Rights of Passage

Within the United States of America, what you are allowed to do greatly depends on your age. Your age dictates the rights, opportunities, and allowances available to you. There are specific policies, rules, and regulations in place that are directly dependent upon the age of those to which these laws apply. To lawmakers, age coincides with maturity levels, and yet the laws they perpetuate contradict this ideology.

One example of this standard in practice can be seen in regards to the legal driving age of American citizens. You are not allowed to drive until the age of 16, at which point you are afforded the privilege of a driver’s license and considered to be responsible enough to operate a heavy and fast moving vehicle such as cars, trucks, and even school buses full of children. The privilege of driving is given to 16-year-olds because lawmakers deem them mature and responsible enough to handle the responsibility of implementing safe driving habits.

In contrast, the District of Columbia recently changed the laws that regulate the legal purchasing age of tobacco products. D.C. now requires that you be at least 21 years of age or older to purchase tobacco products, strictly because lawmakers agree that persons under the age of 21 are not cognitively mature enough or responsible enough to decide their tobacco habits for themselves. To me, it is ironic that legislators trust a 16-year-old individual with the operation of a heavy piece of machinery on roadways full of families and fellow citizens whereas they can’t trust a 20-year-old individual with the right to buy tobacco.

Furthermore, it astonishes me that current laws would allow an 18-year-old to join the Armed Forces, risk their lives, and go to war while that same individual is not afforded the right to buy or consume alcohol or tobacco products. It is almost as if they are saying, “You can be a patriot and go fight and die for your country, of course. However, you can’t drink a beer or smoke a cigarette! You’re not old enough for that kind of decision.”

These bizarre comparisons make me question whose priorities on which these laws are based upon. According to current legislation, an 18-year-old is considered capable of making the decision to die for their country while they are considered incapable of making the decision to smoke a cigarette or having a drink of alcohol. The irony speaks for itself.

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One Response to “Rights of Passage”

  1. Anonymous
    April 26, 2017 at 6:13 PM #

    Anonymous author AGAIN! How do you feel about anonymous commenters? I am sure you dislike them. It is the same way. We dislike anonymous writers!

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