I love this map I found over at SlashDot, showing the minimum legal drinking ages for countries around the world. There’s a key on the bottom, but basically, it’s “the darker the ink, the older to drink.”
Taking a quick glance, you can see that the old U.S. of A. is one of the darkest shapes out there with a drinking age of 21, which seems a little geriatric when you look at all the lighter shades on the map.
Our conservative ways are only outdone by a handful of Middle Eastern countries that have outlawed drinking alcohol entirely. I say let them do as they please, because I don’t ever expect to Priceline a great deal at the Tehran Holiday Inn.
Anyway, according to the rest of the world, it looks we’re a bunch of prudes with our 21-year-old drinking age. Of course most Americans have had a drink (or several keggers) by the time they hit 21, so this is more of a cultural ideal, like speed limits or 12 items on the express checkout lane. Sure you’re supposed to follow these rules, but most folks fudge a bit.
I think 21 is a little too old, as it allows lazy parents to feel like they can push off educating their kids about responsible drinking. At least until the day they find Junior passed out on the front lawn with penises drawn all over his face. Then it’s kind of too late for a constructive conversation, no?
I say move the drinking threshold to a more realistic age – one where kids naturally begin experimenting with alcohol – and teach them about making smart choices when they start hitting puberty. We should be parents to our kids and not look to the government to legislate their behavior. Education, not legislation – that has a nice ring to it.
That’s my take – what about you?