My comment is that I am worried that now the moral brigade have been succesful making smoking in public places socially unacceptable that alcohol will be their next target.
We already have the situation where many areas of town centers are alcohol free. In Oxford most of the city center and some of the parks are already like this. The purpose of this was to try to get the homeless drunks and beggars to move out of the center to make it nicer for other people, but in reality it just pushed them further out into other parts of town, thus doing nothing about the core problem (alcoholism and homelessness). Instead it punishes us ordinary people who are not allowed to wander around a pictuoresque town and have a little picnic in a park, accompanied by a bottle of wine or beer.
The point of the charity lobbying to make it illegal for children to have any alcohol at home is to try and stem the problem of teenage binge drinking. However, this solution again does not fix the core problem and instead penalises the ordinary person.
When I was young we used to have a glass of diluted wine with our Sunday dinner… we did not turn into teenage alcoholics. Instead it made us aware about alcohol at an early age, so that when we were legally allowed to drink at 18, we didn’t feel the need to rush out and start binge drinking. Teenagers are still going to go out and obtain alcohol somehow, but outside of the security of their own home and family.
I understand that in America where the legal age is 21, it is worse, with probably most students breaking the law while at college. When ordinary people end up breaking the law doing things that the majority of people would think morally acceptable, then you lose respect for the law and start breaking other laws, relying on your moral instinct instead of the actual law.
There are many other situations where the remedy for a problem has been to punish ordinary people without helping at all to cure the real problem, examples are:
- Speed Cameras: It is not a careful person driving at 38mph in a 30mph area with good visibility that kills people… Careful drivers will slow down if they see a potential hazard, or the road conditions require it. The killers are the boy racers, teenagers who steal cars, tired drivers, drunk drivers and generally people driving without due care and attention.
- Metal barriers on footpaths: I think these are there to prevent motorcyclists from going down alleyways and footpaths… but all it really does is make it difficult for people with bicycles, prams, wheelchairs, luggage. I am often tempted to carry a hacksaw and chop these things down. The real solution would be better signposting followed up with random covert monitoring with serious on the spot fines for motorcyclists caught doing it. After a few well publicised cases of people getting fined and their motorbike confiscated it should remove the problem.
Anyway… where was I. About alcohol becoming socially unacceptable… Drink driving attitudes have changed a lot over the last 5 years or so. Many people now take the attitude of not driving after ANY drink. This means that many country pubs have either closed down, or turned into restaurants. In reality, drinking a small amount within a certain timescale, is going to have less affect than driving tired or under stress.
To summarize… while I appreciate that binge drinking and alcoholism is a bad thing, I do not think that banning children being able to be given a glass of diluted wine at home is going to do anything about the problem, and is likely to make it more likely that teenagers will drink illegally outside the home and become binge drinkers when they reach 18.