C’mon, 21 isn’t old enough anymore?

What a way to kick off adulthood – a bowl of cereal, Pop-Tarts and a martini.

Mat Koehler

Minnesota Gov. Tim “Turbotax” Pawlenty recently signed a bill into state law making it illegal for 21-year-olds to drink alcoholic beverages. For that kind of activity, our state legislators determined one would have to be at least 21-years-and-eight-hours-old.

That’s right, now eager 21st-birthday celebrants are forced to postpone their first sips of Grandpa’s cough medicine until breakfast, at the earliest. What a way to kick off adulthood – a bowl of cereal, Pop-Tarts and a martini.

I can see how one might think the new law has a noble cause. It aims to stop “power hour,” or the act of taking 21 shots of hard alcohol in the hour after midnight. Apparently, a couple people died from doing this (big surprise). But I don’t see how the eight-hour grace period will stop this from happening again. If you’re dumb enough to drink 21 shots the moment you turn 21, who’s to say you won’t do it the next night or the night after that? If the lawmakers are so worried about age binging, they should also pass a bill prolonging the time before 13-year-olds can watch PG-13 movies, 18-year-olds can buy cigarettes and 65-year-olds can retire.

Most will find this prohibition ruins the vast majority of 21st birthday celebrations, during which the birthday person has a few responsible drinks with some friends after midnight. Why wouldn’t the bill just ban bars from serving someone more than a set number of drinks for his or her 21st birthday? No one on earth should be allowed to order 21 drinks in a night, let alone newly legal drinkers.

It’s hard to imagine a bill like this passed without any obstacles; in fact, it supposedly gained support during its journey to Pawlenty’s desk. What was everybody thinking? What did they do on their 21st birthday nights, play Parcheesi and munch on sugar cookies?

One can also discredit this ridiculous law because of its history. As you might have guessed, the bill was introduced here only after it passed in North Dakota, making it clear that Minnesota is a legislative Xerox machine. Cripes, why don’t we just merge states while we’re at it?

In any case, I’m frustrated for my 20-year-old friends who can’t enjoy the midnight tradition that everyone else they know observed. This new law certainly takes the fun out of turning 21 – whether someone drinks or not, he or she won’t even be able to feel 21 until 8 a.m.

There are only three other countries on Earth with a drinking age as high as ours. With this law, it becomes an even longer wait to celebrate new adult responsibilities. Heck, now people will party harder than ever come the night of their birthday. The new power hour might have 22 shots – an extra for the eight hours of illegality one has to endure.

If politicians don’t trust 21-year-olds on their birthdays, will they ever? We are not a bunch of crazed, brainless drunks, Mr. Pawlenty (although, I can’t speak for members of the greek system). Furthermore, we don’t need any guidance when it comes to controlling ourselves. I concede that a few of us are stupid on our 21st birthdays, but just remember that many of you politicians are stupid all the time.

Mat Koehler welcomes comments at [email protected]