The ‘war’ on underage drinking

War” has become quite a ubiquitous term lately. One can scarcely turn a page of the newspaper without encountering the term at least once. Apparently, wars are being fought continually, even right here in the United States. If I were less inclined to look outside every once in a while, I might anticipate a scene similar to the shelled beaches of Normandy.

The term that once represented the most severe form of political and military conflict between nations has become a meaningless idiom of political jargon. Today, we have a war on drugs, a war on poverty, a war on terrorism, a war on crime, a war on underage drinking and even a war on music piracy. Our superfluous use of the word has caused me to invoke an entirely new definition: A war is an ignorant battle against an undefeatable enemy that is perpetuated by stubborn, naive and archaic idealists.

The Minnesota Daily’s Sept. 8 article, “Police crack down on illegal alcohol consumption, sales,” on the University’s fight against underage drinking (coined Operation NightCAP) was the final impetus that led me to this conclusion. While numerous students likely groaned at the news of so many parties broken up and kegs confiscated, University police officers and other officials gave themselves an obligatory pat on the back for a job well done.

However, like in so many wars, the press coverage is only a facade of propaganda that obscures the truth. I have seen the dangers of this war firsthand, and very rarely do officers leave behind the utopia that they would like to imagine. The first weekend after the commencement of classes at the University, I witnessed several police officers tackling a partygoer to the ground for no evident reason in a parking lot riddled with broken glass. Other officers pulled their cars up driveways at high speeds to detain as many of the underage “criminals” as they could. Officers even sped their vehicles through crowded intersections, barely escaping collisions with pedestrians. And for what? To seize a few gallons of beer? To save us from a life of moral decadence?

Underage drinking is not the problem in this country. The problem is the unrealistic law that turns ordinary young adults into criminals. This dualism that proclaims that the majority of college students are legal adults, but yet are still minors, defrauds the mission of University officials. Moreover, how can one expect “minors” to ignore the hypocrisy of so many legal adults that condemn underage drinking, and yet partake in the same activities, such as excessive drinking?

Granted, alcohol abuse and its consequences are major issues in this country, but nearly all age groups are involved and affected. The only definite way to do away with these problems is to eliminate alcohol entirely. Anyone remember how that went?

It is time to come to grips with reality. The officials of the University are fighting a war they cannot win, despite all of their lofty ambitions and ideals. They must re-evaluate their stance and reform their ideas, otherwise they will go the way of the dinosaurs. When their policing jeopardizes the well-being of students more than the crime itself, they are no longer welcome here.

Sean P. Corcoran is a linguistics junior. He welcomes comments at [email protected]