Most people don’t ride the fence about the consumption of alcohol — they are either for it or dead set against it.
But the trouble with alcohol is not the spirits themselves but the lack of responsibility on the part of those consuming it, and therein lies the problem, one that seems to be rearing its head time and again in Sampson County of late.
A Labor Day weekend shootout that roared into Sampson County in the wee hours of that holiday Monday morning appears to be the end result of too much alcohol at a backyard club which led to some type of dispute and eventually the chase, a shootout, a wreck, injuries and arrests. Whether suspects or innocent travelers caught up in the unfolding crime, each is now paying the penalty of irresponsibility.
A week later and again with what appears to be too much alcohol in their system, another suspect got into a dispute at a local eating establishment that also sells alcohol, tossed a glass beer bottle and injured two women in the process.
Again it was a combination of alcohol and irresponsible adults with a perilous ending that, fortunately, wasn’t any worse than some minor injuries. And once more victims and suspects are each paying the price of poor judgement.
But that just scratches the surface of the problem. Too often we see crime reports detailing fights that occur in the parking lot of reputable eating establishments, illegal backyard clubs and even people’s homes. More often than not alcohol is involved. Eventual words are exchanged, fights erupt and mayhem follows. Sometimes it’s been deadly.
It’s easy to blame the establishments because, after all, they offer the spirits. But selling alcohol is not the root of the problem, people are.
On any given evening in the restaurants that serve alcohol, you can find individuals enjoying a quiet dinner with a glass of wine, a bottle of beer or even a mixed beverage. What you don’t see is a hand-over-fist approach, where before one drink is downed the consumer is calling for another, then another, then another, and perhaps one or two more.
That’s irresponsible drinking that leads to irresponsible behavior. It’s not unique to Clinton, it happens everywhere, but, of course, that doesn’t make it right. What’s more, today, it’s Clinton and Sampson County we worry about as we try to stop foolish and often destructive behavior
It’s true of our impressionable teens and truer still of the adults who set the example.
While we would agree that restaurant owners need to take a more proactive approach to cutting off those who have had too much to drink and prohibit from returning to their establishments those who’ve caused problems, there are things we can do ourselves to lessen the chances of trouble.
Here are some:
• We can, for example, stop our teens from drinking. It’s illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol so why should we, as parents, condone it, even if we are watching over them, giving them the opportunity, with supervision to do what we convince ourselves they will do behind our backs otherwise. Forbid it and enact punishment when rules are broken.
• Stop glamorizing alcohol. While there’s nothing wrong with a drink, when it becomes a priority in our lives, something is wrong, and when it’s the root of all our conversations, well …
• Be a good friend. Obviously don’t let others drive if they’ve been drinking, but take it a step further and prevent them from drinking too much and, stop arguments before they erupt.
• Remember the old wives’ tale - nothing good happens after midnight. Be home and safe before then.
It’s simplistic in its approach but, we believe, effective.
Like most things, a bad reputation comes from those who abuse the privileges they’ve been given. It’s as true of alcohol consumption as anything.
Take a look at the city’s Alive After 5 event as the example. Alcohol is served at the venue, but it is limited. There have been no problems, and we believe it’s because of the limits placed on the consumption.
We should have limits. In the long run it benefits us all.