There’s something really tragic about Tony Abbott being filmed downing a beer in seven seconds – see the film, and accompanying news comment here BBC News: Tony Abbbott downs beer in seven seconds
It’s just wrong on so many levels, over and above any desire he might (or might not) have had to get drunk quickly. There was clearly some sort of peer pressure he succumbed to – not good in a Prime Minister. Abbott has spoken publicly about the dangers of binge drinking….. hypocrisy is also not good in a Prime Minister. There was also clearly some sort of macho showing off – not good in any middle aged man, but particularly not good in a Prime Minister.
It’s complicated though, because as well as having a political stance on alcohol and binge drinking, Tony Abbott has a personal relationship with alcohol – all of us do. I have no idea what Abbott’s relationship with alcohol is, and would not want to speculate on it. I would speculate however that his personal relationship with alcohol informs his drinking behaviour. It would have done on this occasion, just as it would have done if he’d been filmed sipping a glass of champagne at a wedding.
Here’s the thing. We all have a relationship with alcohol, and how alcohol affects us informs how we think society should deal with alcohol. The problem is that “we” includes politicians, who make decisions about alcohol and alcohol policies. Perhaps this is why politicians so often ignore evidence about alcohol – their own opinions and beliefs trump the findings of medical, psychological, social and genetic scientists. If you’re a politician, it’s a small step from your personal relationship with alcohol informing your drinking behaviour to allowing that relationship to inform policy decisions.
That’s why I think this footage of Tony Abbott isn’t just wrong, it’s dangerously wrong.