The Corner


Over at Reason , Jacob Sullum is, as usual, fighting the good fight against the encroachments of the nanny state. This time the subject is advertising by the liquor industry. The FTC has just exonerated the drinks industry from the charge that it is deliberately targeting underage drinkers with its campaigns for alcopops. Needless to say this is unlikely to be enough for the hair shirt Neanderthals of the Center for ‘Science’ in the Public interest, who, it turns out, have an ‘alcohol policies project’. Oh dear.

Well, anyway, the director of this project, one George Hacker, is, concerned that

“it’s impossible to construct an advertisement that appeals to a 21-year-old, on his 21st birthday, and doesn’t appeal to someone who’s 18 years old or maybe even 16.” As Sullum notes, he’s quite right. That’s why it is unreasonable to expect the drinks industry to have to target commercials in such a way that they cannot possibly appeal to any potentially tipsy teenager. This doesn’t seem to worry the National Academy of Sciences, which seems ready to envisage coercing the industry to try and do just that.

Yet again, it seems that the freedoms of adults are to come under attack in the supposed interests of ‘the children’. Not that this campaign is actually in their interest. The problem with drinking is in the excess. Moderate drinking is a pleasure, a social facilitator and it may be even good for you. It is also something that it is best taught to people relatively early in life. The alternative, barring – and thus fetishizing – alcohol from individuals deemed old enough to be able to vote, be executed or serve in Iraq is insulting and, by the way, almost guaranteed to encourage irresponsible drinking.

Quite why Elizabeth Dole wanted to increase the legal drinking age to 21 is beyond me. Suffice to say that it was the crowning ‘achievement’ of a career notable only for its singular uselessness.

The age of Budweiser consent should be cut to 17 forthwith.


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