When you turn 18 you are expected to grow up. You are turned out into the adult world and you are expected to make your own way…. You have many choices.
Get a job — join the workforce and become a contributing member of society. Or go to college — higher education is calling. Or you can join the military and fight for our country. Get married, have children, travel the world. Don’t forget to vote — you are now responsible for helping the rest of us choose the leadership for our nation.
You are now of the adult world, and we expect you to behave like one. And yes, you will be tried as an adult if you commit a crime.
Oh, but one thing… you are still just a kid! You can’t drink!
In this business of criminal law, I see a lot of clients who are classified as MIPs. Minors in possession. The 18-20 set, who get caught consuming alcohol. They are the easy arrest, after all. They are the bread and butter of my business, but I am telling you that this is nonsense.
We have created an entire class of criminals by setting what I see are arbitrary limitations on adults aged 18-20. Why have we categorized these three years of adulthood as “minor” in this one regard, when we expect 18-20 year-olds to be adults in every other way?
A few years ago, NPR did a story on underage drinking on college campus featuring John McCardell, former president of Middlebury College, a driving force behind a movement to change the drinking age back to 18.
“You know, the reality is that alcohol is a part of the lives of 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds,” McCardell told NPR. “We can deny it, we can try to legislate it away, but in fact, it is a presence.”
We are not going to change the fact 18, 19, and 20 year-old adults are going to drink with their peers. It’s why my business continues to grow.
I bring all this up now because of a ridiculous ordinance that has been proposed to the New Orleans City Council by Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson, who just might be a little out of touch at 77 years old. Clarkson has suggested raising the admittance age to bars in New Orleans to 21 years old, which would mean that people we classify as adults in every other way no longer can see live music in the clubs of New Orleans. Read the student take in the Tulane Hullabaloo.
Clarkson’s proposal is a knee-jerk response to the spiraling violent crime rate in New Orleans. Her logic is that by banning 18, 19, and 20 year-old clubgoers from the clubs, underage drinking will cease, and all the bad people of the world will stay at home and off the streets.
I think it’s sticking our head in the sand to pretend that the New Orleans murder rate has any attachment to the patrons of nightclubs. MIPs are an easy ticket for cops, a good fundraiser for city coffers, and an easy scapegoat for crime rates. But c’mon, Jackie…. we’re going to have to work a little harder than that to effect true change on the violent crime rate of New Orleans.