"But Mom! I want to go to the park!"
When I was a kid, there were plenty of parts of "no," I didn't understand. As I grew up, I found out it wasn't just my parents I would have to look to for the green light. Until I was 16, it wasn't Mom and Dad saying I couldn't drive, but the laws of New York State. When I turned 21, federal law finally allowed me to imbibe my first taste of alcohol (and if you believe that let's turn this boat around before we sail off the edge of this flat earth). Now, as a full-fledged adult -- if you don't believe me you should have seen my 5 o'clock shadow the other day, thanks in part to the extra hour from Daylight Savings Time -- I can drink, smoke, vote, and gamble to my liver, lungs, wallet, and conscience's content and inclinations.
Not necessarily. It looks like our nanny state has found our stash of Playboys under the mattress and our bottle of Admiral Nelson rum in the closet. Don't let the plastic bottle fool you -- admiral is a higher rank than captain -- but if a handful of people start using the contents of that bottle or the contents of, say, a 23.5 ounce can of 12 percent alcohol by volume, fruity, caffeinated beverage, to where it causes self-harm, stop the presses, ring the alarm, and hide your kids, hide your wife, because they'll start snatching your Four Loko up.
All across the nation, Four Loko fever is spreading. Four Loko, easily identifiable by its neon camouflage pattern at the front of your local convenience store's refrigerator, has been selling like hot cakes, if hot cakes were $3 cans of over-sugared, highly-caffeinated malt beverage. If we're going to get all hot and bothered about cheese, is it any wonder the big wigs and small wigs of government and academia are going "loco" to ban Four Loko?
What happened to personal responsibility and moderation? When universities and the government start acting in loco (Loko?) parentis, when do young adults get a chance to act and think for themselves? Drink a Four Loko, throw up in a cab and on your friends, and get carried home on your 22nd birthday and you'll make the decision for yourself whether or not you want a Watermelon Four Loko the next time you're at the corner bodega. I can buy Devil's Springs 160-proof vodka and mix it with Kool Aid powder, throw in a couple 5-Hour Energy drinks and I've got myself a sugary, caffeinated, death in a cup atom bomb. I don't recommend this hooch, but it's my prerogative if I want to go out and buy all of these components, even 5-Hour Energy, which is not FDA-approved (whereas Four Loko is), mix them up and paint the town red - which may not just be an expression if I got my hands on some red paint, given the energy and drunkenness induced by that creation.
Already, Michigan, the mitten of the Great Lakes, has banned Four Loko from in-state purchase, while colleges across the nation are prohibiting the drink on campus. It's offensive enough that most states maintain blue laws (not that I really ever want to buy alcohol on Sunday mornings), but now it's not just "when" that we are being told we can purchase, but "what." Fortunately, for my thinning wallet, the Empire State cannot ban products that already have FDA-approval, but not for lack of trying and an agenda to create a loophole.
Four Loko is far from my first choice if I want a stiff drink, but I don't think that it should not be allowed to be a choice. Bright colors and flavors does not equal marketing to kids, and shouldn't the stores that sell Four Loko be ensuring that they are only selling this product to adults? Trust me: Four Lokos do not taste like candy. And yes, I know they are far from healthy, but all this month, while people are licking their fingers after downing the limited-time offer, 500-calorie McRib, or drinking their limited-edition Spike Lee-collaboration Absolut Brooklyn vodka because of its bright, hip logo, let's realize we all have the capacity to decide for ourselves whether or not something warrants being illegal, or if it's merely something that's "bad" for us that we can choose whether or not to purchase.
Four Loko is not some new, untested substance, and it's a far cry from meth, crack, even marijuana, which are illegal for (more) valid reasons. Four Loko is like any other mixed drink we choose to make or malt beverage we can buy, bearing the same inherent danger as these drinks. There are bigger fish to fry than "issues" like caffeine in alcoholic beverages or steroids in baseball. The government needs to regulate emissions standards, off-shore drilling, the quality of meats in our supermarket, and various other aspects of society with significant impacts and exigency that we as individuals cannot regulate or control, not the minutia of what we eat, what we drink, and how we decide to let off a little steam and get Loko. So calm down, Mom and Dad, I'm not a little kid anymore and I've got this ... I'll be at the park.