Cheeseheads and Wine


In Pennsylvania, according to that state's Liquor Control Board, "It is against the law to sell or give alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 21–even your own children." Many other states have similar policies, insisting that people should not touch a drop of alcohol, even under parental supervision, until they turn 21, whereupon they are expected to automatically know how to drink responsibly.

Wisconsin takes a different approach. Although the state's alcohol purchase age is 21 (a requirement for receiving federal highway money), people accompanied by parents or over-21 spouses are still allowed to drink alcoholic beverages in bars and restaurants. But as The American Spectator's Theodora Blanchfield notes, Wisconsin would take a step toward Pennsylvania-style zero tolerance under a bill sponsored by state Rep. John Ainsworth:

Under the current version of the Republican lawmaker's proposed legislation, Bill 72, the law would be changed to allow only those who have reached that magical age of 18 to have a drink with their parents outside the home. An earlier version of the bill was even more restrictive–it would have criminalized parent-supervised underaged drinking at home, raising questions of how deeply the government should entangle itself in private life.

Blanchfield reports that editorial opinion seems to be on Ainsworth's side. According to The Wausau Daily Herald, "parents who take children out drinking aren't responsible and do need common sense transfusions."

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  1. Sometimes the French have a point when they claim to be more civilized.

  2. Parents who encourge their 18 year olds to enlist and go die for our country “aren’t responsible and do need common sense transfusions” if we are truly concerned about the welfare of our children.

  3. yeah — but the cheezheadz need to drink because of the packers.

    oh wait. i need a drink too.

    from chicago,
    faux news reporting for hit and run.

  4. Just think. If 17 year old “children” can have a beer with Dad, that takes all the fun out of getting a false ID and going to a kegger with the other teenagers.

    Can’t have that.

  5. My father never took me out drinking to a bar, but he did give me a beer while we were fishing when I was about 15. Normaly when we were fishing, absolute silence was maintained so as not to scare the fish! This day, fishing and the beer came with lengthy conversation about drinking responsibly. It took about 7 or 8 years for what he said to sink in – I got the point not long after college.

    It was a good lesson even if it took close to a decade to sink in. How should that be illegal.

  6. which side of the Aisle is for this bullshit? was it the Dems or the Reps in the 80s? what about now? (Ainsworth is indeed a Republican, but in general)

    oh yes, for the children. wine = aid to terror (through france), beer = aid to terror (through germany).

    i see.

    doot doot.

  7. No doubt these states will want to round up all the Episcopalian, etc. clergy who have been passing around the communion cup to minors. (Egad, could this be a Baptist conspiracy or the result of pressure from the Welch’s Grape Juice lobby?)

  8. These columns are driving me to drink!

    Good thing I have a 16 yo designated driver!

  9. What about religious alcohol? If a Catholic priest rapes a little boy, that’s apparently a private matter for the church to worry about, but if that little boy drinks communion wine then somebody’s going to go to jail?

    On a personal note, I think I drank more alcohol in the twelve months before my twenty-first birthday than I have in the twelve years after it.

  10. I remember being very young and my dad letting me sample his beer because I was curious. It tasted like shit (Iron City).

    I’m 34 now, but I wonder if I can have him arrested retroactively? Is there some way I can sue the brewry (or someone else if they are out of business)? I need closure.

  11. Ooh, they can do a common sense transfusion now? I wonder who they’re using as a donor?

  12. don’t worry Jennifer A, there’s always the big bash you can throw in january for your next birthday (to commerate responsible drinking, of course)

    with plenty of product from my former company.

  13. Citizen-
    Maybe its not really a transfusion, possibly more like a computer chip planted in the brain downloading the works of Thomas Paine.

  14. In Wisconsin drinking is just part of the culture. Beer is served everywhere, all the time. Every block party, church festival, fair, sporting event, etc. I grew up there back when the drinking age was 18. We were going to bars (mostly to see punk rock bands, not to drink) by age 16. Rarely got carded, and when I was, I pulled out a flimsy paper drivers license that didn’t even feature a photograph that my friend’s big brother gave me. Brown hair, brown eyes, okay!

    Our parents would host parties for us. They didn’t want us out driving around and drinking, so they would buy the beer and supervise the party, anyone too loaded had to stay overnight.

    It was lots of fun in a wholesome, inebriated kind of way. Nobody got hurt, everone grew up.

    Many western states are the extreme opposite. I went to a county fair in Idaho a few years ago and just about died of thirst….

  15. Why can’t people figure out that if you make an activity people want to do – will probably do anyway – forbidden, it makes it more attractive *and* more dangerous?

    If we behaved like reasonable grown-ups about booze (like maybe we did a generation or two ago) kids probably wouldn’t go through that desperate binge drinking phase that’s a fixture of the late teens/early 20s.

  16. If the state wants to raise our children, then let them pay for the clothing, food, college, new car, etc.

    What rights do parents have anymore these days, what with the laws against violent movies and video games, laws against dicipline, lawsuits holding parents responsable for what their kids download, laws against kids viewing pornography, and now laws against parents letting their teens drink after graduation or the prom etc.

    Whos fucking kids are they these days, mine or the states??

    nevermind, dont answer that

  17. Although I have since moved, I lived in Pennsylvania for almost two years. In none of the four other places in the United States that I have lived have I seen ANYWHERE CLOSE to the amount of (1) solitary drinking and (2) afternoon drinking.

    Having grown up in neighboring New Jersey, the difference was like night and day.

    So much for the enlightened state using paternalistic laws to engrain virtue upon its citizens!

  18. Leave it to those pussy Quakers…

  19. Huh, it’s the afternoon and I’m in Conshohocken PA. Why aren’t I drinking?

    Well, just give me 10 minutes to meet up with my co-workers!

  20. When I was 5 I wanted to smoke, drink and chew.

    So my dad bought me a pouch of chew, a big cigar, and a bottle of beer. The chew burned my tongue, the smoke made me choke, and the beer was horrible.

    Later when peer pressure had me trying those things again I couldn’t help but feel stupid trying to enjoy something I knew I didn’t like. It wasn’t until after college when I could afford good beer that I broke that part of the conditioning.

  21. While I can appreciate any states attempt at relief from this rigid 21 nonsense, even 18 is too high an age.

    ~17 states allow a prosecutor to seek a death sentence for a crime commmitted by someone when they were 16, ~6 more only allow for it at 17.
    So in ~23 states a 17 year old is eligible for the electric chair, but not a chair at the bar.

    No state has a problem trying 14 year olds as
    adults, Florida had no problem trying a 12 year old as one and sentencing him to life in prison without parole.

    16 year olds aren’t too young to face the same penalties as adults when it comes to DUI, but they are too young to drink with those adults.

    If they’re to be held fully accountable for their actions, then society has no moral or logical right to deny them full rights and priveleges.

    Even when not being tried as adults, teens face penalties equal to, or greater then, adults convicted of the same offense.

    Mike Males coined this illogical concept, “Child when convenient, adult when convenient.”

    It’s high time this nonsense came to an end.

  22. You can’t trust anyone over 30.

    And you can’t trust anyone under 21.

    And most prison inmates are jailed in their twenties.

    So you can’t trust nobody.

  23. In PA we’re too busy trying to wrest the sale of alcohol from the grips of a state monopoly; we don’t have time to worry about the drinking age yet.

  24. I lived in (West) Germany when I was 16 — drank beer fairly often. Never got drunk, never saw the two other kids around my age in the family I lived with get drunk either, nor the other schoolkids my age that we occasionally drank with. The father DID get drunk once — at Oktoberfest in Munich, and we took the train back to the friends we were staying with. I guess the point is obvious to everyone at this site — there is clearly a way to teach your kids to drink responsibly.

  25. I just started law school in Pa and we had a session in our criminal law class about this very subject. Like most states, Pa recognizes “de minimis non curat lex”–the law cares nothing for trifles. In other words, parents won’t be prosecuted for allowing their kids to taste of beer or a sip of wine, but would prosecute the parent who filled the baby bottle with vodka.

  26. Rep. John Ainsworth (R-Shawano), is chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee. He represents the 6th district, northwest of Green Bay.

    Sad to say, neo-prohibitionist attitudes on alcohol are prevailing even in a state with Wisconsin’s proud brewing tradition. The legislature recently caved on the switch from .1 to .08 as the DUI standard, in order to avoid forfeiting federal highway funds. Never mind that those doing real damage driving drunk are typically blowing way over .1, and when someone is hauled in for killing someone while driving drunk, they are almost always repeat offenders who never got serious punishment previously, are driving with a revoked license, and otherwise proving that the state does a lousy job of keeping the worst violators off the road. The important thing is for a legislator to keep on the good side of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, which requires constant tweaking of the alcohol use/abuse laws, in order to prove that one is “doing something.”

    A suburban/exurban/rural Republican can be as big a suck-up to the scared-mommy-voter as any Democrat, especially if representing a swing district. The bill in question may just molder in committee, but this stuff tends to return again and again until it gets passed.

    Kevin (in Milwaukee)

  27. My daughter is NOT going to learn to drink beer from the guys at the frat house.

    Sometimes the law is an ass. But you alreay knew that.

    BTW, the intent of the 21 drinking age was not to keep 18 year olds from drinking, but to keep them from giving alcohol to their 15 year old friends. Some “hand-downs” were assumed when the law was written.

  28. Greg,

    You say that “law cares nothing for trifles”. Ideally, no it wouldn’t, but we live in America, where you can get 20 years for smoking one too many joints!!!

  29. EMAIL:

    DATE: 12/10/2003 07:36:07
    Do give books – religious or otherwise – for Christmas. They’re never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.

  30. EMAIL:
    DATE: 12/20/2003 10:48:53
    It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.

  31. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/08/2004 10:14:10
    Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.

  32. EMAIL:
    DATE: 05/19/2004 04:58:35
    You are free and that is why you are lost.

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