According to United States Law the legal age to posses or consume alcohol is 21. According to the law if someone under that age is caught drinking then the police have the right to give them a citation for underage drinking. If you are outside partying in the street it is definitely possible that you can get a ticket or a Minor in Possession, but what if you are 18 and having a glass of wine with your parents at dinner? According to the law that is still illegal.
My question is: does the government have the right to tell us what we can or can not put into our bodies in the privacy of our own home?
Martha Acklesberg and Mary Shanley write about the definition of privacy. They explain that throughout the course of history the Supreme Court has given United States citizens the right or privacy in their own homes. They use the example of homosexual privacy rights. The Supreme Court Case Bowers v. Hardwick ruled that the government had the right to arrest homosexual people for conducting sexual acts or acts of “sodomy” in their own home. Acklesberg and Shanley explain how this was overturned by Lawrence v. Texas where the Justices decided that the government does not have the right to enter in to the sexual matters taking place inside the home. Ackelsberg and Shanley also give several other examples where the supreme court establishes a citizen’s right to privacy. Such as Griswold v. Connecticut, which bars the government from restricting the use of contraceptives in the home. These examples show that when people are in their homes they are protected from government intervention.
I would argue that these Supreme Court decisions could apply to the legal drinking age. It has been established by U.S. Supreme Court that we have a right to privacy in our homes. In these cases it has been ruled that the government has no place in certain matters pertaining to the decisions that people make in their home. If that privacy extends to sex why doesn’t include what we put into our bodies? The home is a private place. In public it becomes a different story. It is illegal for people to have sex in public, and it is even illegal for legal drinkers to be excessively intoxicated in public. This is understandable. There are other people around who may be offended by a sexual act, or endangered by an intoxicated person. In public you are subjected certain laws because your actions can affect other people. If I was drunk in the middle of the street that would pose a much larger threat than me being drunk in my basement. If I am drinking privately at home I do not run the risk or hurting other people in society because I am staying home and not getting behind the wheel of a car, or getting into a drunken bar fight.
I would argue that when a police officer enters a person’s house and cites them for underage drinking they are blending the boundaries between public and private. A police officer cannot dictate what clothes we wear, what we have for dinner, and, as established by the supreme court, who we are intimate with. I believe that this same right of privacy could extend to drinking alcohol.
I am not saying that the drinking age needs to be abolished. There are very good reasons for it. It is known that alcohol can have a detrimental effect on a person’s brain especially a child. The drinking age is designed to protect people from what can be a dangerous substance. My argument is based solely the issue of government intervention and the boundaries of public intrusion. In public, on city sidewalks and streets, the government has the right to make the decisions that they seem fit, but they should not be allowed to police us in our own homes.
Do you think that government’s effort to protect us have they invaded our privacy?
Do you think that we have the right to make the choice of what we put into our body in the comfort of our own homes?
Is it wrong at age 20 to have a glass of wine with your parents at dinner?