Editorial: Why defend youth drinking?Published 9:55am Wednesday, September 26, 2012
We are glad views on responsibility with alcoholic beverages are changing, but the incident Friday shows there are still some views to change.
Police officers and sheriff’s deputies are doing more to bust parties where adults give drinks to minors. Beer, wine and liquor producers and distributors are doing more to encourage safe driving and looking out for buddies. Bars and restaurants are doing more to make sure patrons aren’t over-served. All of them are working to prevent youth alcohol consumption. And in general people are being more careful than a generation ago about what they do while they are intoxicated.
But there are still people who feel that if a person is drinking they pretty much aren’t responsible for their behavior. They at times go so far to not recognize when a crime is a crime.
So it is sad news that eight students from Rochester John Marshall High School, visiting Albert Lea for the football game Friday at Jim Gustafson Field, were cited for underage drinking.
But what is even more sad are the people who defend the students for drinking at a school activity.
We don’t mind getting complaints for doing our jobs of informing the public, but this particular line from one email provides a prime example of the forgiveness culture surrounding drinking: “This is the students’ personal lives, and you don’t need to put it in the newspaper. It’s none of your business, so stay out of it.”
There are no bones about it — underage drinking is a crime. When a crime occurs, it is the business of the entire community. Youth drinking is a crime because this community does not want children drinking alcoholic beverages — because every community in Minnesota does not want children drinking alcoholic beverages.
We suppose some people have fond memories of their youth escapades and feel teenagers deserve the same free ride.
That would be the wrong lesson. Instead, we hope the students learned something about responsibility for their actions, and perhaps a few adults have learned that this community takes youth drinking very seriously.