The issue of excessive drinking is generally presented as "excessive drinking causes problems."
This cause and effect is sometimes true: Drinking clearly reduces response time when driving and that causes accidents, excessive drinking can so impair the individual that he or she causes damage to him or herself, and in the extreme alcohol is poisonous. However, in many situations it is the drunken person that is the problem.
Much of the "drinking problem" is the rudeness, abusiveness and meanness of the individual. Alcohol lowers inhibition, but it is the individual that is the central problem.
If the drunk person were respectful of others and did not think to destroy another person's property or disturb neighbors as they stumbled home, if the drunk person apologized when he or she woke up a sleeping child at 2 a.m., if the drunk person were nice, then much of the "drinking problem" would disappear.
My point is that reducing the level of alcohol consumption is only half of the issue, and addressing only "dangerous drinking" — the term the article "Community must find solutions together" (Jan. 18) constantly used — is not enough. As a university and community we must work together to suppress meanness, rudeness, destruction of property and the nastiness that is heightened with alcohol.
What if we all demanded "tough love"? Friends do not allow friends to get away with blatant acts of unkindness, boyfriend and girlfriend do not tolerate rudeness from the other when they drink, police are supported and helped by students and community residents alike to stop and fine people who are being destructive and mean, friends and neighbors are forced to take responsibility for their actions and pay for the damage they cause, parents of drunken students who have destroyed a tree are contacted and the students are forced to purchase and replant the tree, etc.
If the culture in State College and at Penn State evolved to where student and town resident, parent and son or daughter, faculty and administrator, constantly supported each other and stood together against meanness, rudeness and destructiveness, then perhaps, over time, the problem of "excessive drinking" would reduce to the point that our primary focus could, in fact, be the problem of "dangerous drinking."
James Brasseur Boalsburg