You’re a classy and educated person who likes to keep abreast of the day’s news, so you probably saw a recent Breaking News link on the Brutal Hammer about one student’s argument that “mocktail” parties on college campuses encourage binge drinking. And since you’re a classy and educated person, you probably couldn’t stop laughing long enough to finish that gem of earnest college journalism and catch some of the finer points of Mr. Rosenauer’s sterling reasoning. Normally, I’d let this kind of soft journalism just slide, but it is eerily reminiscent of other examples of just-plain-nonsense reasoning from groups like MADD (i.e. their belief that showing anyone between the ages of 21 and 30 in alcohol advertisements will lead to underage drinking) or any number of proposed state-wide bans on powdered alcohol for fears that it will encourage alcohol abuse and under-age consumption because of…I want to say “reasons,” but I haven’t found any in the relevant legislation that stands up to the least amount of scrutiny. So, because I’m an educator at heart, I’d like to take some time from my busy drinking schedule to offer some helpful critiques to Mr. Rosenauer about just how ball-achingly inane his position is. In fact, I studied formal logic in college all those years ago, and hopefully he’ll consider doing the same. Let’s take this point-by-silly-point, shall we?
1. “College is where true alcoholics are born”
This Hammer’s Response: Oh come now, Brent. I’ll chalk this one little bit of psychological and medical insight to the fact that you’re still in college. A claim like that is little more than fluff to help push your misguided agenda, so you might want to consider working for MADD upon graduation day. “College drinking” is nothing like “rest of your adult life drinking” in the same way that the rest of your time in college is nothing like the rest of your adult life. Here it is again in an SAT-friendly analogy format: college drinking:rest of your adult life drinking :: college:rest of your adult life. Notice how “drinking” is the term being modified in both of those expressions of the same fundamental concept that you have yet to grasp. Life within the hallowed walls of Higher Education is radically different in nearly every regard from life as a functioning and contributing member of society.
Why This Matters: Yes, college is a funny little critter. Take, for instance, the differences between the NFL and the NCAA. From a distance, it seems like the people involved are playing the same game, but closer scrutiny reveals some fundamental differences in what is and is not allowed on the field. Even off the field, players in the different leagues are under different codes of conduct. The details may seem minor, but that’s the way we’ve structured it. Similar, but there is an implicit understanding that the association of “college” modifies the way the game is played and what is expected of the players. Your time, your behavior, your image, and your personality in college aren’t necessarily going to be the same once you graduate. The same goes with how you drink. Like how you might love ripping shots of Jägermeister in the dorms, only to grow up and realize that it’s just…just terrible.
Today’s First Lesson: Perspective!
2. “Risk complacency is the idea that an individual may acknowledge the potential consequences of a specific action, but assume that they are so rare that the consequences will never happen to them.”
This Hammer’s Response: That’s what life is. That’s the state of mind that you have to be in just to walk out of your front door, get in a car under any circumstances, or have furniture. If you need more, here’s a great list of the top 25 most common causes of death in the US. Sure, booze can be involved in any number of those, but so can a penchant for knitting or uncaged bear chauffeuring (more on that later). This is, of course, not to mention that life is itself unsurvivable. As a wise woman once told me, “Life is sexually transmitted and 100% fatal.” Get a damn helmet if you’re that concerned about long-shot odds against your survival into retirement age.
Why This Matters: “Risk complacency” sounds like something from a bold font sub-headline in a Psych 101 textbook that sounds insightful but is ultimately hollow. Sell that rag on EBay and just watch this video instead.
Today’s Second Lesson: Perspective and Statistics! That should apply to two different Gen-Ed requirements!
3. “First, for a large number of students, drinking alcohol is illegal.”
This Hammer’s Response: Yep, sure is. However, there are any number of laws on the books nation-wide that have little to no defensible logic behind them. Take, for instance (because you’re in Missouri), driving on a highway with an uncaged bear. Seriously, Missouri–what the hell is happening down there that this was a big enough issue to necessitate legislation? Give me a solid reason why the drinking age should be 21 instead of 18 (when you can officially be tried for crimes as an adult without a second thought and when you can sign up for the military with what is basically a license to kill so long as a superior tells you it’s OK) and we’ll talk.
Laws aren’t always predicated on reason. They’re predicated on whatever loud-mouth managed to get enough dullards behind them to force their nonsense on the rest of us, hampering our 65 mph uncaged bear adventures. Now, I’m not advocating under-age drinking; I’m just pointing out that laws are often illogical and appealing to one like that is only appealing to an illogical rule of law in the service of further illogical reasoning. That’s committing the fallacy of an Appeal to Force.
Why This Matters: Lending any credence to poorly-reasoned laws that disenfranchise part of the otherwise “adult” population only lends credence to people like Virginia’s Alcohol Control Board and all the terrible things they and their ilk are legally permitted to do. (Seriously, read that article. These are the people you are de facto defending.)
Today’s Third Lesson: Logic and Latin! At this rate, you’ll graduate in no time!
4. “One cause of the alcohol tolerance on campus is the ‘hush hush’ attitude of Residential Assistants when it comes to drinking on campus. It’s rare for RAs to look for alcohol violations on campus, but the majority of time when they do they fail to report it.”
This Hammer’s Response: Ever think that the RAs might just be on your side? That they might have more faith in your abilities as an adult than would the cops who could just add you to their tallies of arrests for the week? That maybe they see your time in college as better spent making some mistakes, cutting loose every now and then, and maybe learning something that wasn’t forced upon you to the soft soundtrack of handcuffs for a minor offense? If you were doing something genuinely heinous, then yeah, they should alert the authorities. But are you really standing up for the thugs of groups like the ABC and their tyrannical implementation of arbitrary drinking laws? For shame, Brent. For shame.
Why This Matters: Next, you’ll be telling me all about the myriad ways I ought to properly transport my ursine brethren on Missouri’s majestic highways, what with all their bullet-ridden street signs and billboards for 24-hr Adult Novelty Warehouses. That’s just a line that you do not cross, Brent.
Today’s Fourth Lesson: Not Being a Knob/I’ll Drive My Bear Around However I Damn Well Please (note: these credits are unlikely to transfer)
5. “It is complete stupidity to think that students will go to an event that teaches them how to make awesome mixed drinks and then expect the students to not literally make the drinks with alcohol, and the fact that Res Life is sponsoring the event is just icing on the cake.”
This Hammer’s Response: You didn’t tell me there was cake, Brent. But to your point: that’s just good ol’ fashioned moronic. First, replace “awesome mixed drinks” and “drinks with alcohol” with the following, respectively: “chicken Parmesan” and “dish with chicken.” You seem to blindly follow instruction well, so you should have come up with this: “It is complete stupidity to think that students will go to an event that teaches them how to make chicken Parmesean and then expect the students to not literally make the dish with chicken […].” Now, there’s a big difference that you’re not realizing. You can’t teach some muppet to make chicken Parmesean without teaching them how to use the chicken appropriately. You’re treating alcohol as just some added little extra that you can slip in there and BAM–you’ve made an awesome mixed drink!
It doesn’t work like that. I’ve worked as a bartender, I was trained by bartending industry experts with decades of experience, and I’ve had boozes that you’ve never even dreamt of in quantities that some might call “criminal.” Let me tell you this: a spirit is an ingredient with its own tastes, behaviors, and characteristics. If you try to mix a drink with wrong ratios, wrong preparation, and wrong handling, then all you’ve made is booze diluted with other nonsense, and it will taste terrible.
“Mocktails” don’t teach you how to make “an awesome mixed drink,” my uninformed friend. Mocktails just teach you how to mix fruit juices, so by your reasoning, working at a Jamba Juice or an Orange Julius is tantamount to training as a bartender. It’s also the same as saying that learning how to pour orange juice in a glass does the same thing (since it’s one step away from a Screwdriver, two steps away from a Harvey Wallbanger or a Sloe Comfortable Screw, three steps away from a Sloe Comfortable Screw Against the Wall–my God, when will it end?!). The same reasoning applies to any event that pours you a Coke or a ginger ale or some fucking club soda. God help us all if they serve coffee…
Granted, I’ve never had a beverage that I didn’t think would be instantly improved by some hooch, but your reasoning here is at its worst, if it’s even there to begin with. You make some good points in your article, but this is by no means even close to being one of them. It isn’t even a point, to be honest.
Why This Matters: We’ve all heard some kind of this faulty logic before, precisely because it’s a version of the Slippery Slope fallacy, wherein people like Mr. Rosenauer falsely assume that A just has to lead to B because how could it not, so A must be prohibited. Here’s an example: “If a 16 year old watches The Fast And the Furious: Tokyo Drift, then it will lead to every kid falling in with Asian street gangs and taking inspirational messages from Vin Diesel, and soon our streets will be nothing but kitted-out hoopties, kids fleeing to Japan to avoid jail sentences, and everyone thinking Zachary Ty Bryan is still an actor!” Has any of that happened? No. BOOM–point made. Mic dropped, beer cracked, exit stage left.
Today’s Fifth Lesson: I ought to start charging for all this knowledge I’m dispensing/Logic (again, because you need it badly)/A Dialectic on the Cultural Impact of Vin Diesel/The Appropriate Use of It’s vs. Its
6. “Because at the end of the day, college is about starting your future as an adult – and starting it out as a binge drinker probably isn’t a great first step.”
This Hammer’s Response: You’re missing something crucial: you’re not “starting your future as an adult,” you and your classmates already fucking are adults and deserve to be treated like adults. Adulthood doesn’t really have a grace period–you just have to be one. There is no practice, no trial period where you can try it out and return it for a full refund if you don’t like it. There is no “starting” in the sense that it gears up at some point while you get your footing–it just starts and off you go. None of us have a say in it.
College is a weird place no matter where you are, and sure the rules are different, but you’re still adults. And adults have burdens placed upon them. Trying to either coddle your peers or, more seditiously, trying to assert that they could learn better from you than from themselves, disrespects both them and the nature of cocktails. Frankly, I don’t know which troubles me more (partly because I don’t know your peers personally, but goddamn do I know cocktails).
As much as it may hurt to hear it, you’re treating your peers like children. You’re selling the same nanny-state mentality that retards progress and holds everyone back from developing as independent human beings. Not only do you fundamentally not understand cocktails, you also don’t understand what it means to be an adult. That definition of “binge drinking” that you quote–ever wonder how the CDC set that? We’ve already spoken about the tactics of the CDC here and here. Is there biological or physiological science behind it? Nope, it’s just extrapolated statistics. And as Mark Twain has famously said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Except for the ones I cited before. Those are just facts.
Why This Matters: I shouldn’t have to explain this one, but I’ll deign to give one: it’s this kind of backwards thinking that leads to a bright future in politics, and that way madness lies. Sure, there are problems on college campuses that deserve our full attention like sexual assault and abuse, but the sheer lunacy of suggesting that “mocktail” parties lead to binge drinking, and then implying that the subsequent drinking leads to those kinds of crimes is offensive to both common sense and to those people who are truly victims of someone else’s shitty behavior. This is the kind of thinking that leads to nonsense, neo-prohibitionist ambitions in state legislatures that end up doing more harm than good.
Today’s FINAL Lesson: American Literature/Learn to Listen to Yourself and Think Things Through/My Fridge Is Too Far Away for This Shit
And if anyone’s wondering, yes, I’ve sent sent this to Mr. Rosenauer and await his response the same way I await the response of a blood test from the Free Clinic.
(Image credit here, if you were wondering)