There's something missing in the recent hubbub over whether the caffeinated alcoholic beverage Four Loko should be banned from existence -- and it goes beyond the fact that underage kids shouldn't be drinking alcohol in the first place, of any brand.
It's these two words: personal responsibility.
This is a concept that is extremely foreign to college students, but also to many, ahem, adults, as well. But for some reason, all the focus has been on the drink and what it's made out of and how bad it is for you and how it's putting people at risk when ... hello, people? Isn't this blatantly obvious?
Anything that's abused is dangerous. Even water. Gonna ban that too?
It's always disconcerting to hear stories like the one at the party in Washington where several underage students were discovered passed out all over the home where the festivities had been had. Nine were hospitalized.
Initially, drugs were suspected, but further investigation shows that Four Loko may be to blame. Known as "blackout in a can," the carbonated beverage contains 12 percent alcohol. But it's really just a combination of stuff that's already out there that people drink every day. Since the party, there have been numerous calls for a ban on the soda, and a federal investigation into caffeinated alcoholic beverages in general has been launched.
Proponents of a ban say the caffeine peps individuals up too much and makes them drink more alcohol and engage in more risky behavior. The reactionary emotions are understandable, but what's next? Should we ban rum and cokes?
Everclear and Mountain Dew? Coffee and Kahlua? Chardonnay with a side of Diet Coke (my personal favorite)?
People have been offsetting the sleepiness alcohol induces with a kick of caffeine for ages. Four Loko just makes it easier.
Ramapo College has already banned the drink on its campus.
"There's no redeeming social purpose to be served by having the beverage," President Peter Mercer told The Associated Press.
And no, there really isn't, but is there a redeeming social purpose for cigarettes or Whoppers or alcohol in general if abused? We can't ban everything -- people have to take personal responsibility for their choices at some point.
Otherwise, we're in a sense saying everything that isn't banned isn't dangerous. While alcohol poisoning is a serious, dangerous business, it's not going to go away just because you ban these beverages.
If colleges want to try and keep it from their campuses, fine. It will likely make it that much more desirable, but it's understandable they would feel the need to do something in the wake of such tragic headlines. Parents teaching children about responsible drinking would be better.
But beyond the college campus, we live in a free, capitalist society that holds dear individual freedom of choice in pretty much every other aspect of our lives. An outright ban on these beverages would be just another excuse for Americans to excuse themselves of personal responsibility when it comes to what they consume.
Do you think Four Loko should be banned?
Image via Phusion Projects