Recently in lecture we have discussed law and the idea that “an unjust law is no law at all.” I certainly agree with this, statement. But what laws in the United States possibly can be applied to this statement? One of the first laws that come to mind is the legal drinking age of 21 in the United States. College student have writhed in agony over this law ever since it was instituted by state governments between the years of 1984 and 1988. The United States is one of five countries to have the legal drinking age at 21 years of age. Every other nation has set it at a younger age or has no drinking age at all. So, why the move from 18 years old to 21? The truth is that the consumption of alcohol is extremely harmful for people in this age range.
In the medical community it is well known that the consumption of alcohol for individuals under the age of 21 is extremely harmful to the human body, and particular the human brain. The human brain continues its development until around the ages of 21 to 22 years old. Before the human brain has fully developed alcohol consumption can slow down or “retard” the growth of the brain which can lead to lower levels of test-taking ability and memory loss amongst many other things. Is this not enough justification for the law? I certainly believe that this law is justified. Do I personally find it frustrating that it is illegal for me to consume alcohol as a young adolescent trying to experience the thrills of College? Absolutely, but I still support the law.
College students and many other young adolescents who are not of the legal drinking age openly protest against this law and break it. Certainly this is considered a scenario where people feel as though this unjust law is no law at all. It is clear that throughout the nation a massive portion of the United States population finds it acceptable for underage kids to drink. Parents around the country drop their kids off at ‘open house’ parties in high school where they without doubt know their children are going to drink. Every year during June parents are always throwing graduation parties for their child’s conclusion to High School by openly serving everyone alcohol, and including the seventeen and eighteen year old graduates. Is this right? I honestly do not know, but I know for a fact it is illegal. What I also do know is that for every beer or shot a kid is drinking they are putting themselves more and more at risk of the serious damages alcohol can inflict on their undeveloped brains.
The United States government may have not understood the cultural backlash that was going to follow the changing of the legal drinking age, but they sure understood the fatal implications of alcoholic consumption on underdeveloped brains. I believe that they made the right choice. Do you believe they did? Do you believe the drinking age should be 18 or 21, or perhaps should there be none at all? Additionally, do you believe that with the social acceptability of underage drinking in our country today that this is a case of an “unjust law being no law at all”?
Links to sources on worldwide drinking ages and the effects of drinking on undeveloped brains are provided below.