Thursday, July 17, 2014

Won't Miss #57 - drunkenness as an excuse (reflection)

This topic is one that has been on my mind for other reasons as of late. There are several things that have inspired thoughts about drinking and behavioral control, not the least of which has been the national debate about rape and alcohol in college culture. I took a graduate course in addiction last summer so I have a deep understanding of the effects of alcohol on the brain. It lowers inhibitions, it reduces sensory capacity (you can't hear, feel, see, etc. as well), and it impairs memory. It inhibits bodily control as well as mental control. Alcohol has a profound impact on control. That means that, technically speaking, being drunk is actually an "excuse" or reason for doing things that you wouldn't do if you weren't intoxicated.

That being said, most people know these things on certain levels already. In the U.S., we have drunk driver checkpoints and a judicial system that does not offer more lenient sentences because an offender was intoxicated. In fact, the system tends to be harsher on people who hurt others while drunk. The opposite continues to be so in Japan and, in my opinion, all this does is continue to encourage people not to control their drinking. As long as "he was drunk" means "he was less responsible for his actions," people have no incentive to be cautious about their alcohol consumption. I still don't miss a culture in which drunkenness is considered an reasonable excuse for bad or even criminal behavior.


A little reminder that my previous post contains a contest to win a free (and beautiful) book about Japan. Check out the last paragraph or so and leave a comment to enter. The contest will end on July 25, 2014. I will announce winners (Tuttle has generously offer two books) based on comment order using a random number generator.


  1. Is there a double standard about drunkenness, or does the excuse work for Japanese women as well as for men?

    (i hope this comment isn't a duplicate ...)

  2. Used just lately by some oyaji politician for being gropy, of course. Police had just stopped allowing drunks to walk away from non-injurious car wrecks when I got here in the nineties. My 'half' daughter is getting taught martial arts and street smarts before I let her visit the place alone.

  3. Significant progress has been made in reducing alcohol related traffic fatalities in the USA in recent years via stricter enforcement of 'drunk driving' laws. But there are still too many instances where repeat offenders drive under the influence and kill someone. Much/most domestic violence in the USA is alcohol/dry related, too. More still remains to be done!

    1. Never understood why multiple DUIs isn't an immediate jail sentence. Frankly the first DUI should be confinement for treatment with close monitoring after, and imprisonment for recidivism. You may have an alcohol issue, but you don't have to drive!

  4. This is interesting that this approach still exists somewhere in a civilised world. In my country (the Czech Republic) it actually used to be an excuse if someone driving under influence caused an accident, BUT that was almost 100 years ago...


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