Many parents were shocked and chagrined to see the extent to which young people in the new Harry Potter movie casually consume alcohol, both in the presence of adults and together without adult supervision. True, no one behaved outrageously (although an inebriated Hagrid -- a good guy -- does pass out). But these free-drinking films should be banned!
And while we're at it, what's this about Obama inviting Professor Henry Gates and Sgt. James Crowley for a beer at the White House? Is this a drunken reunion of fraternity brothers? (At least that's better than Mika Brzezinski, of MSNBC's Morning Joe, whose parents are Polish, suggesting that they should be drinking vodka instead.)
But watching the English-based Potter series makes us realize how much in denial the rest of the supposedly civilized world is. Did you know that the UK has a legal drinking age of 18, and 16 when food is served? And this does not begin to tap Continental Europe, where 16-year-olds calmly walk into bars and order drinks and drink at even earlier ages with their families and in restaurants.
What the hell is the matter with the world? Obviously, the U.S. needs - as in so many other areas - to set the bar higher. Indeed, the stated goal in the United States is to delay children from drinking as long as possible - and certainly until age 21. Hopefully, as expressed by one leader of this movement whom I discussed the issue with on Fox & Friends, they'll never drink. Instead, they can consume tons of corn starch in soft drinks and snack foods.
What a fabulous world that would be. No one would ever be intoxicated! Drunkenness would be eliminated. You know, I am reminded of Billy Sunday's 1919 radio address to the nation on the eve of National Prohibition:
The reign of tears is over. The slums will soon be a memory. We will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and corncribs. Men will walk upright now, women will smile and the children will laugh. Hell will forever be rent.
That's the kind of idealism and sobriety that made America great! Unfortunately, although Sunday was himself a moderate drinker as a professional baseball player before becoming a minister, both of his sons became alcoholics. (Explain that genetically.) But note how prescient the good Reverend was about corn.
I have only one anxiety. When everyone is clear-minded, not drinking, never getting intoxicated or whatever, what will we call it when we give children psychiatric stimulants (for ADHD), painkillers, and anti-depressants? This is important because 40 percent of American youth have received a prescription for a psychiatric medication by the time they are 21.
I've got it - we need a new word for drunkenness - let's call it "blissed out." No, too psychedelic. How about "therapied up to the gills?" Or "doctor's little potion?" Or "feeling no pain, unhappiness, or anxiety?" No, that sounds too much like the inserts to the medications we give kids.
Anyone else have a better suggestion?