Review Editorial Deeply Flawed

To the Editors:

While going about my business this Saturday as I normally do, I happened to read your staff editorial on “binge drinking” at Oberlin, and was knocked (metaphorically) ass-over-teakettle by its implication that people who like to drink several nights a week — people such as myself, I will confess with disarming frankness —“have a problem.” In a masterful display of rhetorical power and force, the piece begins “Monday night: pitchers at the Inn. Tuesday night: quarter beers. Wednesday night: any special at the Feve.” Well, first of all, Wednesday night at the Feve is actually any special except Friday’s — get your facts straight, you bunch of tea-sippers! As one reads past this tautly dramatic opening, though, it transpires that the article’s main argument concerns the presence of a drinking problem at Oberlin. Citing not only a survey but the above-mentioned alarming availability of alcohol for purchase right here on campus, the writer points to the most damning feature of all this debauchery: It is, in many cases, legal! “There is nothing stopping a 22-year-old senior from getting a case of PBR and splitting it with their [sic] off-campus housemate.” Don’t I know it! Not content with defiling the clear well of the English language, though, the writer informs me of how many drinks I’m allowed to have before it constitutes binge drinking — only four, although it doesn’t say how big I get to make them.
On closer examination, however, I found that an even deeper flaw in logic lies at the heart of this puzzling editorial. The writer complains about students going to the Feve bar or the Inn too often, but binge drinking is really about getting really drunk and maybe puking every time you drink. If I get moderately pickled every night of my life, I’m not a “binge drinker” — I’m a functional alcoholic! And that has the word “functional” in it. But I like to think that those of us who behave in this supposedly deplorable fashion are more than just functional alcoholics; we’re wits, raconteurs and intellectual conversationalists who discuss the great questions of our day with a Goldschlager-fuelled fire and intensity rarely equaled among the more sober population. If the reader demands a worthier example than myself, I need only point to such charming individuals as Lynn Whitney Kaighin-Shields and Cynthia Taylor, who remarked to me as I was writing this letter that “Faulkner was an alcoholic; Danielle Steel is not.”
The editorial concludes with the prediction that college juniors will drink less next year because the movement of many students back to campus will provide more supervision for them. That may be so — I suspect I have more faith in mankind than the Review editorial board does — but, God willing, I will pass my classes as scheduled and won’t be around to observe such a distressing state of affairs.

–Emily Bartlett Hines
College senior

April 19
April 26

site designed and maintained by jon macdonald and ben alschuler :::