Now as we’ve said before, there’s plenty of folks out in the news who lack integrity. Those folks- your Piers Morgans, your Glenn Becks, your Keith Olbermanns- are plenty nasty, don’t get me wrong, but they’re at least motivated by some agenda. You can generally count on ’em to focus their bile in a precise direction or at specific targets.
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.
I started retweeting people complaining about welfare, food stamps, etc. and then following it up with a previous tweet of theirs that makes them look hypocritical/dumb/etc. I discovered that as I would retweet these, my followers would start @replying these people and let them know they were idiots. They would then delete their offending tweet. Well, I couldn’t let that happen. So, I screenshot away.
What Binder is very aware of is that Twitter is, by and large, a public forum. Anything that you tweet, unless your privacy settings are changed, can be read by anyone and everyone; my local Metro, and other newspapers around the world, have a section dedicated to them. This is something that people like Donald Trump often forget. As he mentions, once the tweets draw enough attention they are normally taken down. While this is unfortunate, screencaps serve to archive these tweets, and I’ve embedded a few for your viewing pleasure. The first two are a few of the more relevant ones, and the last is a wonderful showcase of hypocrisy:
In response to Korean pop artist PSY closing the American Music Awards.
Regarding a few Mexican high school marching bands and dancers marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Just one of the many, many tweet comparisons that highlight the plight of the privileged.
Imagine for a moment, the existence of two mythical lands: Acirema and Adanac. Imagine that you are a citizen of Acirema, living in a little town bordering Adanac. Despite your isolation, you’re just as patriotic as any another Acireman. You wave the Acireman flag, salute it, pledge your undying allegiance to the homeland, and swear to defend her against all attacks. You cheer on your Acireman compatriots competing in the Olympics. You stand up and applaud when they win, and howl with despair when they lose. As far as you are concerned, you are a proud Acireman, a citizen of the greatest nation on earth; you love your country just as every red-blooded Acireman is expected to.
And then it is discovered in an old, forgotten document that a century earlier your far-off neck of the woods was actually purchased by Adanac from some forgettable Acireman president. All this time the Acireman-Adanacian border was actually twenty miles further south, making your town and everyone in it Adanacian. What do you do? You were born in another country, making you a citizen from a country that has until now been foreign to you. Do you still salute the Acireman flag? Do you still cheer for the Acireman athletes? Do you still decry the metric system as a tool of the devil?
You probably get the point by now.
Nationalism, boiled down to its most basic components, is the idea that borders matter. That being born on one side of an imaginary line fabricated by affluent racists a few centuries ago should make you a different person than if you were born a few miles north/south/east/west of it.
Now we’re not exactly caught up in some series of Napoleonic conflicts, so why bring up nationalism as the topic for this week’s shame day?
“America remains the one indispensable nation, and the world needs a strong America, and it is stronger now than when I came into office…”
Now let’s take a few minutes to reflect on the sheer arrogance of that statement.
Good, now let’s break it down.
According to the president, America, and only America, is the one necessity in the world. Brazil, we’re ok if that goes away. The UK can sink into the ocean. China, Russia, Nigeria, Japan, Italy, Laos- these places are “dispensable.” They don’t serve an important function like America does. America is “indispensable”- the one indispensable nation.
Now if this quote came from some goose-stepping splinter cell in Nowhere, Arkansas, we could probably ignore this. However, as it came from the single most powerful man on the planet, we’re probably not crazy for raising some concerns.
I mean, let’s assume the guy is right- America’s existence is the cornerstone of all stability and decency in the universe, and it is simply more important and valuable than all the other nations of the earth. Shouldn’t we then be concerned about damaging this sole stitch in the fabric of civilization? Puerto Rico, a US territory, is currently petitioning to become a state. If it does, will the America that Obama calls indispensable change in such a way as to unravel all of that? What about selling an acre of land in the south to Mexico, would that shift in the border constitute a change to this indispensable nation?
Or maybe it has nothing to do with borders- maybe America’s indispensable nature has to do with its people. Obviously to protect this, we must maintain things the way they are, and keep any immigrants from entering into the nation, or any Americans from immigrating out, lest we screw up the quota that makes us us. Or maybe it’s not about borders or people- maybe America’s unique nature as “indispensable” comes from its values- that’s why we need to never add or abolish any laws or rules or alter our culture or worldview in any way.
Let’s be realistic here. I’m an American, and I am not exceptional. God Almighty does not smile more upon me for have been born in square A than in square B. My blood is not somehow more precious than that of someone who lives a few feet across an imaginary line in the dirt. If a Mexican, a Canadian, and I were drowning in the ocean, you would not be more obligated to rescue me for either of them. I am not any less dispensable than any other human being on the planet by virtue of my passport or my heritage. This idea that we are somehow inherently divided as human beings on the basis of where we were born is unspeakably stupid. There’s nothing wrong with liking the unique things about the place where you live, or the good and courageous things that are being done, or have been done, or the noble values that your countrymen hold. But ranking these things- the unique things, the good and courageous actions, the noble values- as being less or more important on the basis of their proximity to you is just a flipping shame.