Adulthood and the age thing

Jeff Bone (
Thu, 04 Jun 1998 13:21:53 -0500

Okay, let's see... I can go to work when I'm 14 in some places or 15 in
most places, but some jobs require me to be 18 or even 21... but I have
to pay federal taxes and possibly state taxes on income no matter what
age I am. I can drive when I'm 15 in some places, 16 in most places,
but I have to be 18 in a few places, and I generally can't rent a car
anywhere until I'm 21. I can be tried as an adult at 17 in most places
or earlier, at the discretion of the court. I am required (if male) to
register for potential military service at 18, and I can vote when I'm
18, but I can't drink until I'm 21 in most places. I can have sex when
I'm 12 (in Delaware) but if my partner has nakee pictures of me, then
she's a child pornographer and can be tried on federal charges. (Though
when we bump uglies that's perfectly legally acceptable.) (As an aside,
I can engage in consensual sodomy with a 12 year old in Delaware, but
never at any age with anyone in Georgia.) I can't rent XXX videos or
buy Penthouse until I'm 18. I can get married when I'm 18 in Texas or
as young as 12 in some places. (But only with parental consent.) I can
leave public school when I'm 16 or 17, and can leave home anywhere from
14 to 17 most places, but I can't generally rent an apartment until I'm
18 without parental consent.

Is anybody else confused? Troubled by this? Granted I'm way past
worrying about this personally, but it still points out how
fundamentally fucked certain aspects of our legal framework are. Does
anyone have any solutions? I have a few, but I'm interested in hearing
other opinions before I spout off my mouth.

Amusing anecdote: In 1986, the drinking age in Texas was 19. This was
during the period of time when the fed was essentially blackmailing the
states by threatening to cut or eliminate federal highway funds to the
states unless drinking ages were raised to 21. Texas buckled, and in
September raised the age to 21. I turned 19 in August; I was legal for
about a month. There was no grandfather clause... so I could legally
drink for a few weeks, then I was underage again for another 23 months.
I've often wondered what would have happened had I bought a bar or
liquor store during that period of time...

Another amusing aside: Louisiana, I hear, resisted the drinking age
extortion for a while and eventually give in. However, when they raised
their drinking age, I understand they did it in an *incredibly* sane way
that, I believe, should be the model for all states. As I understand
it, the way Louisiana law is worded, the legal onus is on the buyer
rather than the seller. That is, it's only legal to buy alcohol when
you are 21 --- but the person breaking the law is the underage minor
purchasing the liquor, not the seller! Hooray if that's true! (Can
anyone confirm?)