From The Times: "When it comes to drinking, it seems, no state keeps pace with Wisconsin. This state, long famous for its breweries, has led the nation in binge drinking in every year since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began its surveys on the problem more than a decade ago. Binge drinking is defined as five drinks in a sitting for a man, four for a woman."
I've stayed relatively silent about this topic for a few reasons. But (you knew there was a "but" coming didn't you?), I have a few issues with this characterization of Wisconsin's "binge drinking" problem. First, let's get the "definition" of binge drinking out of the way: Five drinks in one sitting for a man; four for a woman. What is a sitting? 30 minutes? 1 hour? 3 hours? 7 hours? If I'm sitting at a bar watching a late football game and then stick around for dinner and maybe say hello to some friends, it could easily be "one sitting" from 3pm until 11pm. Five drinks in eight hours? This is a problem? I don't know about you, but I would not be legally drunk after that, provided that the five drinks were relatively low-alcohol beer.
But, that's the second problem with the definition? What's a "drink"? A beer? What kind of beer? Bud Light (about 4% ABV)? Dogfish Head 120 (about 21% ABV)? Wine (12-22% ABV)? Liquor (40-50% ABV)? In their standard serving sizes? We've already talked about that whole ball of wax.
Sure, if I did 5 shots of Jack Daniels in 20 minutes, I might be a bit schnockered and probably shouldn't drive a car 10 minutes later. But, this activity isn't unique to the University of Wisconsin; stupid college students all over the country do this. [ed note: MBR does not endorse this activity - it leads to doing stupid things like drinking 5 more shots in the next 30 minutes, and you don't even want to know about after that - and it sucks to puke your brains out for the next 12 hours] The "problem" that the Times (and the Journal Sentinel) see is this:
Whatever the reason, plenty of Wisconsin people say they need to make no apologies for their fondness for drinking.Namely, that some 31-year old engineering technician is downing "7 or 8" (probably 10) on a weeknight (though which weeknight? Monday Night? Are the Packers on?) and "closer to 12" (probably 15-18) on the weekends.
“I work 70, 80 hours a week, and sometimes I just want to relax,” said Luke Gersich, 31, an engineering technician, who drank a Miller as he watched the Monday Night Football game at Wile-e’s tavern. On a weeknight, he said he might drink seven or eight beers. On a weekend, it might be closer to 12.
A football day? Is he at home or a bar? Did he drive? Did he neglect his children? Is it every day or just a few times a month?
I'm not making excuses, I'm just saying that this article is fairly imprecise in its language. And we all know how much I hate imprecise language.
If it doesn't affect anyone (including the drinker), who cares? The problem is when this person does his drinking at a bar and drives home. The problem is when this person goes to a Packers game 3 hours away from where he lives and has no option but to drive home. The problem is when this person goes home and beats his wife or children. The problem is when this person can't make it through a day without getting drunk.
As much as the Madison City Council would like you to believe otherwise, the solution is not prohibition. The solution is allowing random alcohol checkpoints (currently "unconstitutional" in this state). The solution is viable public transportation alternatives (not raising the fare on an impractical and nonsensical bus system). The solution is harsher penalties for alcohol-related crimes. The solution is better alcohol counseling and family abuse prevention.
The solution is not taking your ball and going home.