Aug 302004
 
Authors: JP Eichmiller

Colorado beer magnate and U.S. Senate hopeful Pete Coors cannot

be accused of ignoring the issues that affect the 18- to

21-year-old demographic in his state.

While much of the CSU student body had retreated to a blissful

state of summer relaxation, Coors was stumping out his campaign

platform to Republicans across Colorado. Among the issues brought

up (for many of you the only issue worth bringing up) was Coors’

desire to lower the drinking age from 21 back to 18.

Coors’ stance on the issue was debated this summer during a

breakfast at a noted celebrity hangout and social hotspot, the

Arapahoe County Republican Men’s Club. During the breakfast

gathering, former GOP Senate primary rival Bob Schafer sought to

differentiate his beliefs with those of Coors by bringing up his

rival’s previously quoted views on the legal drinking age.

“We got along fine for years with the 18-year-old drinking age,”

the beer baron said to his constituency. “We’re criminalizing our

young people.”

It is unclear at the moment to whom the “we” in this statement

is referring. However, if any of those indicted in last week’s

riots are in need of a character witness, Coors may be your man.

Any rational judge or magistrate would no doubt buy into this

forced “criminilization” theory coming from the man who brought the

Coors Twins into our living rooms.

Herein lies the real validity of this issue: Would lowering the

drinking age actually help to prevent situations like those that

occurred the weekend before classes began?

Allow us to digress for a moment to a time of big hair and

acid-washed denim. The year was 1987, which for many of you may be

difficult to remember. However, for young booze hounds, Colorado

was truly the land of milk and honey. All that was required was an

ID, valid or otherwise, stating that your true age was 18, and

access to a “bar” serving only 3.2 percent beer could be yours.

Unfortunately for today’s youth, the ’80s was a time of rampant

unchecked social conservatism. Riding the coattails of Nancy

Reagan’s DARE program, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and Len Bias’

cocaine overdose before he ever got to nail a shot for the Celtics,

the federal government began to impose its will of a higher

drinking age on the states. For those who dared to defy it, the

government promised to withhold highway funding until said states’

roads regressed to impassable conditions and the state’s commerce

collapsed.

Needless to say, Colorado succumbed to the pressure, soon to be

followed by other states such as Wyoming, until finally the last

bastion of youthful indiscretion, Louisiana, gave in.

Flash forward to the present: Today, if you are younger than 21

and the desire to belly up at a local drinking establishment

strikes you, living near the Canadian border would be recommended.

For many though, things are as they should be. There are strong

voices out there that say underage drinking is a serious problem in

this country. That these voices come from people whose cars weren’t

even vandalized last weekend lends more credibility to their

beliefs. According to one national advocacy group, the

International Institute for Alcohol Awareness:

In 2001 alone, alcohol consumption by underage drinkers led to

3,212 deaths and 2.4 million other harmful events in the lives of

families and citizens. Alcohol kills and injures more youths than

all illegal drugs combined.

The feasibility of Coors actually enacting a new law mandating a

lowered drinking age is somewhere between zero and nil. The powers

that be in the Republican Party are more worried about what

homosexual people are doing with themselves at the moment. Coming

from Coors, however, it is interesting food for thought. Perhaps

next we will see an heir to the Philip Morris tobacco fortune run

for senator of North Carolina on a platform of lowering the age for

buying cigarettes to 15.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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