The Instigator
maxh
Pro (for)
Winning
28 Points
The Contender
TheSkeptic
Con (against)
Losing
23 Points

The National Minimum Legal Drinking Age Act 1984 should be repealed and the drinking age eliminated

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/9/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,368 times Debate No: 8198
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (9)
Votes (8)

 

maxh

Pro

BACKGROUND: The National Minimum Drinking Age Act 1984 (also known as MLDA21) was passed by the US Congress on 17 July 1984. It requires states to create laws setting the minimum age to purchase or publicly posses alcoholic beverages to twenty-one. States that do not comply lose 10% of their federal highway funds. Some states also ban the private consumption of alcohol by those under the age of twenty-one, though this is not required by the Act.

ARGUMENTS: MLDA21 should be repealed for the following reasons:
1) It creates a 'forbidden fruit' effect.
2) It forces drinking by those under twenty-one to move to more dangerous 'underground' venues.
3) It is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.
4) It is not possible to reasonably enforce.
5) Other nations have much lower drinking ages, and yet lower rates of alcohol problems
6) Such a high age creates problems such as '21 for 21', in which someone recently of drinking age drinks twenty-one shots of hard liquor, occasionally causing alcohol poisoning.
TheSkeptic

Con

I thank my opponent for creating this interesting debate.

My opponent's resolution has a crucial word in it, the grammatical conjuction "and". This means that I only need to refute one of the two claims my opponent has made: that either the MLDA21 should be repealed OR that the drinking age should be eliminated. Of course, I could do both but that would be unnecessary ;)

That being said, I will hereby be arguing that the drinking age should NOT be eliminated. While the MLDA21 definitley needs to be changed (not necessarily repealed), my main focus is to refute argument against my opponent's attempt to completely repeal all alcoholic prohibitions.

On a final note, I'm sure that both my opponent and I are at equal understanding of the terms. Repealed obviously means to remove or to do away with, as is eliminated. Drinking age is the youngest age a person in a country can buy and drink alcoholic beverages, while the MLDA21 is described by my opponent. Let's do away with silly semantics and really get into this. So without further ado:

====================
Forbidden Fruit Effect
====================

While I don't necessarily deny this effect, I ask of my opponent where his evidence is. To fulfill his burden, he needs to show that there is concrete psychological (or maybe even biological evidence) for a forbidden fruit effect - which is basically a supposed desire for something that is banned/illegal BECAUSE it is banned/illegal.

Even when he does, he has to show why in light of this alcohol must be free of prohibition. Because while legalizing it may remove the effect, there is the bigger problem of young kids getting drunk, getting into accidents, etc.

====================
Forces underage drinkers to move to dangerous 'underground' venues
====================

So what? There are many types of guns that are made illegal, and subsequently people go out of their way to obtain them via the black market - somewhere that is much more dangerous. However, does that mean we should legalize it? Of course not! Because while it's prohibition has some bad side effect (see forbidden fruit effect), legalizing it will do even worse. If all guns were made legally up for sale, then we will have some very serious robberies, shootings, murder, etc. If all alcoholic beverages were made legal for anyone to buy, then we will have some very high numbers of alcoholic-related accidents.

====================
Violation of the Equal Protection Clause
====================

Oh boy, what a commonly abused and misunderstood clause, the infamous Fourteenth Clause. The purpose of the clause is not to give EVERY individual equal rights, but equal APPLICATION of laws. The only time when the law won't be equally applied when there is a "rational basis" for doing so[1]. So what is the rational basis for a drinking age? Simply that children, who obviously aren't fully developed in their rational thinking and especially impulse control, can wreck potential havoc with legal access to drinking. Especially if they live in impoverished areas.

====================
It's not possible to reasonably enforce
====================

On the onset, a simple ban by liquor stores helps to curb away young teenagers from purchasing it. However, while I can that it's difficult to scour everywhere for illegal drinking, the point is that implementing a drinking age will still prevent many adolescents from purchasing it. In fact, if it were to be legalized than MANY more young adults will purchase it, leading to more tragic accidents.

====================
Other nations have lower drinking ages and yet lower rates of alcohol problems
====================

The fallacy in using this argument is that other nations are NOT geographically, demographically, socio-culturally, and politically, etc. identical to ours. When you are trying to compare the collective thinking of an entire NATION to another, then you are stepping in very very very muddy waters.

====================
The problem of drinking games
====================

I hardly see how this is an argument. Even if we abolish the drinking age, people will always think of new ways to drink an abhorrent amount of alcohol and die in the process. Just look at frat boys. The bottom line is that unless you have good statistical evidence for this, it can be thrown away as moot.

However, let's just suppose you are correct. It is STILL not an issue, because the government shouldn't be concerned with protecting someone from themselves, only what individuals do to other individuals.

====================
Conclusion
====================

We have 4 Rounds, and this is just the first. So with those small clips of my arguments intact, lets get this GOING :D! Man I'm hyper today.

---References---
1. http://topics.law.cornell.edu...
Debate Round No. 1
maxh

Pro

"[S]how that there is ... a forbidden fruit effect - which is basically a supposed desire for something that is banned/illegal BECAUSE it is banned/illegal."
It's simply human nature to not want to submit to the will of another (in general). A law is essentially a powerful external force telling one not to do something, which leads to an equally strong reaction of wanting to.

"Because while it's prohibition has some bad side effect (see forbidden fruit effect), legalizing it will do even worse."
The difference between guns and alcohol is clear: guns provide protection against other guns. Alcohol does not have that feature. In underground alcohol parties, more drinking occurs (since the next time it will be available may be far off) and reports of alcohol poisoning are less likely (for fear of arrest). The combination leads to a huge increase in deaths.

"If all alcoholic beverages were made legal for anyone to buy, then we will have some very high numbers of alcoholic-related accidents."
This assumes that causing an accident due to alcohol is legally permissible. Take, for example, car accidents. If one assumes that the punishment for causing an accident is less than that of violation of the drinking age, the drinking age is redundant. With the opposite assumption, the law that effects everyone, rather than the discriminatory law, is redundant. The first situation seems much preferred.

"The only time when the law won't be equally applied when there is a 'rational basis' for doing so."
From your own link: "[g]enerally, the question of whether the equal protection clause has been violated arises when a state grants a particular class of individuals the right to engage in an activity yet denies other individuals the same right." The law grants the right to drink to those over twenty-one, but denies it to those under twenty-one. Clearly discriminatory.

"In fact, if it were to be legalized than MANY more young adults will purchase it, leading to more tragic accidents."
An emotional appeal. However, we live in a nation in which '[t]hey who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security' (Benjamin Franklin). Although some accidents would occur, the avoidance of risk is not worth the removal of freedom.

"[T]he government shouldn't be concerned with protecting someone from themselves, only what individuals do to other individuals."
Ah, so we're in agreement then.

That's all I've time for, with three minutes remaining.
TheSkeptic

Con

Since my opponent has said nothing against the definitions and my way of attacking, then it must be assumed that he agrees with the said terms. Also, my opponent hasn't given much of a response. But that's probably due to him barely getting by the time limit ;). A response is better than no response anyway, so let's get going with this.

====================
'Forbidden fruit' effect
====================

My opponent hasn't given me ANY evidence for the forbidden fruit effect. All he said that it is "simply human nature". Where is the evidence for this? Psychological evidence? Biological evidence? Just saying it is true does NOT make it true - it's literally ipse dixit[1].

====================
Forces more dangerous "underground venues" to appear
====================

>>>"The difference between guns and alcohol is clear: guns provide protection against other guns. Alcohol does not have that feature. In underground alcohol parties, more drinking occurs (since the next time it will be available may be far off) and reports of alcohol poisoning are less likely (for fear of arrest). The combination leads to a huge increase in deaths."<<<

Legalizing alcohol for all will result in more alcohol related accidents, leading to MORE death and unwanted injury for those who are not involved with the drinker (drunk driving as a prime example). The gun example is analogous because what will happen if we legalize EVERY type of gun for civilian use? We will have some very serious crimes involving .50 caliber sniper rifles and fully automatic high powered assault rifles.

Do realize, that my concern is not for those who drink, but rather for those who are the victim of alcohol abusers. Thus, this point also applies to my opponent's example of "underground alcohol parties". While they may exist or not (my opponent has yet to show they are a common occurrence), they only affect those in the parties. The government should be limited to protecting people from others, NOT people from themselves.

>>>"If one assumes that the punishment for causing an accident is less than that of violation of the drinking age, the drinking age is redundant. With the opposite assumption, the law that effects everyone, rather than the discriminatory law, is redundant. The first situation seems much preferred."<<<

I'm sorry, but this bit is very confusing. Can my opponent clear this up? This way I won't commit a strawman.

====================
Violation of the Equal Protection Clause
====================

My opponent has clearly either ignored a part of my source, or has failed to read the rest of it. Especially when it states that "traditionally, the Court finds a state classification constitutional if it has "a rational basis" to a "legitimate state purpose"[2]. It's common sense - the law is applied equally UNLESS there is a good reason to do otherwise. Why is there a voting age? Because toddlers are unequipped to make coherent decisions, especially when considering their psychological development. Why is there a driving age? Because adolescents not only have less of an impulse control, among other things. Why is there a drinking age? Because uninhibited drinking by adolescents with less impulse control leads to more drunk-driving accidents leading to more deaths and injuries on INNOCENT bystanders.

====================
It's not possible to reasonably enforce
====================

My opponent says nothing to refute my argument concerning this point.

However, he does reply to my latter statement which said that legalizing alcohol would lead to many more tragic accidents. He says this is an emotional appeal and that the sake of freedom shouldn't be given up due to the risk of accidents. My argument is NOT an emotional appeal, and the risk of death is NOT an emotional argument. The point is that legalizing alcohol will lead to further deaths on OTHERS, people who aren't drinking or having to do with alcohol. Drunk driving is an obvious example, and allowing alcoholic drinking to go rampant just worsens the situation.

====================
Other nations have lower drinking ages and yet lower rates of alcohol problems
====================

My opponent says nothing to refute my argument concerning this point.

====================
The problem of drinking games
====================

My opponent says nothing to refute my argument concerning this point.

====================
Conclusion
====================

My opponent agrees with me that the government should be concerned with only protecting individuals from others, but this doesn't mean that I support his position. Freedom is a great right to have, but we shouldn't go around allowing everything on sight. This will inevitably lead to senseless accidents and deaths for those who are NOT invovled, essentially violating the principle both my opponent and I agree on.

---References---
1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
2. http://topics.law.cornell.edu...
Debate Round No. 2
maxh

Pro

maxh forfeited this round.
TheSkeptic

Con

My opponent has forfeited his round due to time restrictions, but it was a bug or an error in the coding that didn't allow him to enter his argument (he still had 13 minutes left). No worries to my opponent - I have agreed to refute his argument that he wrote in a pastebin link. So check it there if you need.

====================
'Forbidden fruit' effect
====================

In response for the evidence of the forbidden fruit theory (FFT), my opponent gives me an abstract from a research paper showing evidence for the FFT, but is it really conclusive? In psychology, there has been a debate raging over the FFT and the tainted fruit theory (TFT), which says basically the opposite of the FFT. Since I am almost out of time, I unfortunately won't get to refute the FFT, but I will take an alternative route:

Simply redesign the methods of prohibition. Studies have shown[1] that the FFT can have different effects on different gender groups, such as adolescent boys preferring to watch age-appropriate television while adolescent girls do not, so it's obvious that all degrees of prohibition aren't effective for every age and gender group. In fact, the FFT is based on the reactance theory, which states that "if the costs are seen as too great, the individual may refrain from initiating freedom restorative behavior and ultimately accept restrictions placed upon his/her freedom." This means that if we make the punishments for alcohol harsh - an obvious form of prohibition - then we can avoid the FFT. This, or many other types of methods (such as rewording warning labels), all have credible psychological evidence from BOTH competing theories.

Because face it - with a wide abundance of free alcohol, the amount of drunk driving will stay higher than it will if there was a drinking age AND an effective system of prohibition.

====================
Forces more dangerous "underground venues" to appear
====================

My opponent points out the use of personal transportation, which can lead to drunk driving. A good notice, and I concede this point. However, this doesn't mean I lose my footing on this position - I simply need to take one step back. In concurrence with my previous point, you simply need to redesign the methods of prohibition. I gave an example of how: by significantly increasing the punishment for such behavior.

---->>>"There are two relevant ways to reduce drink driving: punishing the activity itself and punishing underage drinking for the chance it will result in drink driving. Since (assuming equal enforcement, of course) punishing drink driving affects everyone, and only those who are actually causing danger, and the drinking age affects only those under 21, even if they are not causing danger, drink driving laws are preferable to a drinking age.

----> There are more dangers to abuse of alcohol than just drunk driving, such as the potential for long term abuse.

====================
Violation of the Equal Protection Clause
====================

My opponent has not said anything to refute my arguments here.

He has, however, tangent off and instead replied to my statement of why there is a voting age...by linking me to another of his debates. Sorry, but just giving me a link for some other debate you have does NOT constitute as an argument here. Otherwise, it'll just be a battle of links.

---->>>Actually, the drinking age (slightly) increases drink driving. "States that did not raise their MLPA's [minimum legal purchase ages] during the 1976–81 period experienced a slightly larger decrease in fatal crashes among drivers under twenty-one years of age than did those states that did raise their MLPA's. The difference is not large enough to be called significant, but it does suggest that raised drinking ages are not associated with any net reductions in fatal crashes by young drivers

--> Again, refer to my first argument. If we can redesign the methods of prohibition more effectively, than occurrences like this won't happen.

---->>>"But such impulse control problems are caused by age restrictions such as the drinking age."

--> Dr. Epstein's work is certainly interesting, though prone to controversy. This author, who my opponent cites, does no fully comply with his suggestion however. While my opponent is against all forms of age limits, Dr. Epstein suggests something slightly different. He presents us with the option of giving children from the age 13-17 a competency test (realize that there is still an age limit for those under 13)[3]. So even if we were to go with his suggestion, there is STILL an age limit. Why for the 12 and under? Simply because of biological differences in the brain. Studies have shown that "the last to mature [of the brain] is the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex at the very front of the frontal lobe. This area is involved in control of impulses, judgement and decision-making"[4].

====================
It's not possible to reasonably enforce
====================

My opponent says nothing to refute my argument concerning this point OR his statement saying that my argument against legalizing alcohol is an emotional appeal.

====================
Other nations have lower drinking ages and yet lower rates of alcohol problems
====================

My opponent gives me another link showing how America has high alcohol abuses and a drinking age and whatnot, but he STILL misses the point. You can't accurately compare to nations and show why one statistic (in this case alcohol abuse) differs from another unless you explain the complex factors for it. America could have higher alcohol abuse because of more abundance of alcohol, stress due to work, low class poverty, etc. - nothing to do with prohibition.

====================
The problem of drinking games
====================

---->>>"Of course, but at least "21 for 21" would become "0 for 0". Let's see someone dying of alcohol poisoning that way."

----> Does my opponent really think that some obscure drinking game, which he has yet to shown occurs at great rates, is a valid argument against prohibition. Because 1. there are so many existing and possible drinking games that can kill you and 2. he supposedly believes in individual freedom, so why not let the people drink?! This very argument COUNTERS his beliefs!

====================
Conclusion
====================

My opponent's argument is a bundle of scattered psychological papers, misdirected statistics, and counterproductive arguments. He needs to realize that prohibition can be accurately achieved without inducing the supposed FFT.

---References---
1. http://books.google.com...
2. http://findarticles.com...
3. http://www.fourmilab.ch...
4. http://www.newscientist.com...
Debate Round No. 3
maxh

Pro

I see the problem now. We're approaching this from completely different grounds. Although we're in agreement that the current drinking age doesn't work, my opponent seems to belief the best solution is to ramp up enforcement, whereas I belief the entire thing should be scrapped. Since such fundamental differences cannot be resolved in the closing round, I urge voters to leave this issue as unresolved.
TheSkeptic

Con

I'm sorry, but my opponent's final argument is nothing more than a forfeit. Whether he intended to or not, unfortunately in a debate you can't just say we have fundamental differences and tell the voters to leave this issue resolved.

I'm not sure how we are "approaching this from completely different grounds". We both believe in the idea that an individual should have complete freedom over themselves unless it negatively affects others. That being said, you argue that in the case of alcohol this can be achieved without any prohibition. I simply argued that there is some prohibition needed to ensure the safety of others. We are not coming from completely different grounds at all.

Ladies and gentlemen, with nothing to refute it becomes apparent that I have won this debate. Vote CON.
Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by maxh 7 years ago
maxh
Ah, apparently including 'www' breaks it. http://pastebin.com...
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
I can't see it 0_0
Posted by maxh 7 years ago
maxh
I entered this with just a few seconds left, but it wasn't accepted for some reason. Since the comment box doesn't allow for the full argument, I've put it on Pastebin at http://www.pastebin.com.... It's 3 421 characters, quite within the 8 000 character argument limit.
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
No problem :). Just put it in the comments, and attempt at some form of organization so it'll be easy for me.
Posted by maxh 7 years ago
maxh
TIME REMAINING: 13 seconds
It doesn't accept it.
It also won't let me access what I typed.

Could I have a few minutes to retype it, please?
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
"Certainly. Makes so people other than those who normally know how to go to black markets, can defend themselves from those who do go to such places :)."

Notice the use of the term "types of guns". I highly doubt you need high-powered assault rifles to defend yourself :)
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 7 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"

So what? There are many types of guns that are made illegal, and subsequently people go out of their way to obtain them via the black market - somewhere that is much more dangerous. However, does that mean we should legalize it?"
Certainly. Makes so people other than those who normally know how to go to black markets, can defend themselves from those who do go to such places :).
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
"my main focus is to refute argument against my opponent's attempt to completely repeal all alcoholic prohibitions."

*my main focus is to refute my opponent's attempt...

Yeah, that silly grammar error was bugging me.
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
WHEW! Just in time :)
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