Controversy over the Drinking Age

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For decades now, the issue of what age should be considered the proper age to drink alcohol has been intensely debated. Since the 1980s, the nationwide legal drinking age has been 21 and older for the United States. However, this age limit imposed on the consumption of alcohol was controversial then, and it continues to be so today. In 2008, John McCardell, leader of Choose Responsibility and former president of Middlebury College, joined a campaign known as the Amethyst Initiative, which proposed lowering the drinking age to an unspecified number (Amethyst Initiative). In conjunction with this initiative, McCardell wrote an article entitled “Rethinking the drinking age of 21”. On the other hand, an article in the Chicago Tribune called…show more content…
Yet the Chicago Tribune challenges McCardell’s belief that lowering the drinking age will result in safer drinking. The Chicago Tribune states, “legalizing something generally invites more indulgence, not less.” It is the belief of the Chicago Tribune that taking part in a greater consumption of alcohol can hardly be safe. The Chicago Tribune reinforces this belief with a statistic, stating that “when states lowered their drinking ages in the 1970s, alcohol-related crashes involving teens rose.” For this reason, the Chicago Tribune disagrees with the claim that a lower drinking age will result in safer drinking. Although McCardell and the Chicago Tribune seem to be at irreconcilable odds on the matter, both appear to share a common value: the safety of individuals. For instance, McCardell argues that statistics do not really prove why the legal drinking age of 21 results in greater safety for everyone, and he worries about the repercussions that the drinking age has had on the safety of college students. Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune uses statistics to express its belief that the drinking age of 21 is safer than that of a lower drinking age, and that lowering the drinking age will only cause more harm to individuals, not result in their safety. Both essays are primarily concerned with which drinking age will lead to the optimal safety of the individual. Perhaps this common ground can lead to a compromise within the debate concerning the legal drinking age.
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