Alcohol – an excuse?

The recent sexual shenanigans at Westminster have thrown light on one aspect of Parliamentary life that often goes unnoticed – the role of the easy access to alcohol in the Houses of Parliament due to the numerous bars and long opening hours available throughout the building.

It’s quite normal for people of all ages and backgrounds to blame alcoholic excess for bad behaviour. Haven’t we all heard people say, ‘I was drunk – I don’t remember/I wasn’t aware of what I was doing’ as an excuse? Or, worse, men deliberately getting a woman drunk so her guard slips and he can have his way with her without resistance?

Are these men not simply revealing an inner wish to be perceived as a kind of Lothario that thankfully remains suppressed when sober?

Well, I don’t believe that alcohol is an excuse for bad behaviour because it doesn’t turn us into someone we’re not, but REVEALS who we really are. It takes the mask off .and shows us the person in the shadows beneath.

The point is, moderate alcohol lowers inhibitions that have been carefully put in place by education, socialisation and the threat of legal action and retribution, that is, measures designed to raise us above animal instincts and encourage the kind of responsible behaviour upon which ‘civilisation’ depends. I’m not referring here to getting completely blotto on, say, 12 or more units, but the kind of pleasant, easy going feeling that comes from 2-3 pints of beer or a couple of medium-sized glasses of wine without losing our ability to function.

When I hear someone using alcohol to excuse bad behaviour, I ask myself, ‘What does this reveal about the real person underneath?’ All too often, we see a man (and it usually is a man) thinking he can get away with it, deflecting the blame onto the grape or the grain.  The spectre of hordes of leery, alcohol-fuelled, middle-aged MPs behaving like love gods among their female colleagues is not a pleasant one.

Alcohol overuse and dependence has become a major problem in society. Isn’t it time the law acknowledges that alcohol does not take away our personal responsibility but shows us what is really going on within?

©David Lawrence Preston, 5.11.17

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