Bashing Booze News won’t fix anything

By Sujay Kumar

Yuo shuold olny raed this wen drrrrrunk. Then it may actually make some sense.

This may be shocking news, but studies have shown that college students have a drinking problem. Nearly half of them enjoy consuming excessive amounts of alcohol to the point of inebriation. That’s nearly 4 million sloshed students. In other words, those crazy kids love drinking booze and getting crunk.

Perhaps the greatest testament to this binge behavior is The Booze News, a satirical newspaper founded by University graduates. Recently, the weekly newspaper’s delivery of “Today’s News … Under the Influence” has come under scrutiny after a book review referred to an interracial gay couple as “freaks.”

The backlash from this controversy has come in the form of a protest at the University of Missouri and calls for school officials to reprimand the newspaper.

It’s not an issue whether or not the book review that sparked the debate was in bad taste. It’s clear that it drunkenly stumbled across the line between satire and offensiveness. The Booze News has since expressed regrets for printing the article and its writer has been fired.

So the controversy party’s over, right? Nope.

Instead of sobering up and moving on, critics have used this controversy to attack The Booze News on the premise that it clearly condones high-risk alcoholic behavior. This is where the issue gets slightly blurry.

The Booze News is by no means an anti-alcohol publication. Let’s take a look at some articles that have appeared in the paper. A few weeks ago, I read a funny piece about an intervention. I can’t remember exactly what it said, but the gist of the article was, “Bro, you need to go out and drink with us more.” In a more recent issue, the cover story about “My College Dream House” poked fun at the frantic season of apartment lease signing. Inside that issue was a list of reasons you should black out on a Wednesday, and an interview with the band Motion City Soundtrack.

Of course, the newspaper is heavy on references to alcohol; that’s why it’s not called The Kool-Aid Round-up. But, as a co-founder said in an Associated Press article, The Booze News is about “being immature college kids” and not taking “ourselves seriously.” So of course the editor’s note about the “Confessions of a Practicing Jaywalker” is not meant to be taken seriously. In essence, the parody newspaper makes light of a college environment that is already drowning in alcohol.

Critics will say that the influence of alcohol on the college culture is no laughing matter. It wouldn’t be fair to those who have experienced loss at the hands of alcohol to say otherwise. But The Booze News is not mocking such tragedy; it is only commenting on what has come to be generally accepted as a daily part of student life.

Merely stating that booze and college students are not a good mix is hardly ground breaking. While there have been measures taken to curb binge and underage drinking, they are not working. I’m sure that there are statistics that show a decline in drunk driving deaths or hospital stomach pumps. But as a student, I know that little has changed.

If people really wanted to curb drinking, the answer is right in front of their eyes, not in The Booze News. Why is it that a student can drunkenly stumble by a police officer without fear of being arrested? Why can a girl use an ID that looks nothing like her to get into a bar? Why are statistics on college drinking so serious? The answer is that it’s college, and that’s accepted.

In the end, The Booze News is a lot like alcohol itself. If you want it, you can have it and if you don’t, that’s fine also. It’s your choice, because there’s not much standing in your way.