Either John was right the first time and banning the combination of two legal substances – caffeine and alcohol – is complete idiocy, or we must go much, much further and simply ban dangerous substances altogether or at the very least any potential combination of substances that might be dangerous. Why bother legalizing marijuana when the possible effect of smoking and drinking might make people much more intoxicated? Why sell both coke and rum in the same store – shouldn’t that be banned also? And come to think of it, drinking also encourages people to smoke more cigarettes, so really even selling those within the same city block could have potentially harmful side-effects. We should also ban hamburgers because do people need to eat all those unhealthy carbs when they’re already eating those unhealthy burger patties? There’s an obesity epidemic people and it’s killing us all. We need the government to protect us from ourselves.
You see, following this line of reasoning leads to all sorts of preposterous, paternalistic logic that might make sense if you’re thinking about, say, school lunches, but not so much when discussing the affairs of grown-ups.
Put simply, banning things that many people want (drugs, sex, alcohol, etc.) doesn’t work – taxing things, on the other hand, can help quite a bit. So by all means, put a sin tax on Four Loko and make it prohibitively expensive if we’re really worried about binge drinkers. But honestly we have to quit treating everyone as though they were children. People were binge drinking before Four Loko came around. If anything, if this is the course of action we feel we need to take, we should ban margaritas and daiquiris and any other drink that tastes sweet. And beer, too, because let’s face it: beer is delicious and makes people like me want to drink way too much of it. Indeed, many people do. Many other people don’t.
Then again, I find the fact that we have to be twenty-one to drink legally insulting as well. I think fewer bans and fewer rules on substances would likely result in less abuse of said substances. In countries where children are introduced to alcohol at a much younger age (think most of Europe here) they learn not only to be more responsible drinkers, but don’t have the same thrill at breaking taboos when they become teenagers and college kids. A culture which chooses instead to ban things and force them into the closet has a much harder time dealing with its issues. Think of Europe again: places where strong hate speech laws are in place have a really hard time dealing with the hate those laws are attempting to quash. It’s never out in the open so it’s much harder to combat.
Again, I will reassert my belief that Americans have the right to be stupid – at least until their stupidity infringes someone else’s life or liberty. Personally, I wouldn’t touch Four Loko with a ten foot pole but damnit I’ll at the very least write a blog post defending your right to do so.