These signs have consistently pissed me off: the legal age for the purchase of alcohol in thos country is 18, not 21. If I look under 18, then I fully expect to be asked to prove my age; but I should not have to prove that I am 21, only 18. Now, there may be utterly reasonable reasons for IDing people who look under 21—it might be easier to tell those who are 21 than 18, for instance (although not in my case)—but it is still pretty fucking insulting.
This "under 21" scheme is not a retailer-organised scheme as far as I can tell; the labels and signage are all the same, so I assume that it is a government initiative imposed "voluntarily" on retailers. These signs have been gently conditioning the population to believe that they need to be 21 in order to buy alcohol.
So, you can imagine the total lack of surprise with which I greeted this story.
The age for buying alcohol from supermarkets and off-licences in Scotland could rise from 18 to 21.
Scottish ministers said it was time for radical action in the fight against Scotland's binge drinking culture.
But retailers and student leaders said the plan, which would see 18-year-olds still being served in pubs, was "confusing" and a "blunt instrument".
And so the infantilisation of the population continues.
Look, you Jock fuckwits, listen to what you are saying: you maintain that Scotland has a "binge-drinking culture". It's a cultural thing, you fucking numb-nuts; making alcohol harder to purchase has not actually stopped the number of kids getting pissed—in fact, the numbers have risen consistently. Telling people that it is illegal to do this or that does not make it any less desirable.
Second, as far as I am concerned, if you are allowed to get a job at 16, to join the Army at 16, get married at 16, you should be able to buy booze and cigarettes at 16 too. And, as The Englishman points out, the SNP now want to give 16 year olds the vote.
Parliament minister Bruce Crawford said yesterday: "It is the responsibility of us all to get young people interested in the democratic process.
"We cannot on the one hand say we are interested in the views of young people while on the other refusing them access to the ballot box until they are 18.
"While 16-year-olds can pay taxes, get married or serve in the armed forces, they effectively have to bite their lip when it comes to decisions that will affect them.
"At the very point that society expects young people to assume many of the responsibilities that come with adulthood, it is only right they also get the right to vote.
"That is why I am happy to announce the Scottish government's support for reducing the voting age to 16."
So, 16 year olds are old enough to "pay taxes, get married or serve in the armed forces" and, apparently, decide for whom to vote, but they are not old enough to make a mature decision about cigarettes and alcohol.
Can we get a bit of consistency here, please?
UPDATE: Chris Dillow treats this alcohol proposal with the contempt it deserves.
In this, we see four aspects of the modern managerialist ideology of the law:
- Paternalism. The function of the state is no longer to protect people from each other, but rather to protect people from themselves. Indeed, it’s to enforce an “ideal” of what people should be - self-controlled, upright prigs. This represents a flat contradiction - which, ideologically, is rarely made explicit - of centuries of political theory. Needless to say, the Tories share this ideology.
- “Tough on the causes of crime.” Binge drinking, say defenders of this move, causes crime - and the causes of crime should themselves be crimes.
This is an ideological claim in two senses. First, because it presumes that disorderly behaviour can be eliminated at source by straightening the crooked timber of humanity. It does not recognize that we’ll always misbehave, and that the response to this should be to uphold ancient laws against being drunk and disorderly; the idea that the police should do their job has long been abandoned.
Second, it takes a selective view of the causes of crime. One big cause is poverty; only economic illiterates deny this. And yet the soft-headed left is notably lax about eliminating poverty.
- It delegates fighting crime to business. It’s retailers who will have to police this law, just as businesses are expected to police anti-immigration laws. The distinction between private and public sector functions is thus blurred.
- Selective enforcement. Picture the scene. A lairy gang wanting to get even more tanked up go into a shop to buy a few cases of Stella. Does the store manager really risk a fight and a big loss of sales by stopping them?
No. He‘s far more likely to pick on the solitary 20-year old wanting to buy a bottle of wine for his mum.
Decent people are thus victimized by a collaboration between two cowardly bullies—the state and business—whilst potential criminals go free.
Do go and read the whole thing. In his measured way, Chris bitch-slaps this proposal quite comprehensively but then comes to an odd conclusion.
Personally, I'd just like to add the following: "fuck off, you illiberal, paternalist wankers."