April 24, 2014

What would Camille Paglia say about Camilla the Duchess's brother?

1. Here's Camille Paglia singing the praises of alcohol. Specifically, she's arguing for lowering the drinking age from 21, which I completely agree with, and I even agree with most of what she says about alcohol's superiority to marijuana (because of its long tradition and its enrichment of the great pleasures of food and conversation). But Paglia goes pretty far. ("Exhilaration, ecstasy and communal vision are the gifts of Dionysus, god of wine. Alcohol’s enhancement of direct face-to-face dialogue is precisely what is needed by today’s technologically agile generation....") It's not that she says nothing about drunkenness. (In fact, she stresses the big problem with the 21-year drinking age: It pushes young people into destructive house-party drinking.) In fact, I've got to say, I pretty much agree with everything she says — including the worry that marijuana "saps energy and willpower and can produce physiological feminization in men."

2. Here's Mark Shand, brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, dead from a door — dead as a doornail, nailed by a door. He was drinking in the posh bar of the Gramercy Park Hotel, which he had to exit, through a revolving door, to smoke a cigarette — the long history of drinking and smoking having been disrupted by the demand that smokers take their disapproved-of habit outdoors. Having left through the revolving door and smoked, it was time to return to his drink, and he never got back in. Somehow the drinking and smoking and door revolving sent him falling onto the sidewalk, forever separated from that drink, gone for good. Is drinking to blame? The law that separates drinking from smoking? The revolution of the door? One more British death in an American revolution. Whatever happened to American freedom, within which a man with a drink and needing a smoke could stay put in his chair and not have to test his alcohol-laden skills in the dangerous door?

40 comments:

Peter said...

""Exhilaration, ecstasy and communal vision are the gifts of Dionysus, god of wine. Alcohol’s enhancement of direct face-to-face dialogue is precisely what is needed by today’s technologically agile generation...."

Alcohol's facility in improving sociability by reducing inhibitions is well-known. BUT it fails at "Exhilaration, ecstasy and communal vision" because it is also a downer, as CNS depressant.

And then there are drunks. The good kind just go to sleep; the bad kind become mean, sometimes vicious.

PB Reader said...

1. Hear, hear! Though, rather than dropping the drinking age, perhaps we should make an argument for INCREASING from 18 to 21 the age for those other activities.

2. Dec 2013, Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the most extensive study on environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) that arrives at the conclusion that the impact is not statistically significant. Of course, all those science worshiping liberals that have exposed their inner totalitarian over smoking aren't likely to embrace it.

madAsHell said...

1. Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.
The 18 year old ladies may have trouble keeping their knees together.

2. Alcohol can lead to unfortunate deaths.

I think this should have been two posts.

tim maguire said...

As for the destructive effects of alcohol, I would add that we live in a society where it is against the law for parents to teach their children to drink responsibility and then we fret and worry about all the kids drinking irresponsibly.

Brando said...

Paglia's completely right as usual. Either the age of majority is 18 or it's 21. End of story, full stop.

Every member of Congress who stands in the way of dropping the drinking age to 18 is nothing more than a puritanical toolbag. For all the Democrats' so called "liberalism" and the Republican's so called "pro-free market" talk, they seem to be able to come together to nanny-state the very people they seem to have no trouble trying as adults and sending off to war. For shame!

Balfegor said...

Revolving doors are a menace and an abomination. They should be banned in public buildings.

People can put them in their houses if they like, but that no one does this testifies to the fact that they are fundamentally anti-human -- the kind of revolting architectural frippery that bloodless modern architects and building commissions love but ordinary flesh and blood humans cannot abide.

Down with revolving doors!

Brian said...

Baiting the pro-marijuana people, eh? Didn't get your fill of pseudo-scientific folklore yesterday?

Amichel said...

I blame the pockets. He had his hands in his pockets, so he wasn't able to protect his head when he started to fall.

rhhardin said...

You have to be upright to enter, with revolving doors.

It's etymologically related to vulva.

Tank said...

Whatever happened to American freedom, within which a man with a drink and needing a smoke could stay put in his chair and not have to test his alcohol-laden skills in the dangerous door?

That freedom was rubbed out the usual nanny types, with the approval of many, many, many people who claim they are for freedom.

rhhardin said...

God himself was done in by the grape owing to the strain of creating everything out of nothing.

An amusing couple of pages if you get the book, as various animals stop by to abuse him.

Tank said...

Paglia:

As a libertarian, I support the decriminalization of marijuana, but there are many problems with pot.

Jesus Christ. Another self-identifying libertarian who is no such thing. Are people idiots? This is why any social science poll or survey or study that relies on people to self report is rubbish.

She voted for the Zero, the biggest big-gov't liberal to ever occupy the Zero House. She's a registered Democrat. Libertarians are not Democrats.

Gaaaaaaa !!!

OKOKOK, calm it down Tank.

gerry said...

I used to smoke but quit twenty-five years ago.

Smoking is a remarkably disgusting and pleasurable habit with serious health consequnences.

Smoking added immensely to my drinking experience, and it was while drinking that I fell off the nonsmoking wagon twice before I was able to quit for good.

All that said, I never resented others smoking when I went into a restaurant or bar to eat or drink: why deprive others of the pleasure because I chose not to continue smoking? And, just as the nutrition gurus may be preaching folklore rather than science, I always though the second-hand smoke puritans were over the top with their concerns.

The main benefit of banning smoking indoors is that the smell is not on my clothes when I get home at evening end.

As for the Duchess's brother, I think his number was up, period, and his fall may have had little to do with smoking and a lot to do with a cerebrovascular accident.

virgil xenophon said...

Agree with Paglia and AA. Having gone to college (grad & undergrad) in Louisiana when the drinking age was 18 and returned to Louisiana in the last two years of the 18 law and a witness to the collegiate bing-drinking brought on by raising the drinking age to 21, I would argue if ever there was a public policy experiment proved wrong (aside from Prohibition itself, Exhibit#1 ) this is surely exhibit#1A

Scott said...

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has taken the position that the historical evidence unequivocally shows a correlation between raising the drinking age from 18 to 21 and a decrease in traffic-related deaths.

Libertarianism holds that a proper role for government is to keep people from hurting each other. Given the evidence, I don't think it's "libertarian" to lower or eliminate the minimum drinking age, unless there's a more effective way to reduce drunk driving by teens.

MayBee said...

"Correlation....and decrease in traffic-related deaths "



Traffic related deaths are down substantially across all ages.

You could probably reduce drunk driving among 29 year olds if you made the drinking age 30.
And surely you could reduce drunk driving by older people if it was illegal to drink after the age of 67.
Of course we wouldn't do that, because that would be taking away something from an adult. But keeping 18+ from being allowed to legally drink does the same thing, it's just that they are too powerless to change it.

Big Mike said...

Author and conservationist Mr Shand was said to be on medication for his blood pressure, which reportedly left him suffering dizzy spells

(1) Depending on the specific blood pressure medication, the mix of alcohol and medications may have exacerbated his tendency towards dizzy spells.

(2) Given his blood pressure issues and absent an autopsy, we need to consider the possibility of his having a myocardial infarction or stroke.

So when Althouse asks "Is drinking to blame? The law that separates drinking from smoking? The revolution of the door?" the answer may be "None of the above."

Ann Althouse said...

"The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has taken the position that the historical evidence unequivocally shows a correlation between raising the drinking age from 18 to 21 and a decrease in traffic-related deaths."

The raising of the drinking age to 21 made the drinking age uniform, removing what had been an incentive for young people to drive across state borders to get to bars where they could drink legally.

You could achieve the same uniformity by making the drinking age 18 everywhere.

Ann Althouse said...

Paglia's line on the drinking & driving point is: "The decrease in drunk-driving deaths in recent decades is at least partly attributable to more uniform seat-belt use and a strengthening of DWI penalties."

Ann Althouse said...

She should have thrown in airbags.

Ann Althouse said...

The fact is, young people still drink, so they still drink and drive, and people who can legally drink also drink and drive.

You can have more targeted remedies for the drinking and driving problem, and the fact is we do!

Æthelflæd said...

You reduce drunk driving in teens the same way you reduce drunk driving in adults. The rates have come down significantly over the last 30 years or so. 21-25 year olds still have the highest rate. Shall we raise the legal drinking age to 26?

Our children are allowed, even encouraged, to partake with us at home. Hopefully this will put a damper on the forbidden fruit aspect of drinking once they leave our house. Plus we are able to help them recognize when they are drinking too fast. It is training in self-control, just like with money, food, or the opposite sex. The current laws make it much harder. I would like to enjoy a margarita with my older teens at the Mexican restaurant.

Also, I still have a hard time understanding why 18 yr olds can vote and join the military, but can't have a glass of wine legally. Bah.

MadisonMan said...

I would add that we live in a society where it is against the law for parents to teach their children to drink responsibility and then we fret and worry about all the kids drinking irresponsibly.

I can take my kid into a bar and get him a drink (he doesn't like beer though). My daughter loves herself some wine. Neither are of legal age.

I do not drive after having imbibed, and my kids know this. Setting a good example is a good way to parent.

The drinking age should be 18, everywhere, but that will never happen because Govt surely doesn't want people anywhere to enjoy something.

holdfast said...

I went to college in a Canadian province where the drinking age was 19 - so some folks become legal frosh year and some sophmore. There was still a lot of binge drinking to oblivion, especially among the frosh - certainly no worse than US schools, but not a panacea either. People away from home, and out from parents' thumbs, are going to go a little wild, regardless of the law. I agree that the age should be 18 (or maybe even lower) - you're either an adult or you're not.

My Dad used to say the driking age should be 15, and the driving age 25. He had a point that it's easier to control who gets a car than who gets a bottle of booze. As I get older I tend to think he's right.

David said...

"(In fact, she stresses the big problem with the 21-year drinking age: It pushes young people into destructive house-party drinking.)"

Someone ought to study the results when and where the drinking age was 18 to test that assumption. Like England, where the drunken young lout population is plentiful.

Æthelflæd said...

BTW, we CAN order a margarita for our teens in public according to state law, but it is like having a glass of wine while pregnant. You had better be ready to deal with the raised eyebrows and questions.

rhhardin said...

Drunk driving as a public problem dates only from the 70s.

Before that it was a personal moral failing.

There's money to be made in the politics.

Discover and take ownership of a new "public problem."

Ref. anything by Joseph Gusfield, a sociologist who specializes in takeovers of the political discourse.

Michael said...

The nanny state's insistence on driving smokers outdoors has fundamentally altered British society by making the Public House a much less desirable place to wile away the hours before closing time. Since the ban on indoor smoking the Pubs have closed at an alarming rate.

The Duchess's brother was clearly smashed.

William said...

Mr. Shand seems to have lived an uncommonly pleasant and privileged life. How many of us have been on Faberge Easter egg hunts and can go to bed secure in the knowledge that we done our utmost to secure the survival of the Asian elephant? Even his untimely death wasn't so bad if you consider he may have been on schedule for a timely stroke.......That whole British Empire thing was done for the benefit of a few thousand county families. I'm glad for their sakes that they got so much happiness and peace of mind out of the experience. I'm not being snarky. Look at what miserable creatures the Politburo and the oligarchs are.

EDH said...

A good start would be to lower the drinking age at certain licensed service establishments (e.g., small bars and restaurants, not mass gatherings like sporting events and concerts).

Lowering the age for full cash-and-carry from liquor stores to age 18 would not be the best way to ease into this.

RecChief said...

If they can't be trusted to drink responsibly at age 18, why are they allowed to vote at age 18?

I would argue that voting irresponsibly at age 18 is more dangerous, to a larger number of people, that drinking irresponsibly at age 18.

cubanbob said...

You reduce drunk driving in teens the same way you reduce drunk driving in adults. The rates have come down significantly over the last 30 years or so. 21-25 year olds still have the highest rate. Shall we raise the legal drinking age to 26?"

Yes indeed. We need one consistent age of majority. Obama and the new communist party have decided for health insurance purposes the age of majority is 27. No drivers licenses or drinking or voting or marriage or marriages or military service or entering contracts until age 27.

mrs.e said...

I’m more concerned about the:
neurological angle.


"I do not drive after having imbibed, and my kids know this. Setting a good example is a good way to parent."

Yes, you are a good parent. Not everyone gets even one of those.

SOJO said...

Looking back, the drinking age being 21 meant that I/we still had to 'sneak' alcohol, and that encourages an I immature mentality that pits you and your friends against a parental world, long after the time has passed to acclimate into that world, that can spill over into other areas of your life.

paul a'barge said...

Don't blame the door.

Blame the sidewalk.

traditionalguy said...

But what was the old Aristocrat bum drinking? And whose wife was he out committing adultery with?

The company Prince Charles keeps makes those fair questions.

phx said...

Alcohol deadens awareness.

Saint Croix said...

Paglia is awesome. This interview is cracking me up.

Jay Vogt said...

Coming home after shifts as a bartender in the '70s I saw a lot of drunk driving and its residue. It was horrific out there at 2:15 AM. It's so much better now. There's plenty of credit to go around for that (enforcement, education, dram shop, etc.). Some of the credit though must go to Hollywood. On TV and in film they stigmatized drunk driving. And while I know that their careless depiction of gun violence can have absolutely no impact on real life human behavior, I will gladly give them credit for helping to diminish drunk driving fatalities.

Croppy Boy said...

I need some of that vagueness now it's all coming back so clearly