America in decline: Navy halts early morning liquor sales

I guess my perspective is a bit jaded, having been in the Navy back in the day when heavy drinking was not only allowed, but frequently looked upon as a badge of honor. Nobody complained if you went out “steaming” every night as long as you showed up for morning inspection (or your next watch) on time and with your uniform in good order. But it seems that even our most ancient maritime traditions are destined to fall in the Era of Correct Thinking. The Navy will shortly begin cutting back on the hours when you can pick up a bottle of hooch on base. (H/T James Joyner.)

On the world’s largest naval base, sailors can pull into a gas station and buy a bottle of liquor before sunrise.

But as the Navy works to curb alcohol abuse in a push reduce sexual assaults and other crimes, the days of picking up a bottle of Kahlua along with a cup of coffee are coming to an end.

The Navy’s top admiral has ordered a series of changes to the way the Navy sells booze. Chief among them, the Navy will stop selling liquor at its mini marts and prohibit the sale of alcohol at any of its stores from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

“It’s not going to fix everything, but it is a real step in the right direction,” said David Jernigan, Johns Hopkins University’s director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth.

This looks like window dressing, hastily installed as a reactionary measure to all of the bad press coming out of the very serious problems of sexual assault currently in the news and being debated on the hill. In fact, the article goes on to cite a statistic from an unnamed study finding that “55 percent of Navy women said they or the offender had consumed alcohol before unwanted sexual contact.” The problem of sexual assault has to be dealt with, but let’s be honest here… if you take a poll of people leaving somebody else’s apartment at seven in the morning wearing the same clothes they had on when they went out the night before, I’m guessing alcohol was involved in more than 55% of all sexual contact, wanted or otherwise.

The military needs to deal with this problem, but even if they do think that alcohol is somehow the underlying evil here, do we really think that making sailors wait until six in the morning to get that next bottle of vodka is going to impact it? Alcohol abuse is an issue with young people and the military is no exception. But as they note, education programs have already cut “alcohol related violations” by roughly 20% and DUI’s nearly in half just since 2007. They might want to treat these as two separate issues and stop with the essentially meaningless PR moves like these.