The legal drinking age in the U.S.A. ought to be lowered to 18.
|Voting Style:||Open with Elo Restrictions||Point System:||Select Winner|
|Updated:||2 years ago||Status:||Post Voting Period|
|Viewed:||1,959 times||Debate No:||54908|
Under the status quo, a person in the United States cannot legally drink until he or she is 21. It is resolved in this debate that this age ought to be lowered to 18.
First round is for acceptance only, semantics are not allowed, sources must fit within the character limits of each round, no new arguments are allowed in the final round, and though the burden of proof is primarily on me, each side must present a substantive case of his or her own.
I thank my opponent, Elijahhill97, for expressing interest, and I look forward to the debate.
The drinking age is 21 because of the maturity and accidents that 18 year old drinkers caused. Here are some facts and a website to help anyone understand why the drinking age was returned back to 21.
"MADD's "Why 21?"" website touts a National Traffic Highway Administration finding that the raised drinking age policy saves around 900 lives a year. Traffic reports show a 62% decrease in alcohol fatalities among teen drivers since 1982. Raw numbers show that drunk driving fatalities have definitely dropped since the early 1980s; despite an 88% increase in the number of miles driven, 2007 saw over 8,000 fewer total alcohol-related traffic fatalities than 1982.(http://mentalfloss.com......)
"Lowering MLDA 21 would be medically irresponsible. Alcohol consumption can interfere with development of the young adult brain's frontal lobes, essential for functions such as emotional regulation, planning, and organization. When alcohol consumption interferes with this early adult brain development, the potential for chronic problems such as greater vulnerability to addiction, dangerous risk-taking behavior, reduced decision-making ability, memory loss, depression, violence, and suicide is greater.(http://drinkingage.procon.org......)"
"The right to drink should have a higher age of initiation because of the dangers posed by drinking. Many rights in the United States are conferred on citizens at age 21 or older. A person cannot legally purchase a handgun, gamble in a casino (in most states), or adopt a child until age 21, rent a car (for most companies) at age 25, or run for President until age 35. Drinking should be similarly restricted due to the responsibility required to self and others.(http://drinkingage.procon.org......)"
These are only a few reasons why the drinking age is at a correct age limit and should stay there. thank you.
My opponent has ignored the rule that the first round is for acceptance only. This rule violation should be forgiven by the voters only if, in the final round, he types only, “No round as agreed upon.” If he does not do that, then that gives him an unfair amount of space for argumentation (he will have had four rounds of argumentation, while I would only have three), and that round by him should be ignored so I have the final word.
So to begin my case, it is important that the voters notice a crucial distinction that will be made in this debate, which is alcohol use vs. abuse. If a person is drinking and acting responsibly, then there is clearly no problem presented by the alcohol use. However, if a person is abusing alcohol, is driving drunk, is binge drinking, etc., then there is clearly a problem. This means that if, as a result of the drinking age being lowered to 18, alcohol use goes up but abuse goes down, then the change in legislation has a positive result. It is therefore important that alcohol use not be conflated with alcohol abuse, and that alcohol use not be seen as something inherently bad.
In this debate, my case will center around three main contentions, which deal with sovereignty, because an adult has ownership over his or herself, safety, because we can reduce abuse and the consequences thereof by lowering the drinking age, and maturity, because the law describes 18 year olds to be mature enough to deal with other decisions of equal or greater severity than the decision to drink alcohol.
I will refute my opponent’s contentions in the next round.
Contention One: Sovereignty
In the Bill of Rights, all of our individual rights come from the basic assumption that a person has ownership over his or herself. We can say what we want, protect ourselves, not testify against ourselves, etc. because fundamentally, we own ourselves. This interpretation of legal rights is also supported by the Supreme Court case, “Roe v. Wade,” where it was decided that a person could do what they want with their own bodies (1). This means that it is a violation of our rights to have the legal drinking age at 21, and regardless of whatever positive or negative impacts might be the result of a change in the age to 18, our legal system is fundamentally based on the ideals of protection of our rights, so this ought to be restored.
Additionally, respect of an adult’s right to be able to drink (which derives from self-sovereignty) is analogous to the right to make most other choices over what an adult can choose to put into his or her own body. A person can decide to eat red meat or candy even though those foods might be bad for them because it is their right to decide what he or she consumes, not the government. To say that an adult can’t drink until they become 21 would be to apply a wholly inconsistent standard.
So regardless of whether or not drinking is bad for people, adults have the right to choose what they consume (which derives from self-sovereignty) and this should be respected by the law. Lowering the drinking age to 18 would accomplish that.
Contention 2: Safety
With the legal drinking age being 21, we are implicitly encouraging alcohol abuse. This can be thought of logically, and it can also be supported empirically. So to create an example, let’s imagine an 18-year-old named Joe. Joe is going to a party tonight. Once there, he realizes that he won’t get a chance to drink again for a few weeks. For this reason, he decides to drink more. At this point, instead of just drinking socially, he ends up binge drinking, because, in his mind, an opportunity like this will not come again for a while. Here Joe is abusing alcohol, which creates infinitely more problems than simple use would. He might decide to drive home (thus putting himself or other drivers at risk), he might get alcohol poisoning and really damage himself, he might act out aggressively. However, if the drinking age is reduced to 18, the scarcity problem is drastically reduced. This is because Joe now has access to alcohol whenever he wants. He might still drink irresponsibly, but the scarcity incentive to binge drink has gone away, so it can logically be concluded that significantly less binge drinking will happen. This means that the harms presented by my opponent are significantly reduced.
Additionally, we can look at international drinking ages and their effects to determine trends that could apply in the United States. For example, our problems with alcoholism and teen alcohol abuse are far more severe than they are in Europe, yet most European countries have lower drinking ages. This is caused largely by differences in how teens learn about alcohol. In the European countries, they are able to be educated about alcohol, and they often see it as simply a part of a meal, while in the United States, teens are often introduced to it without parental or experienced supervision in basements or backwoods with friends (2).
It should also be considered that drinking could be made even safer if the drinking age was lowered to 18 because colleges would be able to actually educate their students more effectively on alcohol and alcohol abuse, thus reducing alcohol abuse even more.
So we can conclude from the evidence and logic presented that, by lowering the drinking age, we would substantially reduce the alcohol abuse problems that come with the status quo.
Contention 3: Maturity
In the United States, certain decisions are restricted due to the maturity of the decision-maker. For example, we are not allowed to run for president until we are 35, because that requires a large amount of responsibility. However, there are many things that we are allowed to do at 18 that require significantly more maturity than drinking. We can enlist in the military and thus willingly die and kill for our country, and we can vote and thus contribute to deciding the fate of our country. These certainly require more maturity than drinking, which, when done responsibly, does not harm anyone.
This means that, as long as the drinking age is 21, the legal standards are totally inconsistent and unfair, and lowering the age to 18 reduces that problem.
As you, the voter, may or may not have noticed, I have structured this case in such a way that each contention is capable of upholding my burden of proof independent of the other contentions. People have the legal right to self-sovereignty, so the law should respect that. Lowering the drinking age would reduce alcohol abuse, thus reducing overall harm to society, and reducing societal harm is what the law should be doing. People have the right to die for our country and change its fate, so the law would be inconsistent and unfair so long as the legal drinking age is not reduced, so the law should be changed. This means that, while the voters should, of course, take the entire case into account, if any one of my contentions still stand at the end of this debate, then I have won.
Thank you for taking the time to read my case. I will refute my opponent’s points in the next round. Also, I apologize for the strange spacing, it appears that debate.org does not like copying from word.
Elijahhill97 forfeited this round.
Refutations to my opponent's case
Reduced Alcohol Related Driving Fatalities
I would like to first point to the fact that my opponent's source link does not actually take us to a specific article, just to mentalfloss.com, making it so we have to manually search for the information.
Now that that's been said, it is important to address how misleading the statistics my opponent has cited are. Yes, traffic reports show a decrease in alcohol fatalities among teen drivers since 1982. However, what wasn't mentioned is that that trend started in the early 1970's, years before the legislative changes to make the legal drinking age 21, suggesting no causal relationship between increasing the drinking age and decreasing alcohol fatalities. Additionally, there are other factors that played into this other than the drinking age, like lower blood-alcohol content limits, mandatory seatbelts, increased public awareness of the problems with drunk driving, airbags, so one cannot buy into my opponent's claims that alcohol fatalities among drivers has dropped as a result of the 21 year old drinking age (1).
Additionally, it is important to note what is being spoken of when speaking about alcohol fatalities and alcohol-related traffic fatalities. Those refer to any fatalities where someone who has been drinking (no matter how little they have drunk) is involved. If a pedestrian with a blood alcohol content as low as .01 is walking across the street and gets hit by a car with a sober driver, that counts as an alcohol related fatality. So based on the numbers given, we can't even determine that teen drunk driving ending in fatalities has decreased (2).
Also, in other countries where the drinking age was 18, like Canada, the alcohol-related traffic fatalities have gone down at an even faster rate than it did over the same time period that my opponent cited, once again making it clear that there is no likely causal relationship between a 21 year old drinking age and lowering alcohol-related traffic fatalities (3).
Here is where it is important to once again draw the distinction between alcohol use and alcohol abuse. The claims that alcohol impairs brain development through a person's twenties comes from a few sources- one is that of giving rats extremely high levels of alcohol, and the second is from studying alcohol and/or drug dependent individuals. It's not surprising that alcoholics do worse at mental tasks than those who don't abuse alcohol.
To address the lab rats, these studies gave huge amounts of alcohol to the lab rats. This would be roughly equivalent to forcing a teen to binge drink daily for weeks or months, and then seeing what would happen. At lower levels of consumption, however, adolescent rats tended to be "less susceptible to motor impairment and also less easily sedated than are older rats." This would suggest that for rat's brains and alcohol, these studies don't produce reliable conclusions. Add to this that rat's function fundamentally differently than humans (for example, many disease cures that work on rats don't work on humans), and you get that this simply doesn't work as a reliable source.
To address the studies that deal with humans, it is not exactly surprising that large amounts of alcohol can impair brain development. That being said, those studies never deal with moderate or light drinking, so we do not know at this point if that impairs brain development.
This being said, it would seem logically sound to assume that, in the very least, moderate or light drinking harms brain development less than alcohol abuse. I have already shown in my previous round how lowering the drinking age would lower alcohol abuse. This means that, by voting for my side, by voting to lower the drinking age to 18, it is actually reducing the problems cited by con with regards to brain development. I am actually creating solvency by lowering the drinking age to 18, while my opponent is defending a culture where underage drinking is done behind closed doors and binge drinking is rampant. It is clear that I have the better impacts.
If anything, it would be medically irresponsible to keep the drinking age at 21, as that results in higher alcohol abuse, which causes more harms than lowering the drinking age to 18 would.
Age of Initiation
This directly clashes with my third contention, which was about maturity. My opponent neglects to mention that we can join the military and vote at 18, which both obviously require more responsibility to self and others than drinking does. This means that the law is currently representing an inconsistent and unfair standard by having the drinking age at 21. It would be more logical to simply support the fact that people have ownership over themselves and say that, once they are an adult, once they are 18, they should be able to choose what goes into their own bodies. If the voters would like, they can re-read my first and third contention, as they both refute my opponent's age of initiation point quite nicely.
I have shown how lowering the drinking age would reduce binge drinking, how a person has sovereignty over themselves, and how the law currently shows inconsistency and unfairness with respect to maturity and legality. All of those contentions, on their own, could support my burden of proof, so if any of them remain standing at the end of the debate, then I have won. As my opponent has neglected to respond, they are still standing as of now. I have shown how all of my opponents points are false, baseless, work for my side, or are illogical/inconsistent, so none of his contentions currently stand.
Thank you for reading thus far, and I hope that my opponent decides to respond in this coming round.
Elijahhill97 forfeited this round.
My opponent has forfeited this round, all of my arguments still stand, all of my refutations still stand, and as my opponent has no further opportunity to post an argument (see the beginning of Round 2), I strongly urge a vote for my side.
Thank you for reading, and if anybody who thinks they can go an entire debate without forfeiting would like to challenge me on this topic, feel free to shoot me a message or a challenge and we'll work something out.
Elijahhill97 forfeited this round.
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