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lay off my booze!
tired of the villainization of alcohol
by erik lars myers (@TopFermented)
pop culture

The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.

There. I said it.

And no. I didn't mean it. But neither did Mel Gibson.

My excuse is satire. But that hardly stands up to good ol' Mel's excuse: Alcohol.

Recently, when Mark Foley resigned from his position in Congress because of his penchant for cybersex with congressional pages, he announced that he was checking himself into rehab for ... you guessed it .. alcoholism and "other behavioral problems."

And here's where I get indignant. Here's where I say, "What do you think you're looking at, sugartits?" When did alcohol -- good ol' "helping ugly people get laid since 1865" alcohol -- get all these mystical powers? When did it start making people do stuff?

Can someone let me know which brand that is? Because I want to stay away from it.

Let me take a step back. Alcoholism is a very real and serious disease. An addiction to alcohol can have severe long-term health effects, and, unlike a lot of other drugs, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can actually be fatal. It has even be shown that there is a genetic disposition toward alcoholism (and opiate addiction -- same gene). It is important that alcohol be consumed responsibly and in moderation.

Alcohol should also not be mixed with medications or other drugs. Remember your chemistry class when you put liquid from Beaker A into powder in Flask B and the result was something nasty? Smoke? Fire? Well, that's the same kind of risk you run mixing pills and booze. They're all chemicals, after all. How do you know what they'll do?

But look -- alcohol is not a mind control device. It doesn't open up the sluice gates of your brain to the insidious invisible aliens orbiting the earth, who are secretly trying to tell us what to do. It won't make you do things you hadn't already considered. It might impair your logic, it might lower your inhibitions, it might even remove your pants. But overall, it goes like this: If you're anti-Semitic, you're anti-Semitic. Alcohol didn't put those ideas into your head, it just helped you ignore the social constructs that would have stopped you from voicing them while lunching with the Queen.

"I'm an alcoholic" is not an excuse to be used lightly. Yet it is blurted out left and right anytime somebody is looking for easy forgiveness from the general public, and I'm tired of it. These people might be alcoholics, but it's a symptom not a cause. First and foremost they're jackasses, alcoholics afterwards. They've got a problem, sure, but alcoholism is only part of it.

Mark Foley might have sent a message to that page saying, "Hey -- you've got a nice tight ass." while he was drunk, but I'd bet dollars to donuts that he thought about it while he was sober, first.

Finally, I'm damn tired of people appropriating one of my hobbies in this villainous fashion. What are they trying to achieve, here? Another round of Prohibition? Didn't anybody see how that turned out? People went blind drinking antifreeze. And while it heralded the era of the three-martini lunch, it also gave rise to the 50's, which is the second most depressing decade in American history.

So, please -- actors, politicians, public figures -- grow a spine, and take some responsibility for your actions. Instead of, "The devil made me do it," try "I made a mistake." Have some self respect. Leave the alcohol out of your petty excuses and let the rest of us enjoy it.


Writer, beer drinker, brewer. Not necessarily in the order. For more, check Top Fermented and Mystery Brewing Company.

more about erik lars myers


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alex b
10.23.06 @ 1:42a

I absolutely, totally agree. As a bartender and someone who has severed relationships with alcoholics, I've seen a lot of people- and sadly, friends- indulge their foibles and pass off accountability with the excuse of "I'm an alcoholic." Alcohol is a substance with a ton of known effects, but it's not the root of all evil. What's worse is choosing to reach for the bottle when you know you're not supposed to. (But sadly, drunk idiot brigades claim it's the bottle's fault instead of theirs, anyway.)


sandra thompson
10.23.06 @ 8:16a

While I don't drink anymore because my kidneys don't enjoy it as much as the rest of me does, I agree. I wish I could believe the things Rush Limbaugh says are a result of his pill addiction, but alas! alack! I think he's just mean and hateful and totally WRONG. There's an alcoholism gene running through my family, and some of my relatives, including my mother, have been alcoholics. I'm in favour of rehab programs and alcohol education and all that good stuff, but I insist upon my sip of champagne every New Year's Eve and you'll have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands. So there!

tracey kelley
10.23.06 @ 9:22a

I think of alcohol as the key that unlocks the gate to your subconscious.

dave lentell
10.23.06 @ 10:19a

Just remember what Homer Simpson would say... "Alcohol. The cause of and solution to all of life's problems."


erik myers
10.23.06 @ 10:38a

Don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of alcohol. I just really hate that people use it as an excuse for acting stupidly.

I don't care if you're drunk or not - you make your own choices. People who drastically alter their behavior when drunk are LOOKING for an excuse to act stupid, and they use alcohol AS that excuse.

Total lack of spine.

robert melos
10.23.06 @ 11:05p

I've had a few blackout experiences, usually resulting in nakedness followed by barfing, but I don't remember attacking any particular ethnic group or calling anyone sugar tits, although I might've done the latter but I'm sure it was a drag queen dressed as Liz Taylor to whom I was being rude.

I agree with you that alcohol doesn't turn you into a racist or bigot. The roots for those sentiments had to be there before the alcohol brought it out in them. I take offense to Mel Gibson, but am more appalled by Mark Foley. Verbal abuse is one thing, but to blame what is essentially pedophilia on alcohol is ridiculous. A psychological disorder is not something that can be explained away as alcoholic behavior. I'm angry about Mark Foley because he tried to blame his actions on alcohol and sexuality instead of taking the responsibility for his actions.

Mel Gibson is just a self-important fool.

alex b
10.23.06 @ 11:37p

I totally like my vodka and sodas. I like the little buzz that makes my cheeks redden and gets me giggly. But I've never been dumb enough to claim that my beverages caused something instead of my behavior. It starts with me, ends with me.

A lot of alcoholics pass the buck. They'll claim it's "their disease" or that "they just can't help it." Bull. It starts with them choosing to keep drinking, to abstain from getting help, and to retain a weak viewpoint.

sarah ficke
10.24.06 @ 9:59a

I think that Erik makes a good point in his article, which is that someone like Foley has two problems: alcoholism and pedophilia. Two problems, not just one.

russ carr
10.24.06 @ 5:03p


His chief problem is alcoholism. Alcoholism and pedophilia... pedophilia and alcoholism. His TWO chief problems are alcoholism and pedophilia...and hypocrisy. Sorry. His THREE chief problems are alcoholism, pedophilia, hypocrisy... and being an habitual liar. His four... no... AMONGST his chief problems are... such diverse elements as... no, wait, I'll come in again.


Had a cider at lunch. Gonna have wine (and cook with it) at dinner. Think I'll have a vodka and tonic while I cook.

robert melos
10.25.06 @ 6:25a

I've always taken offense to calling alcoholism a disease. I don't consider addictions a disease. I think of addictions as psychological disorders. Alcoholism can lead to diseases, but so can drug addiction or sexual compulsion. Maybe Foley can't control his alcoholism, and maybe he can't control his compulsion to instant message under-age boys, but the two don't always go, if you'll pardon the expression, hand in hand. I'd be even more disturbed if I thought Foley was not only having cyber sex moments before going on the house floor to vote, but was drunk as well.

The man obviously has a multitude of problems that have nothing to do with alcohol.

dan gonzalez
11.8.06 @ 10:55p

Late to this, I know, but you people are crazy. We need more drunk people voting, not less, because, as Myers pointed out, you don't do something drunk that you haven't already considered, but a politician will vote the party line on all kinds of total horseshit that he or she never considered at all.

I disagree, though, with the blanket statement that alcohol is not mind-altering. Many people have taken it to a level that (to use Freudian terms for whatever they're worth) strips their egos and super-egos clean off and let stheir ids run wild. And no matter what, we humans don't have good ids. Good and bad don't factor in where our pre-hensile reptilian true-selfs are concerned. Any of us.


robert melos
11.9.06 @ 4:13a

So Dan, in Freudian terms, it's 'Ids Gone Wild!' Just add a little alcohol and you've got topless/bottomless people dancing on tables?

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