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BY DI READERS | OCTOBER 17, 2013 5:00 AM

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Re: 21-ordinance is human-rights violation

There are all kinds of age-based laws and regulations restricting those underage from, among other things, getting married, driving cars, buying guns, performing in porn videos, purchasing cigarettes — and yes, alcohol. None is considered a human-rights violation.

Bars are in the business of profiting from the sale of alcohol. Those under 21 are legally prohibited from buying, possessing, or consuming alcohol. The logical, and most easily administered, standard would be to prohibit anyone under 21 from ever entering a bar, as is the standard in many places.

Instead, Iowa City lives with a compromise that enables bar owners to profit maximize, and those who cannot legally purchase what they have to sell to be in bars for 20 out of every 24 hours each day. Those under 21 are only kept out of bars from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Its scarcely “21-only.”

It seems to me the City Council’s approach is exceedingly generous to bar owners and their illegally binge drinking students alike, not something either should be protesting.

And since the author raised the “no one over 50 in bars after 10” example, nor is it a denial of my human rights as an old geezer that I have to get my driver’s license renewed more often than my middle-age children do. Someday, it may be forcefully taken from me. The state has a right to determine if my driving puts at risk my own safety and that of others.

As John Neff has noted, “The age dependence of hazardous use of alcohol decreases much faster than a Constant/Age with most of the problems in the 15 to 25 age range. The peak age is about 19, so 21 is a reasonable compromise for the minimum legal age to drink.” In short, that’s why the legal drinking age is 21. It, like limitations on my driving, is designed to minimize the risk of harm underage drinkers pose to themselves and others.

Meanwhile, 21 remains the legal drinking age. John Deeth has endeavored (earlier on these pages and elsewhere) to make the case for lowering the drinking age to 18. But until he persuades the Congress and Iowa Legislature of his position, (1) keeping those under 21 out of bars is logical, (2) permitting them in bars until 10 p.m. is generous, and (3) leaving them there until 2 a.m. is just asking for trouble — the trouble we got the last time we tried.

Nicholas Johnson

I am looking forward to those who need the government to tell them what to do to chime in on this topic. If I’m a 20-year-old in Iowa City, and I want to visit a bar, I should be able to. If I partake in illegal activity, I must understand those ramifications and take full personal responsibility. But that’s my choice. The Iowa City City Council should have very little say in where an adult can and cannot spend time. But it has the full right to enforce the consequences.

Erick T. Jarks


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