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Lower Drinking Age

By jmartino Mar 24, 2009 1850 Words
Jason Martino
Composition 1101/C28
Sept. 27, 2008
Professor Beard
Choose Responsibility
Lowering the drinking age to eighteen, mistake or a way to stop larger problems? I have found a website that, if you are for lowering the drinking, will clear a lot of these kinds of questions up. Choose Responsibility is a non-profit organization founded by President Emeritus John M. McCardell Jr. of Middlebury College, when McCardell was approached by the Robertson Foundation, a foundation interested in investigating the consequences of the 21 year-old drinking age. The Effects of the 21 Year-Old Drinking Age: A White Paper was completed in September 2006 after more than a year of writing and research by McCardell and a team of assistants. Upon the report’s positive review, McCardell received additional funds to start Choose Responsibility. Choose Responsibility is a great site to seek out all those answers that you are longing for to be answered about the Amethyst Initiative. The Amethyst Initiative supports informed and unimpeded debate on the 21 year-old drinking age.

The website is dedicated to educating teenagers about the dangers of binge drinking in today’s youth in America. “The mission of Choose Responsibility, Inc. is to promote general public awareness of the dangers of excessive and reckless alcohol consumption by young adults through a program of research, publication, education, and related activities seeking to engage young people, their parents, and public officials in serious deliberation on the role of alcohol in American culture.” Choose Responsibility. 9/27/08 . The website isn’t just dedicated to the lowering of the drinking age but they are very passionate about educating teenagers and teaching them to “choose responsibly.” The website lists many different alcohol awareness classes and states the purpose of those classes, and what age group those classes are designed for. Choose Responsibility gives their own opinion on alcohol education classes on a whole, “Alcohol education has taken many forms over the years. For the most part, alcohol education programs have addressed the problems connected with excessive consumption, and thus have focused largely on telling everyone from middle school students to college students to convicted drunk drivers that they should not drink. In some cases that can be very appropriate, but often this overlooks the reality that many people will consume alcohol at some point.” Choose Responsibility. 9/27/08 .

Choose Responsibility states many specific things that all persons in the United States of the age of eighteen to twenty are “mature” enough to be, by law, allowed to do. They state that if at eighteen, by law, one is mature enough to put ones life on the line, fighting for our country, killing others for our nation either it be by choice or drafted to the war, then why can’t that same person purchase or consume alcoholic beverages. The law states that you are “mature” enough to open a bank account in your name, go into debt, have the responsibility to own and use a credit card, own property, sue or be sued, why is it that legally we are not “mature” enough to be given the right to drink alcohol. Purchasing firearms is an extremely hazardous sale to an eighteen year old, but at eighteen you are “mature” enough to purchase a rifle, but not a pistol, both are as equally dangerous. Firearms are more deadly than an alcoholic beverage, but we are “mature” enough to purchase one at the age of eighteen. If at eighteen years of age one is mature enough to marry, be a legal guardian, and adopt children, then why can’t the drinking age be lowered to eighteen and give us the ability to drink. I didn’t even know that at the age of eighteen you can adopt a child. But adopting a child makes you an adult does it not? These are some of the examples given by the website Choose Responsibility. After reading these I was shocked at most of these statements because with these decisions comes great responsibility and with some, like adopting a child, owning property, purchasing and owning a firearm, and using firearms in war, and a strong sense of maturity. Of course there are educational programs that you must take in order to fulfill some of these responsibilities but think about what John M. McCardell Jr. said. If the state makes it mandatory for all persons of eighteen, if the drinking age was lowered, to pass an alcoholic education program that would educate eighteen year olds of responsible drinking and less excessive drinking. An educational program like the one that is discussed on the Choose Responsibility website would educate teenagers on how to be a “mature” and responsible drinker. Also having an educational program educating teenagers on a subject as this one would make teenagers feel like they can be trusted as young adults. “If developed and implemented correctly, a mandatory alcohol education course would present new drinkers with a successful model for responsible and moderate behavior. By avoiding the pitfalls encountered by previous alcohol education programs—especially those that stress complete abstinence, the costs incurred as a result of alcohol-related crime and accidents, or the negative and addictive qualities of alcohol—such a program could define and model responsible use. Instead of highlighting the negative consequences of consumption and stigmatizing any and all alcohol use, an effective program would provide guidelines for healthy ways to consume alcohol, discourage drinking to the point of intoxication, and clearly outline both the negative and positive social and personal effects of drinking. The program would also be accompanied by a clear presentation of drinking laws and penalties for their violation. Provided to all newly enfranchised drinkers, the course information would present a viable, socially acceptable alternative to binge and goal-oriented drinking—the two activities that lead most often to auto accidents, crime, and overdose. Above and beyond the content of the course, the effectiveness of an alcohol education program is contingent upon treating its subjects as adults. The existence of such a course would serve as acknowledgement of the fact that those over 18 can make healthy, informed decisions when armed with the right information. For many adolescents, alcohol is a vehicle for social rebellion, its abuse a function of asserting one’s independence from infantilizing social policies. An alcohol education course would help normalize society’s treatment of alcohol and its users.” Choose Responsibility. 9/27/08 http:// www.chooseresponsibility.org/ frequently_asked_questions/#alceducation

The overall theme that the website is portraying is maturity, balance and common sense. There theme is displayed all throughout their website in colors, pictures, vocabulary, and facts. The colors that Choose Responsibility has on their website are plain and neutral, which catches your attention but doesn’t distract you. The colors they use and the color scheme are put together such that someone would look at them and think someone mature created the website. I know that is a very bold comment but if you think about it, if you walked into a teenager’s room and see bright colors and a lot of accessories on the walls like posters and such, compared to a room with neutral colors and not so much on the walls you would think that room number two would belong to a more mature person, or in this case teenager. The fact that Choose Responsibility chooses these colors made me think that this website is a reliable source which is persuaded me to look at the website more in-depth. The Pictures portrayed on the website are a very good visual on what the website is trying to portray. The home page of the website has a slideshow of many pictures, one of them being a picture of two of-age people sitting down at a bar and casually drinking a beer. This picture shows how drinking in a social and supervised place will help lower the percent of teenagers’ wanting to binge drink in unsupervised places and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Another picture of a young soldier holding an M-16 assault rifle in full combat gear gives an example of being able to fight for your country but not being held responsible with drinking alcohol. The picture of a young female in a wedding dress holding a bokay of flowers walking up to the altar shows that at such a young age teenagers can wed but cannot purchase or drink alcohol. The vocabulary and grammar used on the website is of a mature manner. The use of a mature vocabulary symbolizes a mature author and only to be read by a mature audience. It isn’t written at a scholarly level and most certainly not at a sixth grade level. The authors of the website “Choose Responsibility” use many appeals to pathos in their arguments. On their website there is a link that says “frequently asked questions” this link lists many questions that have been sent from all over the country. The authors appeal to pathos by making us, the readers, think about what we want and what is going to have to change for that to happen. If the drinking age is lowered the state will stop highway funding. The main tactic of argument that was used by the authors was logos. The facts that the authors put on their website offers good reasons to support their claim. The author was using ethos when writing material on the website. It is though the author was respecting us as adults knowing that we can acquire knowledge without having it spelled out to us in a sixth grade level of writing. John M. McCardell appealed to ethos more than once on the website. He is trustworthy because his claims have shown up on the news in debates. He is known nationally and will be on sixty seconds this fall. Ethos refers to the credibility of a speaker or writer. We tend to believe people we trust. We also believe people who have our best interests in mind. I trust the authors and creators of this website; I was recently contacted by the Choose Responsibility Inc. I signed up to volunteer, and Nick DeSantis, the staff assistant, sent me a packet of brochures, bumper stickers, and pens, to distribute to family, friends, and colleagues. They also sent me a point-by-point debate of some of the important questions about lowering the drinking age. This debate has both sides so that I can get educated from both points of view. This was a great example of ethos. Before discovering the website Choose Responsibility I didn’t know that there are so many things that I can legally do, almost everything except drink alcohol. Choose Responsibility has a great website full of detailed facts and answers, which has helped me come to the conclusion that there is no reason why the legal drinking age should be eighteen.

Choose Responsibility. 9/27/08 http://www.chooseresponsibility.org/mission/

Choose Responsibility. 9/27/08 http://www.chooseresponsibility.org/alcohol_education/

Choose Responsibility. 9/27/08 http://www.chooseresponsibility.org/frequently_asked_questions/ alceducation

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