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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Logan Dobson: A right to drink what we want

Four Loko is an exceptionally efficient beverage. It has as much alcohol in one brightly colored can as five light beers. It has as much caffeine as two cups of coffee. At a single party at Central Washington University, nine students were hospitalized after overconsuming the potent beverage.

Truly an awful beverage. Dangerous, ubiquitous and pretty bad-tasting to boot. Or so I’m told.

It’s for these reasons that we’ve seen a broad coalition of groups seeking a ban on Four Loko and drinks of a similar nature. Eighteen attorneys general have asked the Food and Drug Administration to investigate the drink and its effects. Numerous colleges around the country, most recently and notably Michigan State University, have banned the drink outright. Others are considering it.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill – as so many columns about college drinking do – Four Loko might just be the worst drink ever. Except, of course, for all the other ones.

What is it, exactly, that people are accusing Four Loko of that is so offensive?

It certainly can’t be its alcoholic nature. Colleges across the country have long since come to terms with students drinking, and they have measures in place to deal with it.

Is it because they object to the mixing of energy drinks and alcohol? Well, that’ll be a tough thing to prevent. Sure, you could ban Four Loko and similar drinks. But you’ll probably have to ban Red Bull, too. Oh, and vodka. And you’ll have to ban ever mixing them.

Banning Four Loko is the path of least resistance. Attorneys general are always trying to ban something, because they are almost always trying to run for some higher office. Therefore, they want to be able to point to all the people they’ve investigated to prove that they’re trying to keep the children safe.

Similarly, the temptation to ban Four Loko must be strong among college presidents. The drink has attracted significant national press, and parents are undoubtedly worried about the affect this pernicious beverage will have on their poor, innocent children.

But this is, after all, a college. At colleges, we are expected to think rationally, and judge issues based on the facts. I am not, of course, a doctor. My medical knowledge is derived entirely from reruns of “House” on the USA Network. For all I know, Four Loko will give you lupus.

But this much I do know: All alcohol is probably bad for you. Smoking is bad for you. Lives of rampant hedonism filled with wild sexual trysts and pancakes for dinner are bad for you. But these things are legal, because we, as a society, have decided that we’re willing to do things that are bad for us because they make us feel good. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Is drinking a can of Four Loko worse for you than drinking a can of beer? Almost certainly. Is taking a shot of Bacardi 151 worse for you than a swig of Southern Comfort? That’s probably true, too. But when you pop the top of that delicious Four Loko, you enter into a pact with the rest of society; You agree to take on that excess risk in exchange for a good time. No one, not the government or your college president, should be able to take that right away from you.

-The writer, a senior majoring in political science, is a Hatchet columnist.

Readers can visit the Forum to comment on this column.

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