I also wrote this article at University for our student paper, Exeposé, in response to a succession of what I saw as alarmist anti-binge-drinking articles. I’m not sure I agree with everything I said in those days but I think the overall sentiment still stands. They printed it and it was nice when a couple people congratulated me on it over the next week.
Cruizin’ for a boozin’
Martin Jee, drink-sodden-popinjay-in-chief, laments the decline of alcoholism in this fair and pleasant land
THE lack of rationale and sincerity in the last Exeposé was a little disconcerting. We, as university students are literally the cream of British intelligence, and our behaviour (both academic and social) is not without logic. The recent Exeposé arguments on binge-drinking however, have been. As far as I can tell their case against binge-drinking goes as follows: “Binge-drinking is bad for your health and social life, and therefore it is bad, de facto.” If they would look at these articles again, with fresh eyes; they might realise that their argument is entirely fallacious and go off and write something sensible or funny for us to read. They might even realise their argument actually produces an effect that is counter-productive for their holier-than-thou crusade. Sorry? What’s this, you mean binge-drinking is good for me? Surely not! Have you not heard of the tragic and lethal consequences of drinking more alcohol than your body can take? No you condescending pinko-lefty, drinking is much deeper than that.
OK then, let me take the ignorant and naïve through the counter-argument: Number one: drinking intoxicating beverages is actually an integral part of European culture, certainly youth culture. This is because drinking is never about drinking for the sake of getting drunk (even when the drinker purports otherwise) but it is for the purpose of getting to know ourselves and each other better. If drinking was simply about getting pissed, would there be any need for tables in pubs? Or music? Tables turn uncomfortably empty rooms into cosy cluttered ones, they provide a simple structure for the arrangement of conversation and they allow one to pace oneself by providing a resting place for drinks to be placed upon. Music played in pubs fills in the gaps between our conversations, provides conversational points, and cultural of points of reference around which we can identify each other with. Pubs are the true centres of British culture, so much more important than churches or town halls. I have no scientific evidence for this, but I believe drinking relaxes people and the social situations in which they find themselves. It loosens the tongue and tightens the wit. This makes drinking attractive for freshers, or anyone for that matter who finds themselves in the daunting social situation of having to make friends. In short: alcohol is the oil of lubrication that allows the youthful to overcome their own social inexperience.
Number two: experimentation with the body is entirely natural. In this day where vibrators are freely available on the high street, no-one could doubt it. So what is wrong with experimentation with alcohol? Contrary to what the nanny-state fascists would tell you, every Briton knows that drinking too much alcohol will get you drunk. That doesn’t stop us, not because we don’t appreciate the physical dangers of too much alcohol, but because as young people we are inexperienced with our bodies and want to know just how far they can be pushed. I would like to point out that amazingly after the first year the desire to binge-drink is abated; not simply because our finances run out, but because as students of life (as well as history / biology / economics) we slowly learn the social skills that enable ourselves to make and maintain friendships without the aid of intoxication.
Finally, in this nanny-state in which we are bound in swaddling clothes from our birth until the coffin is nailed shut; we have but few freedoms remaining. The freedom to do with our bodies as we wish is the natural freedom of man, but now New Labour want to constrict even this freedom. Not by laws, but by propaganda, sustained and insidious. This is a government of fads, its new hobbyhorse just happens to be the terror of binge-drinking; but binge-drinking is actually an ancient cultural phenomenon, to which every British generation is veteran. New Labour has chosen fear, not reason, as the means by which to change our culture: we now drive in fear of speeding fines, go to work in fear of terrorists, and now we must fear our own bodies, fear our ability to make our own choices, fear the very act of socialisation that helps us to settle in to a new university. And now I find that Exeposé partakes in this propaganda assault as well? Has begun to write patronising tosh about fictionary characters called “Juliet” in copy-cat attempts to scare us into modifying our drinking habits? Pathetic.
So in conclusion: binge-drinking stems from our own cultural heritage, exists primarily in young adults due to their physical and social inexperience, and has been exacerbated by the attempts of the powers-that-be to constrain our freedoms. We as young adults hereby defend our right to drink as much as we damn well please and shout boisterously in one true voice: “CHEERS!”