If This Column Saves Just One Life...

« March 2005 »

Memo to Morrie Lanning: YOU ARE DUMB.

Local politics is a lot like potatoes. You don't think about them much. Tend to ignore them for a long time. And then, when you finally DO look at them, they've turned into a noxious black goop that makes you gag.

And so it is with Minnesota state government. While the governor tries to slap a casino downtown, Michele Bachmann tries to save the world from rampaging liberal professors and long-term homosexual relationships, and someone, somewhere, is still working on a stadium deal, Morrie Lanning is out to put a stop to "power hour". And when I say "put a stop to", I mean "postpone slightly".

Power Hour is not, as you might suspect, a cable access televangelism show. Apparently, Power Hour begins at midnight on someone's 21'st birthday, the point at which it is legal for them to consume the same alcoholic beverages they've been sneaking for the past eight years. So, during Power Hour, these newly emancipated adults drink. A lot. And a guy in Moorhead died, so Lanning, Moorhead's representative, has stepped forward to do something about the practice.

His bill would, you see, make it illegal for 21 year old people to drink between midnight and 8 a.m. on the day of their 21st birthday. It is a stroke of unparallelled brilliance masquerating as the blind, ineffective flailings of a dipshit. And the disguise is so perfect, nobody will ever know the truth, thanks to the clever misdirections from Lanning like the following. ACTUAL POWER QUOTE HOUR!

"It isn't going to prevent it from happening, but if this legislation keeps one person from losing his or her life, then it's worth it. - If it's not going to stop Power Hour from happening, then it's not going to save any fucking lives, is it? What kind of standard is that for legislation? "It's completely ineffective, but there's a chance it might work by accident, so let's go ahead and pass it!"

Nevermind the whole "If it saves just one life" canard. I'm so tired of that. One life saved is not some kind of cost/benefit trump card. It's not a magic wand you can wave around and make your idea suddenly unretarded. From now on, every time you hear that coming out of someone's gaping maw, you should respond with "Well, what if if saves a serial killer's life?" Not to get an honest answer out of them, because people these days are immune to logic, but merely for the joy of the five second deer-in-headlights moment you'll create.

What I love most about this proposed legislation is the way it completely ignores the fact that "Power Hour" is an artifact created directly as a result of having a legal drinking age in the first place. It's just human nature. The instant you can do something society's been keeping you from doing, you're gonna do it, and do it a lot. It's why "honeymoon" and "fucking a lot" are so universally entwined in our culture. It's an unavoidable side effect of any kind of puritan repression. It doesn't matter what year, or what time of day, the transition from "can't drink" to "can drink" happens. Move the time and the rite will move along with it.

It's not like Power Hour is some centuries-old venerated tradition. It's mutable. Lanning apparently believes, assuming the law is even remotely enforceable, that Minnesota's twenty-year-olds will decide that if they can't drink themselves to death at midnight on their birthday, that they may as well not bother drinking themselves to death at all. Which is patently ridiculous.

Of course, it'll probably pass. That's the fun thing about politics. Basically, you could oppose a bill like this on one of two grounds. The first is that it's stupid and ineffective, and the second is that you're 20 years old and have already planned your binge death party. I'll give you one guess as to which position garners more sympathy with the general public. Here's a hint - it's the one that's already reserved the big booth at Applebee's. Or is saying things like this:

"A lot of people I know ended up puking when they did their power hour, and then their actual birthday was ruined. You're 21 when you turn 21 ... I know I am going out on my 21st birthday." - Nick Milanowski, who is studying micro-no-really-biology at the University of Minnesota. Upon reading this sentence, Whitney Houston built a time machine, traveled to 1984, and stopped herself from recording "The Greatest Love of All". Now Whitney Houston is loose and tampering with history, and it's ALL MORRIE LANNING'S FAULT.