Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Stickin' it to "The Man", Catholic Style


Ok, so I've gotten a few questions/comments regarding the drinking post. The whole of it can basically be neatly divided into two parts:

1) Alcohol has medicinal effects. You're saying that its sinful to drink something that has medicinal effects?

2) We are morally obligated to obey the law, and disobedience of the law is sinful because it undermines the peaceful governance of society and so works against the general welfare. What about civil disobedience?

Right. Valid points both. I think that I will give each its own post, particularly since the second one would be fairly long.

First one first. It is worth pointing out that only red wine has these effects. Beer, vodka, whiskey, rum, et al, so far as I know, do not do this (nor does white or blush wine, for that matter). The reason is that red wine contains anti-oxidants, which neutralizes things in the body known as "free radicals". Basically, they go around stealing electrons from other cells that need them, which is not so good. It should be noted that alcohol is itself an oxidant, so at some point the alcohol in the wine is going to counteract the catechins (where the anti-oxidants are at in the red wine). Really says something, I think, about Aristotle's Golden Mean.

The next thing that should be pointed out is that these catechins are also found in many green teas, and to a lesser extent in black teas. It is among several called "non-nutrient" anti-oxidants (those not found in vitamins or minerals), which are in fact better for you than the other variety. Tomatoes and cranberries would also have this type (and red grapes, obviously). So why do I mention all of this? To point out that red wine does not have some unique and special nutritious value not found anywhere else. Because of this, the government is doing nothing wrong, and is not keeping children from having the vital nutrition that they need by setting a minimum age limit for drinking wine. Fj's the science expert here, but I would imagine that it would be better for youth and minors to get their daily anti-oxidant supply from an alcohol free source anyway. If you accidentally give them too much, I should think that the effects would be more damaging since their brains (along with the rest of them) are still developing and growing, and neural pathways being formed in ways not done in adults.

In the higly unlikely event that the U.S. Government outlawed grapes, tomatoes, cranberries, tea, plus any foods containing zinc, copper, and Vitamins A, C, or E, then you might have a case that public health demands a drinking of alcohol by youth and minors. Even then, however, it would probably be a better use of time to deal with the fact that about half the food pyramid has been outlawed then to protest the banning of wine. That's like complaining that the fire that burned down your house also got soot and dirt in your hair.

So, would such a state of affairs allow us to drink wine or somehow get a supply of antioxidants, or is our obedience to civil authority such that we are morally obligated to deny ourselves proper nutrition? This and more, same bat-time, same bat-channel!


+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+
"Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and small people talk about wine."
-Fran Lebowitz


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