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COLUMN

End of Story

Guest Column
Levente Jakab

In the past few weeks, I have been bombarded with dismal news about alcohol-related incidents.

MIT has paid off the Kruegers for their son’s gross idiocy. A student at the University of Michigan gets himself killed foolishly, and the university braces itself for the flaming backlash. Students are afraid to call for medical transport for their neighbors, out of fear of punitive measures. Bizarre alcohol laws seek to punish those who invoke their natural right to self-destruct.

All these incidents demonstrate what is to me a clear violation of the fundamental concept of individual responsibility.

First of all, whose fault was it -- honestly now -- that Scott Krueger consumed some incredibly high amount of alcohol? Before submitting your final answer, bear in mind it was the decision of Krueger, and none other than Krueger, to physically ingest a substance that is by its very nature a poison. The fact that his housemates may have encouraged him to do such a thing is asinine behavior, but not grounds for prosecution. The immediate human tendency to assign blame for everything is inevitably invoked, but the fact is that there is no one to blame here. Not MIT, not the fraternity Phi Gamma Delta, and not even Scott Krueger. Scott Krueger made the decision to engage in potentially lethal behavior, and it happened to kill him. End of story.

Similarly, a student at the University of Michigan apparently decided it was in his best interest to consume twenty-one standard doses of a substance whose effect in large quantities is clearly documented to be poisonous. He happened to die, and it becomes a national incident. In this case, it was his own peculiar set of standards -- and that of nobody else -- that caused him to engage in this behavior. It just so happened that he poisoned himself to death.

Again, end of story.

So now we move on to the apparent problem some people have with medical transport. If someone decides to poison himself or herself, then the laws the way they are cause others to be fearful of the ramifications, and therefore attempt to cover up the incident. This fear should be completely unwarranted, and it is an unfair set of laws that makes it very real. The laws seem to want to punish those who attempt to give medical assistance to those that have done something stupid, even though those who are calling for the assistance may have done nothing wrong themselves. Perhaps everyone involved has consumed toxic substances, but again that is their own right.

The fourth clause is much more general -- the decision to drink should not be made by the government, but by the individual. If a person feels that he should destroy himself in the name of “entertainment,” then who are we to stop him?

The only thing we should attempt to stop is behavior that adversely affects those that do not consent to being adversely affected -- for example, drunk driving. To that effect, I say we abolish this silly idea of a minimum drinking age. We should not punish people for self-destructive behavior. This is a convenient solution -- it allows those not responsible for the actions of others (namely, everyone) to not live in fear of false retribution.

It will eliminate the entire problem with the campus police providing medical transport -- after all, the person in need of transport was not doing anything legally wrong, and neither were the people that called the police. Also, it will save people a lot of money, because they will not have to pay it out due to frivolous lawsuits and the avoidance thereof. Finally, it will set a standard that is easy to understand and quite agreeable -- that the individual, and no one but the individual, is responsible for his or her own actions.

Levente Jakab is a member of the class of 2003.