cheersAt NYRA, we get emails. Many write to thank us for our work. Some write to share new ideas or to provide thoughtful feedback. And some write to scathe us for supporting the rights of youth.

I thought I’d share one we got recently. Bear in mind, none of the “facts” in this email have been verified. Under the subject heading “Is this a joke?” “Paul” writes as follows:

Why would we want to lower the drinking age? I’m 16 and this outright is asinine.My friend was killed in a car crash by a 17 year old drunk driver. Why would we lower the age just to have a bunch of immature drunks in our cities. If anything, they need to raise the drinking age. We can go to war at 18 so we can fight for our country. We don’t have an 18 year old drinking age so we can fill our cities with teen-drunks. This is ludicrous I thought our youth rights would fight for something a  little bit more reasonable.

This provokes several questions beyond just, “Does anyone really believe ‘Paul’ is 16?” The biggest question that comes to my mind is this: did this alleged death occur in a place where the drinking age is 17 or lower and where drunk driving is legal? Or is this just another example of the failure of our current laws?

Our ageist policies create a culture that encourages youth to engage in binge drinking and then leaves them few safe ways to get home. We’ve all heard the stories of taxi companies that offer free rides home on New Years Eve but refuse to offer such rides to those younger than 21 for fear of “sending the wrong message.” We all know of parents who cave in to peer pressure and forbid their children to drink, leading those youth to drink elsewhere and then fear calling their parents for a safe ride home.

Studies have shown that the drinking age causes more drunk driving deaths than it prevents. So “Paul,” if you really did lose a friend to a 17-year-old drunk driver, understand that both your friend and the drunk driver were victims of the policies NYRA works to change.



  1. I’ve emailed before, and I don’t really monitor this website regularly but I’d be willing to bet my email probably made its way to the “wacky emails of the week” page just like “Paul” over here. But introductions aside, I agree though with this whole point being asinine. Wait until you’re 21 to drink. I did it, you can do it too. The law itself is not hurting anyone, people failing to follow it are hurting people.

    Is the drinking age stopping teens from drinking? Those who are honest yes, and that’s really all the law can do anyway. The real issue I see with lowering the drinking age now is that it’s going to cause the line to blur a few years from now. “18? But I’m a big bad 15 year old, I can drive a vehicle but I can’t have a beer? That’s youth discrimination!” I mean drinking alcohol is damn sure not going to make you any better at driving a vehicle, but it won’t make you any better at joining the military and going to war either and that always gets thrown around as some strange justification to lowering the drinking age.

    Ultimately, the law itself isn’t broken. What’s broken is the mentality of America’s youth and those who wish to further encourage the idea that if you complain about something enough then it will change. That, contrary to popular belief, is not what democracy means. What America’s youth need to be taught is that following laws and having the discipline to do something every now and then you don’t agree with are inevitable parts of being an adult.

    Your ability to see the bigger picture and do what’s expected of you without having to be told is what makes you a mature adult, not how many alcoholic beverages you’ve already had before you’re even old enough to drink legally.

  2. Something else I want to point out that I’ve overlooked. I think a lot of the people on NYRA, it’s safe to say have probably had drinks before they were 21, and a high majority of citizens of the U.S. have probably been drinking as early as 13 or 14, roughly the age all those in favor of 18 are claiming a lot of kids begin drinking.

    There’s really no way to find this out 100% but I have a theory that 90% of America’s alcoholics have probably been drinking in some capacity since before the age of 15 and a good percentage of those people’s parents were probably trying to “expose them early and teach responsibility.” Like I said, I can’t prove that even though I would be willing to be it’s the case and the irony is one of the most popular suggestions on how to teach kids moderation is actually creating the very issue the drinking age of 21 was put in place to prevent.

    Just think about that for a minute.

  3. “So a teenager is dishonest if he stands up to a law he never agreed to obey in the first place? A law passed by lawmakers he never got a change to vote on? I guess you also think Susan B. Anthony was dishonest for voting illegally? And was Martin Luther King dishonest for leading an illegal boycott on the Montgomery Bus Company? Were America’s founders dishonest for committing treason against King George III?”

    Way to completely change the subject foxfire, you really showed me. Now, can we please get back to the topic of the drinking age in the U.S. and leave Civil Rights and the American Revolution out of it?

    I expected some flames with what I posted, I admit. It’s not the popular opinion to have, but before I go on please don’t get it twisted. I’m not here to bash the NYRA or say they’re wrong for standing for something. I’m not trying to say you’re wrong for having your own opinion either.

    What I am trying to say is very simple. This is a non-issue. The easiest way to resolve this issue, stop doing it. Nobody is being subject to mass genocide because of their religious belief, nobody is being told they can’t go to school or hold jobs that are reserved for white people, America isn’t a police state where free thought is outlawed. This Orwellian state everyone keeps saying is on the horizon is a load of crap. You just can’t drink until you’re 21 years old. Big deal.

    When it comes to youth rights, I can’t really speak for curfews, or voting, or any of that stuff because I’m 23 and on top of that I’ve been living overseas for the past three years. Back onto the subject of drinking ages world wide, it’s an argument of apples and oranges. In Norway where I currently live you can buy beer at 18, hard liquor at 21, and most clubs and bars won’t even let you in unless you’re 24. Pretty sure Sweden is the same way, Denmark and Finland I’m not so sure about.

    When I lived in Israel you could drink at pretty much any age but you couldn’t get into most places unless you were 24/ 25 years of age. In Germany you can buy beer at 16, hard liquor at 18 and they probably had just as many drunk idiots there as we have in the states. Czech Republic was kinda the same way, so was Austria, so was Hungary. Never drank when I was in Slovakia. In Haiti? You can see over the bar you can get alcohol.

    Does that encompass the drinking laws everywhere on Earth? No, but those are pretty broad drinking laws already, and then aside from that Americans can drink at 21. It’s not that crazy and it’s got nothing to do with treating the 21 under crowd like little kids, the other countries aren’t “beating us” or doing anything “better” than what we are.

    What I’m trying to say is there’s no life or death justification for lowering it. Unless the U.S. feels like dumping money we don’t have into a whole new approach to educating kids from the age of 12 to 18 about drinking in moderation as opposed to waiting until 21 then do not get your hopes up about this law ever changing. Honestly in ten years this argument still going on will probably annoy you like it does me.

  4. ““if you obey the law, then you won’t have a problem” argument, which is just another way for authorities to make people accept being oppressed”

    Again, explain to me how this qualifies as oppression. You do not need alcohol to survive.

    “The fact that the government can ship young people overseas to fight wars for a country that won’t even treat them as equals at home is a “strange justification” to you?”

    Nobody is treating anybody unequally. My fellow servicemen are citizens of the U.S. as well and they uphold themselves accordingly. And again keep telling me how we in the military are all “shipped overseas to fight wars” when I’ve been in 5 years and have not once set foot in Afghanistan or Iraq.

    So, you’re telling me just because I graduated boot camp I qualify for things other people my age don’t? I could fix computers at some stateside base for a four year enlistment but because I wear a uniform I automatically rate something other 18-20 year olds don’t? That is YOUR idea of equality?

    Or no wait, maybe you’re referring to 19 year old who not even a year before his first deployment was still in high school, and now he comes back from whatever combat zone with PTSD, you wanna send him to a bar. Someone emotionally vulnerable and liable to begin a dependency on alcohol and you wanna send them to drink their sorrows away. No you make perfect sense.

    Just out of curiosity how many service members do you know? What are their opinions on this? I’ve served with hundreds (and I’m not “pulling that number out of my ass”) and they all could care less what the drinking age is (yes it’s been talked about once or twice). So, why don’t you stop trying to speak for a demographic who may or may not even agree with you.

    “Yeah, enjoy your little fantasy where slavery is still legal, women cannot vote, and the Nazis successfully obliterated the Jews.”

    Please, please show me in my text where I said that I’m racist, sexist, or even anti-Semitic for that matter. The only thing I’m referring to is the drinking age, not the Holocaust, not civil rights, not slavery.

    I know nobody necessarily ASKED for it, but I tried to write a response and people either spit out some secondhand trash about “Going to war at 18 but you can’t drink” or they change the subject to some historical event that has nothing to do with anything I’ve said. Shoot, maybe in my next response I can bring up Boxer’s Rebellion or maybe even Gettysburg.

    So let me make this very clear, my point is not that we as a nation don’t need to stand up for what is right and fight against oppression, my point is that there are bigger issues out there that need attention.

    “Don’t just pull statistics out of your ass. It is a sad attempt, on your part, to blur the line between myth and reality.”

    Again, I clearly stated that is just my own theory based on all the alcoholics I’ve known in 23 years ( I may not have stated the based on people I’ve known part, my bad). I don’t know what drove them to alcoholism, so it makes me wonder how many of them could have started because their parents wanted to expose them to it early or teach them moderation. There’s this thing called reading comprehension I’m thinking you should probably look into.

    Actually you’re all probably going to benefit from that, maybe then you won’t take one thing I’m saying and make it into something completely different/ unrelated.

  5. “Alright, fine, but what constitutes a non-issue to you?”

    Alright, I can already tell we’re probably coming from two completely different backgrounds so I’ll try to explain where I’m coming from a little better so you can understand my take on this.

    I didn’t avoid drinking until I was 21 because I was afraid the big bad long arm of the law was going to get me if I did, I simply saw the law as just. I had a great time as a teenager and I did it sober. I just don’t believe for one second teens not having the same access to alcohol that people over 21 years old possess hinders them from enjoying their youth. 21 is still really young.

    I’ve been drunk my fair share in the past two years, it’s fun and you know what? You can get away with doing it underage, but it’s not so fun to the point that if johnny law catches you drunk or drinking underage THEY’RE the ones who are wrong because they ruined your good time for doing their jobs.

    Now with that being said, I in no way support turning a minor who is intoxicated away from medical treatment, or the rape victim who is charged for drinking and then their case is thrown out because they were so intoxicated they could have consented (Yes that does happen, I know people in SVU). I also agree that what happens in someone’s house is their business, if they want to serve a teen wine with dinner then don’t let the kid leave the house intoxicated. Nothing wrong with that.

    We’ll get to drinking and driving in a second here, but right now if it’s not a blatant public violation of the 21 years old to drink law, then who realy is to say it’s an issue? The key reason parents would be against this (can’t teach their kids responsibility, in the old country we drank at 12, etc.) they don’t even have to fear if they just don’t make it public and don’t be stupid about it. That’s what I mean by this law is a non-issue for the honest people.

    Brining a load of minors into your house and serving them alcohol? Come on, that is a blatant disregard for authority, that is not a “tactful” argument towards lowering the drinking age or some responsible decision you’re making to provide the teens with a “good safe time” that’s an example of kids and parent’s basically saying “f*ck the police.”

    Kids and alcohol what do you think that will lead to? Even if you take their keys, is it safe to assume they may make some noise, may alert the neighbors, and then that may give somebody reason to call the police? It’s a public disturbance that’s now exposing drunk minors which is against the law would you agree?

    And back to the “wine with dinner” thing for a second, and this response is geared towards something wedway said. So, I’m just going to assume for a second (correct me if I’m wrong) that you support lowering the drinking age to 18. I can’t help but notice the way you worded the “parents allowed their teenage son a little wine at dinner” did not specify an age of the son.

    Now, you’ll probably say you meant 18, but I think you meant younger probably in the 15 to 17 neighborhood. Is that not an example of “low hanging fruit?” I was sort of trolling before when I said the whole, next they’ll be trying to drop the drinking age to 15 thing, but you just without realizing it said to me that lowering the drinking age to 18 will introduce an even younger audience to drinking. Tell me, with the ideology of “what happens in your own home stays in your own home” what stops parents from doing that now?

    With underage drinking and driving, I’ll have to read up on the legislature because I really don’t see how the drinking age relates to the fact it’s incredibly unwise to get behind the wheel of a vehicle when you’ve been drinking. Over 21 or under you should not do that and you deserve whatever you get be it death or jail time or someone’s death on your conscience.

    “Wow, you really still think this is about alcohol”

    Well we’re having a conversation about drinking underage, and we’re certainly not talking about drinking Pepsi so yeah I kind of think this is about alcohol.

    “I never said that everyone in the military is shipped off, do not shove words in my mouth.”

    You said “The fact that the government can ship young people overseas to fight wars.” Ok so you didn’t say EVERYBODY but I’m not entirely shoving anything anywhere

    “You’re thinking under the assumption that a young soldier would be completely incapable of using alcohol without abusing it.”

    Hahahah, ok nevermind I’ll ignore this one.

    “Yeah, enjoy your little fantasy where slavery is still legal, women cannot vote, and the Nazis successfully obliterated the Jews.”

    Sorry wedway I guess that isn’t you I just quoted there. You didn’t say it outright but if it looks like Spock and sounds like Spock it’s probably Leonard Nimoy wouldn’t you say?

    “Then you go fight those issues and stop wasting your time here if you think so little of them. Hurry along now, you’re wasting precious time when you could be helping to find Kony!”

    I’m going to assume the Kony thing is a joke…

    “So you didn’t pull statistics out of your ass, you just, err, pulled statistics out of your ass. You made up statistics. That’s what you did. It doesn’t matter your reasoning behind doing it! And they were incredibly incorrect and ignorant statistics, I might add.”

    But I didn’t try to pass them off as fact, and I’d love to see some proof that says they’re “incredibly incorrect and ignorant.” I did make them up but for all either of us really know they could be close to the truth.

    “There is a large difference between misunderstanding your claims and just flat out disagreeing with them. But you seem to think that your arguments are so logical that we couldn’t possibly disagree with them without there being some form of miscommunication or another, hmm? What you perceive as unrelated on my part, I perceive as sheer ignorance to the issues on your part.”

    Maybe I am the crazy one who believes teens are just being crybabies because big bad adults aren’t letting them get drunk on the weekends but at the end of the day this law isn’t going anywhere. So the advice you just gave me about fighting the good fight I return the same to you.

  6. Well, the reason I’m on this thread and I swear I’ll go away and leave you with your brilliant facts (by facts I mean your opinion that something not broken is broken) when I say this is because I somehow stumbled upon a youtube video of some cunt bag who was reading the name of service members killed in Iraq and using their names like they were martyrs for this cause. “Maybe we should tell XXX service member’s family we’re sorry but their son died for a country who didn’t even respect them enough to let them drink.”

    My intention was to come on the website, find said cunt bag’s email address, and kindly send an email asking them to put a lid on it because I’m offended by somebody slandering the names of people who died for their freedoms.

    And you’re in fact wrong in me saying I don’t support the rights of America’s youth. I simply don’t agree the drinking age should be lowered. Pretty simple actually. I don’t support curfews or any of that stupidity and I don’t think the right for 18 year olds to vote should be taken away.

    Anyway, I’m out. Peace.

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