American beer may be better than what they brew in Europe, but we have a long way to go when it comes to the culture of beer drinking.
Exhibit A: On Thursday, the British government - yes, the government - introduced a shatterproof pint glass that it requisitioned in an effort to cut back on injuries sustained during the 87,000 broken pint-glass attacks that take place there every year.
In fact, British Home Secretary Alan Johnson estimated that these attacks cost the National Health Services about $4.3 billion.
According to an Associated Press story:
Two types of shatterproof technologies are in the works. One has a thin bio-resin coating on the inside that strengthens it, and the other bonds two thin layers of gas together in the same way as car windshields. Both are difficult to break, and they keep the shards together if they do fracture, rendering them useless as weapons.
The plan is to introduce the new glasses for voluntary use in pubs if tests show they are durable, cost-effective and safe. In the North London neighborhood of Camden, Elephants Head bartender Mirjam Linzie said the staff would welcome safer glasses. "One time there was a big fight, and 50 pints were smashed in one minute," she said. "It was a bloodbath."
By doing this, the bureaucrats in London are basically saying, "Yeah, the fine citizens of our noble country are drunks, and violent drunks at that. This is not going to change. We aren't going to try and change it. But we do need to do something about the bloody fools who keep getting cut up on Friday nights."
A public policy position like that - one devoid of any attempt to address alcoholism or violence as the root of the problem - is admirable in its purity and could only be achieved after centuries of beer drinking.
It's something we Americans can only aspire to if our nation is still here three hundred years from now - which is unlikely.
These unbreakable glasses may pose a problem for traditionalists, who like nothing more than to finish a surly stout than by breaking their empty glass over a mate's noggin. But Britain will no doubt find a way to adapt. God save the Queen.
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