by much. And both sides of the discussion can pull out untold numbers of studies supposedly reinforcing their talking points (as long as one doesn't attempt truly critical analysis of the data, natch), with the seemingly inevitable shouting match following shortly.

I had to shake my head at the MADD-type that accused a university representative (U of Md.-College Park?) on WBAL-AM yesterday as being driven by financial incentives--i.e. the university stood to gain financially from on-campus alcohol sales.

Looking at Lew Bryson's excellent blog, especially his posts on this very subject, reveal that this movement is hardly new, just gaining some publicity.


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