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The Sun went overboard with Gansler stories

The daily parsing by The Sun of every aspect of Attorney General Doug Gansler's recent troubles since the story broke about a teen party he attended in Delaware has been relentless and tiresome, and you outdid your editorial selves by even publishing a letter by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, of all people ("RNC chairman: Gansler failed as a parent and a public official," Oct. 29). Readers might expect the dripping hypocrisy of him and his ilk, but otherwise objective readers might conclude that The Sun must have a stake in Mr. Gansler's political future (demise?), his being from Montgomery County and not being Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and all that.

But leaving parochialism aside, what seems to be lacking in all the newsprint is an examination of why society outlaws alcohol consumption by the same 18-20 year olds who can vote, serve on juries, obtain any number of professional licenses, play on professional sports teams, drive trucks, fly airplanes, buy guns, be prosecuted as adults, and yes kill and be killed in the nation's wars.

Who among us does not routinely drive 70 mph or more in a 60 mph zone, realizing it is unlawful but also knowing full well that no cop is going to waste his/her time stopping us? When society passes laws which most people ignore, then respect for law in general is diminished. The same applies to archaic alcohol laws, which declare and affirm that 18 year olds cannot have a beer but allow and even require all the above and more.

Perhaps Mr. Gansler was a bit clumsy in trying to explain his way out of his predicament, but what parent hasn't made similar accommodations? Of course alcoholism is rampant and no one wants to see drunken teenagers on the highways, but isn't that another issue entirely? One might even think that the right wing "government is the problem" types would be championing a re-examination of this socialistic assault on personal freedoms, but we shall not hold our breaths.

Here's a thought: Why do we grant drivers' licenses to 16 year olds, despite statistics which show they are among the worst drivers on the roads? Why not lower the drinking age to 18, as most of the civilized world has done, but raise the driving age to 18 (allowing for limited hardship exceptions)? Then there would be no confusion or head-scratching: You turn 18, you are an adult, with all the privileges and responsibilities appertaining.

Richard E. Wachter, Baltimore

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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