Wisconsin soldiers who are 19 and 20 would be fined no more than $5 for underage drinking, under a bill lawmakers will likely consider this fall.
The effort by Rep. Mark Pettis (R-Hertel) to loosen underage drinking penalties for soldiers comes just six months after he wrote a bill that would allow 19- and 20-year-olds in the military to drink legally.
This is a wrong-minded attempt to “support the troops” and to reward soldiers by giving them additional rights that non-soldier citizens cannot enjoy or reducing sanction for criminal offenses for soldiers. It runs opposite to what this country stands for, or should stand for, to segregate rights and apportionate them differently to soldiers and non-soldiers. This is a republican democracy, not a platonic Republic.
Understand that this is not an incentive program or a veteran’s affairs allocation of money; it’s changing the law to apply differently to volunteers who passed muster than to those who would not or could not serve. That’s right. Flat feet, poor grades, childhood diseases, or poor eyes would physically prevent some youths from enjoying this privilege right that their more able brethren could enjoy. So a select few would be more equal than the others of the age group.
Also, once we start apportioning rights or diminished sanctions to soldiers, where do we stop? Drinking underage is a victimless crime, but so is soliciting prostitutes. So is using drugs. Keep in mind, gentle reader, I am not saying that our troops are all prostitute-soliciting, drug-abusing drunkards, but those who violate these laws, what’s the principle that would stop lowering the sanction for them? There’s none.
As a libertarianish, I think the 21-year-old drinking age is senseless, and I think that Federal withholding of funds for states who don’t impose state laws according to federal government dicta is unconscionable, but a new wrong won’t make it right.