You gotta get on my level before we get things started. Roughly this time last year I wrote one of my shortest Shame Days [feature to reappear in good time, never fear] ever, the gist of it being that tossing your cigarette butts on the ground is unconscionable. Those who perpetrate the act themselves stick to the defence that “doing otherwise is inconvenient” and if you don’t think that’s the pettiest, shallowest, most irresponsible front then you should probably stop reading this now.
No, I don’t have patience for any of that, or the myriad of other excuses that smokers tend to put up-
I do love a good story of an individual sticking it to “the system”, i.e. the reign of capitalism. But having grown up in British Columbia’s Shuswap region, land of rich earthy gardens and succulent fruit (getting hungry?), I was shocked to discover that in some areas that act of rebellion can be as simple as growing a garden.It’s illegal.
EVAN: Alright, people of the internet, it’s time to stop correcting each other’s grammar in YouTube comments sections and start tuning in to the wisdom we’re about to drop out of our mouth-holes/fingertips.
On this installment of E> we will be discussing the ever-popular C2H5OH, more commonly known as alcohol, and how it’s treated in Western culture.
GORDON: Now right here we’re running up against a problem: “Western” culture isn’t exactly united on the subject of drinking. I mean, for the most part we’re fans, but there ARE some pretty distinct differences. For example, a severe alcoholic in Canada or America would in Europe be simply known as an Englishman.
EVAN: You make a very astute point, so I’m going to propose we boil this down to how North America [barring Mexico, sorry (though to be fair they should be used to this by now)] treats alcohol.
GORDON: Poor Mexico.
But let’s get right down to it and try to get a handle on the general stance we have on drinking in the west. We certainly like drinking, but drunkenness is largely viewed as something either juvenile or to be relegated to the weekends. Is that fair?
EVAN: Somewhat debatable.
GORDON: Then let’s debate.
EVAN: I suppose the question you have to ask yourself is who thinks it’s juvenile? I know a fair amount of people who consider it fairly normal to drink until they can’t see on the weekends, as regular and sacred a routine as my going to church on Sundays.
GORDON: I’ll admit freely that this does happen, but I wouldn’t say it’s what the average person does. In fact, the only people who really have the time and/or physical ability to do so are usually young people and students, bringing me back to the original point.
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH YOUNG PEOPLE IN AMERICA [AND CANADA] AND BOOZE?
EVAN: I agree. So let’s talk about that. What’s the deal with young people in America [and Canada] and booze? Imagine I said that in a Jerry Seinfeld sort of voice.
GORDON: Well, Canada I can’t speak to as much, but I’d argue that the fact that booze is forbidden until the age of 21 has a lot to do with it. It turns alcohol, and to a similar degree, inebriation, into a taboo pleasure and a sign of rebellion and… well, I don’t want to say “maturity,” but I guess “adulthood” is gonna have to suffice.
EVAN: You’re preaching to the choir. A drinking age of 21 is levels of ridiculous, I mean, the only thing you can’t do at that age is rent a car [that’s at 25]. In Ontario the drinking age is 19, which is more or less what I imagined it would be when I was a kid.
GORDON: I’m guessing drinking doesn’t have quite the same mystique that it does in the US, huh?
EVAN: Well, to paint a picture of underage drinking, I visited Toronto for a summer while I was still living in Thailand. I must’ve been . . . sixteen, I guess. When I hung out with some former schoolmates a lot of what was talked about was fake IDs, and something called “drunk dial,” or something, which was apparently a number you could call where people of age would bring you booze for cash.
GORDON: Booze for cash? As opposed to what? Beads and trinkets? You have forever altered my image of Canadian society.
Youth drinking is such a small/easily dismissed part of drinking, though. What else is there to say?
GORDON: So says the hyped-up Hollywood media. High school is nothing but a drug-frenzied orgy to listen to ’em.
EVAN: Dude, when people become of age a lot of them get smashed, this is a true fact.
GORDON: Hence the need to get rid of the drinking age.
EVAN: Okay, so we do away with the drinking age altogether. Now what?
GORDON: Now drinking isn’t something you get to do, it’s something that has to be earned. 21 isn’t some magical number at which you can do no wrong and drink as much as you’re able. Abuse will still be there, but ideally we’ll see a drop in a lot of the stupid binging for binging’s sake.
EVAN: Wait, so how would we earn the right to drink?
GORDON: Well, naturally there’s not going to be any universal standard. I’m hoping decent parenting and societal pressure will enforce general standards for drinking. An eighteen year old who doesn’t drive recklessly and maintains a general balanced perspective on life shouldn’t be barred from having a glass of wine with dinner, especially when his twenty-four year old brother who still acts like a four year old has no limitations in this regard.
EVAN: I just realized that in many Canadian provinces drinking with parental supervision is permitted. I cannot find anything to the same effect for the US. Wait. Hold the phone.
“…17 states do not ban underage consumption, and the remaining 18 states have family member and/or location exceptions to their underage consumption laws.”
GORDON: I’m pretty sure there’s one state somewhere in the Midwest with an old prohibition-era law stating that a minor can buy alcohol if accompanied by an adult, though only in very select situations; it’s pretty archaic.
Though let’s hash this out a bit- I’m guessing that most families aren’t going to be hosting chugging contests, or having little Timmy do tequila shots off the baby-seat.
EVAN:I don’t think that’s what people are worried about, though. I think the concern is more about fourteen-year-olds heading down to their local liquor store and buying a bottle of something that would kill an elephant.
Not to that extreme, of course, but at my old high school there was at least one kid who turned to drinking as a way to deal with stress.As to how, let it be known that you can buy beer at 7-11s in Thailand.
GORDON: You can buy anything in Thailand.
EVAN: You are not wrong.
GORDON: While I do absolutely agree with you, I think we’re asking the wrong question. It’s not “How can we stop kids from drinking” it’s “Why are kids drinking (stuff that would kill an elephant)?”
EVAN:It’s because, as we’ve said, it’s a taboo thing. I think what needs to happen is for us to somehow, in America and Canada, bring alcohol back to the level it currently is in Europe, where you can have wine on a table alongside your water and not have the kids think anything of it.
My question to you is how we change that Western way of viewing hooch.
GORDON: Well, I think the first step is to, like I said, abolish the drinking age.
From there I think it’s a matter of getting people to see drinking more realistically. Again- demystify
EVAN: I get what you said about nixing the drinking age, and we both admitted there may be a few issues there. How exactly are supposed to demystify, though? That was my question to begin with.
GORDON: Well, I don’t want to say we institute a campaign trying to portray the downsides of alcohol, but I imagine that’d backfire more than anything else. As surreal as it might sound, I’d say that more open drinking and easier access to drinking would be the answer. You get to see drinking in it’s entirety- the good stuff and the bad- without an agenda being shoved down your throat.
EVAN: My counterpoint to your suggestion that we should let loose on the public drinking is that we work on the institution that has so demonized the bottle.
Southern Baptists have been down on booze for quite the while, in spite of the fact that our Lord and Saviour partook of the fruit of the vine more than a few times in the Good Book.
GORDON: And the Wesleyans share their part in this. Though in regards to that, I’m not exactly sure how to argue with those people- what argument can I make that hasn’t already been made in the past couple hundred years?
EVAN: Yeah, I don’t know.
“You guys, Jesus drank. He drank with friends and enjoyed it, but he never got drunk. It’s cool, you guys.”
Anyway, we should start wrapping up. Do you want to give us a recap of what we’ve discussed?
GORDON: We’ll as great minds think alike, we’ve pretty much bagged on the existence of drinking ages, agreed that drinking among underage kids is a problem resulting from alcohol’s taboo nature, and batted around a few ideas for solving that problem- generally concluding that we need more drinking and exposure to it. That sound about right?
EVAN: I don’t necessarily think more people need to drink to increase awareness that it’s not a bad thing, but that’s more or less correct.
I wish I had a beer right now.
GORDON: Mmm. New Belgium is coming out with a new stout. It looks fantastic.
EVAN: Yeah, I don’t know a lot about beer past the fact that I wouldn’t mind a cold one right now.
GORDON: It would be refreshing. And speaking of which, we need a new topic for next week. I’ll keep with our discussion of vices and offer up the topic of Smoking and Society.
EVAN: That’s a pretty good one. I’ll propose that we discuss . . . dangit . . .
I’d say we should discuss this new season of Community, but that’d require you to watch all of the new season before next Tuesday night.
GORDON: I have way more free time than you think. It shall be done.
In the latest batch of lectures offered through the ISO’s [International Socialist Organization] annual Socialism conference, there is a speech regarding the issue of post-modernist philosophy. While the title and speaker escape me, as does the majority of the lecture, one particular line stood out to me, and it went a little something like this:
How do you prove a post-modernist wrong? Drop him in the middle of the ocean and tell him that his petty and self-imposed definitions are the reasons he’s drowning.
Now that’s not exactly how the line went- but that’s pretty much the gist of it. The whole point of the speech was to point out the flaw in post-modernism, that while we do tend to make problems for ourselves with our adherence to self-imposed definitions (you can hear a lot of this reasoning used in the whole debate over sexual orientation), there are nevertheless certain inescapable truths regarding our situations that can’t be overcome by changing our attitudes. Your refusal to adhere to any preconceived notions of health doesn’t stop cancer from killing you. An oncoming train doesn’t care one way or the other if you choose to accept society’s standards.
All of that’s just to say: perspective isn’t everything; some facts are simply immutable; which brings us to the topic of this fine Shame Day.
I recently came across this collection of shots taken from a Family Guy episode.
As much as you can rail on the show, you have to admit that every once in a while it manages to make some pretty clever points. Obviously the joke here is that we have a pretty twisted double-standard in this country. Simply paying for sex is prostitution, but add a camera and a few loose titles and you suddenly have a completely legal act. Pretty much nothing has actually changed, and as ridiculous as it is, this idiotic mentality is actually taking sway.
You may have heard of the rather clever bars in Minnesota (and England, though I can’t confirm the Brits) circumventing anti-smoking laws by declaring their patrons to be actors, and their cigarettes/cigarillos/pipes/cigars/etc. to be props. Obviously this isn’t actual theater, but because the law prohibits smoking in some situations but not in others, the bars can pretty easily get around the issue (which, by the way, I applaud them for). This isn’t meant to be an example of this mentality going wrong, just an example of it being used (even if somewhat sarcastically). But don’t worry, the uglier side of this is just ahead.
You may also have heard of cadmium, a toxic chemical sometimes used in paint, being used in the making of Shrek glasses sold by fast food empire McDonald’s (though other companies were complicit as well). Upon being discovered, many of these companies simply rebranded their products as being “adult collector’s items,” the FDA having separate standards for acceptable cadmium levels in products geared towards adults. Obviously these items are not “adult collector’s items” and would still wind up in the hands of kids, but hey, what do these guys care? They can get away with it by ducking through this little definitional loophole.
That even goes for the commander-and-chief, who drew fire (rightly so) from most every side of the political sphere when he, to reduce the embarrassment of collateral damage from drone-strikes, simply expanded the definition of militant to include anyone within the bast radius of the strike. There are inner-party members of IngSoc who would call that “a bit much.” I mean, think about it. The single most powerful individual on the planet has declared that the weapons of his country have something that resembles a cross between the logic of a four year old and the papal bull of inability. “We only kill terrorists, we killed that twelve-year old, therefore, we killed a terrorist. High-fives all around.”
My view of pretty much everything the president does
Look, rebranding can be sleazy, but this is simply insane. Naming a fish a bird will not result in different results when chucking it off of a roof. Some things simply are. A smoker is a smoker, cadmium is toxic, and a dead kid is only ever a dead kid.