that each fair girl in our abstinence band
Would say: "I'll ne'er give my heart or my hand
Unto one who I ever had reason to think
Would taste one small drop of the vile, cursed drink;"
But say, when you are wooed, "I'm a foe to the wine,
And the lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine."
fuss over the Bush gals trying to buy booze with fake i.d.s has
shed some interesting light on the current state of our morality.
I did not know, for example, until these stories came out, that
there is now nowhere in the U.S. that a person can buy alcoholic
drinks before 21 years of age. This is amazing, when you think about
it. Even more amazing, there are moves afoot to raise the age to
24, nationwide. (Tenth Amendment? 'Scuse me while I fall down laughing.)
To see what
I mean, consider the things we do let people do before age
21. We let them drive, vote, marry, enter into contracts, run up
lines of credit, start businesses, buy shares, scuba dive, skydive,
fight for their country, own firearms, declare themselves "gay,"
and have abortions without parental consent. In fact, we let them
do anything at all. At age 18, Americans are adults ... who may
not buy a drink for three more years.
I'm going to
show my colors right away here: I think this is ridiculous. No,
that doesn't quite express what I think. Let me try again: I think
this is GIBBERING LUNACY. A drink, for goodness' sake! However
did we get so damn prissy? America used to be famous for drinking.
Visitors to this country in the 1950s reported with awe on the quantities
of alcohol Americans disposed of daily. Working men would think
nothing of slipping out of the house after dinner to put away 15
or 20 beers in the neighborhood bar. Middle-class folk drank gin
by the tankard: a couple of martinis after work to relax you, a
couple more before dinner, a couple more after dinner... Drunkenness
was regarded as a harmless, faintly comical side effect of an essential
social pastime. This was not long ago: Dean Martin was doing his
lush act, to laughter and applause, well into the 1980s. What happened?
The answer is, of course, that PC happened, run-amok trial lawyers
happened, and the Boomer Imperium happened.
that last. When you look at the state of modern morality, it's hard
to avoid the impression that it's a sort of photographic negative
of the morality of the 1950s. Back then, well nigh everyone smoked
and drank. The great majority of citizens thought that sexual promiscuity
was shameful, that abortion was a form of murder, that homosexuals
were pathetic freaks, that bastardy was a disgrace and that black
people were morally inferior to whites. The people who believed
those things were of course the parents of the boomers. In the great
meritocratic wave that followed WW2, the boomers got themselves
college educations, and came to look down on their parents and all
the things their parents believed.
no high-spirited young person, in any age, has ever wanted anything
to do with his parents' tastes or values; but this was generally
just a passing phase. With the boomers, it is an entire ideology.
Our parents smoked and drank: we shall stamp out smoking and drinking.
Our parents deplored promiscuity: we'll make it the dominant theme
of prime-time TV. Our parents thought it a disgrace to bear a child
out of wedlock, or catch a venereal disease: now movie and pop-music
stars display their bastards with pride, and when some basketball
player gets VD, it is taken as a sign of divine grace. Our parents
looked down on black people; we'll put them on a fast track to jobs,
college admissions, government contracts. Our parents thought abortion
should be a crime; we'll make it available over the counter at K-Mart.
Our parents thought homosexuals were freaks; we'll make movies (American
Beauty) in which they are the only well-adjusted characters.
Good, bad, or just plain silly: whatever — so long as it's the opposite
of what Mom and Dad thought.
animus against alcohol is clothed in the mantle of "safety."
If you take several drinks, one after another, you might fall down
and hurt yourself. Worse yet, you might get in your car, drive away
at speed, and kill my kid. Younger people are more likely to do
this than older people. So let's stop young people drinking. The
notion that there might be other approaches — make drunk-driving
a lock-up felony, for example — seems not to be considered. The
kind of people in charge here are not the type to contemplate indirect
methods. It's bad; it might harm someone; ban it. We've seen all
this with tobacco, of course, where the crusade has long since left
the domain of reason and disappeared into a realm of sheer cackling
insanity. In New York City, they now want to ban smoking in parks.
cultural war between, on the one hand, the thin-lipped, snooping,
prohibiting, intolerant rooters-out of heresy and impurity that
arrived on the Mayflower, and on the other hand the wild, fighting,
drinking, smoking, shooting, Who's-your-master?-He-hasn't-been-born-yet!
Scotch-Irish of the frontier has at last been won, by the Puritans.
Sure, they're puritanical about a whole different set of things
nowadays — the "A" for "adultery" brand is now
an "R" for "racism" or "H" for "homophobia"
— but the prim, persecuting, purifying cast of thought is all too
plain to see.
My local newspaper,
the far-left Long Island Newsday, ran a gushing story on
Sunday about a "gay prom" to be held at a local country
club. Around 200 "gay and lesbian, transgendered and bisexual"
students from high schools — high schools! — all over Long Island
will be dancing under the disco ball. "I'm proud of it,"
says sophomore Frank, 16 years old. "I have an incredible sense
of pride and accomplishment." Pride and accomplishment, like
he swam the goddam Hellespont. Newsday hastens to reassure
us, though, that only non-alcoholic beverages will be served. Oh,
that's all right, then.
I need a drink.