Drinking! At 20!

Every once in a while along comes a reminder that the United States labors under an absolutely insane alcohol-regulation regime. For example, via Sommer comes an article about how San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsome has a twenty year-old girlfriend. Except that’s not actually what the article is about. Instead, it’s about whether or not his twenty year-old girlfriend has . . . consumed alcohol.

It’s not about whether she’s been on drunken binges. It’s not about whether she’s driving drunk. It’s not about whether she’s an alcoholic. It’s about whether she — a twenty year-old, old enough to drive, to vote, to join the military, to have a full-time job, to be dating the mayor of major American city — sometimes drinks alcohol. As in “Photos of Mountz holding a wine glass during the opening of the new Westfield San Francisco Shopping Center, where Newsom also made an appearance, raised some eyebrows.” Seriously? That raised an eyebrow. An adult woman holding a wine glass at a celebratory event? I know, I know, maybe she was just holding it for a friend. Otherwise she’s a hardened criminal. Just like me and, well, everyone I know.

UPDATE: Mark Kleiman’s American Interest article on drug regulation is chock full ‘o ideas, but has one proposal that’s particularly on point:

If someone is convicted of drunken driving, or drunken assault, or drunken vandalism, or repeatedly of drunk and disorderly conduct — if, that is, someone demonstrates that he is either a menace or a major public nuisance when drunk — then why not revoke his (or, much more rarely, her) drinking license? […] A ban on drinking by bad drinkers (unlike the current ban on drinking by those under 21) would have an obvious moral basis. Evading it, for example by buying liquor for someone on the “Do Not Drink” list, would be clearly wrong and worth punishing.


That would make much more sense, wouldn’t it?