Monday, June 02, 2008

Sins of the sons (and daughters)

So the government's latest wheeze for tackling underage binge drinking is to prosecute the parents of persistent drinkers. Brilliant!

Having decided that we don't want to be criminalising more and more young people for their use of cannabis we're now going to criminalise more and more young people for using alcohol - and not only that, we're going to criminalise the parents as well.

What planet are these people on?

Having spent decades demolishing parental authority - or indeed, authority of any kind - and "empowering" children to make their own decisions about their lives the liberal progressives now expect the parents to be responsible for the choices those children make.

Just what are the parents supposed to do?

When I was very young there wasn't any opportunity for me to drink to excess. The pubs were barred to anyone under 18 and the only other place you could buy booze was in a specialist off licence and they were equally strict about who they sold alcohol too on the whole - probably because it wasn't hard for the police to work out where the kids got their booze from.

I started going into pubs when I was around 16 - I looked older - but because pubs were generally the preserve of older adults and, more often than not, divided into saloon and public bars which made it very easy for landlords to spot underage drinkers or potential trouble, we would usually sit very quietly in the corner with our brown ale or light and bitter. Pubs were genuine social centres where the point was to socialise - have conversations, play a game of darts or bar-billiards and generally relax.

Now pubs -particularly town centre pubs - tend to be large, open-plan, noisy establishments dedicated to one thing and one thing only; getting as drunk as possible as quickly as possible. Proper conversation is impossible above the persistent "thud thud thud" from the sound system, most people stand up and drink (you can cram more people in if there are fewer places for them to sit - and they drink faster standing up) and it is impossible for someone working behind the bar to spot trouble brewing or underage drinkers - mostly because most pubs are now the preserve of younger adults and telling the difference between a 20 year old and a 16 year old is virtually impossible. They all look and behave like teenagers.

But most underage drinkers are not getting drunk in pubs anyway. They are buying their booze from stores and supermarkets which, 30 years or so ago, didn't use to sell alcohol. These days virtually every general store or supermarket has an "off licence" and this is where kids get their booze from. Rather than punishing parents for "letting" their kids drink, the authorities should be clamping down on the places that sell alcohol. Around my way you can even buy alcohol from garages! You can't get screen wash or a can of oil, but you can buy a litre of strong cider and a six pack of skull numbing lager.

Then there is the way kids are introduced to alcohol. My parents started letting me have the odd glass of champagne, wine or beer at weddings and Christmas when I was around 13 or 14 - very carefully monitored of course - but if you do that now then the chances are the police will prosecute the parents for child abuse. But because the liberal progressives have abolished parental authority in favour of child "rights" parents no longer have the wherewithal to control what their children do.

Finally, there is the attitude of the kids themselves. Why do they start drinking so young and to such a degree? When you ask them they'll say "We're bored! There's nothing else to do!" - which, funnily enough, is the same response when you ask them why they smash windows, spray graffiti everywhere or beat up old ladies in the street.

Why are they so "bored" these days? Kids today have far more things to do and far more places to go than we did when I was young, but I don't remember ever getting bored to that extent. The truth is, they are not bored - they are just lazy and indolent. They see their older brothers, sisters and cousins going to the drinking warehouses night after night getting "tanked up" and they think that is "cool" - so they do it as well. That's what young people do, isn't it? Go out with their mates, get legless and maybe get laid.

As the liberal progressives have been telling kids for donkeys years that they can do what they like, it's hardly a surprise that most kids took them at their word.


Blognor Regis said...

Good stuff.

JuliaM said...

"My parents started letting me have the odd glass of champagne, wine or beer at weddings and Christmas when I was around 13 or 14 - very carefully monitored of course..."

Advocaat at Christmas. Or Cinzano, if I was at my grans. Ahhh, memories... ;)

I second Blognor's comment, too. Excellent post. Sums up a lot of the problems we have today...