Four Loko is healthier than fascism

Matt Ciepielowski

Sometimes people are stupid, and they drink too much alcohol, and sometimes bad things happen to them. This has happened in a few highly publicized incidents with the caffeinated malt beverage Four Loko. And this, of course, has given government officials and college administrators a chance to do what they do best: not mind their own damn business.

After a recent incident in which students got sick after drinking Four Loko in the state of Washington (shocking, I know), the Washington State Liquor Control Board voted to ban “alcoholic energy drinks.” Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire supported the ban.

“Quite simply, these drinks are trouble,” Gregoire said. “By taking these drinks off the shelves we are saying ‘no’ to irresponsible drinking and taking steps to prevent incidents like the one that made these college students so ill.”

Gregoire’s comments would have really pissed me off if I didn’t already have zero faith in the common sense of our elected representatives. Does she really think this is going to make a dent in irresponsible drinking?

The University of Rhode Island also banned Four Loko earlier this month. In a message to the URI community, Vice President of Student Affairs Thomas Dougan said: “Combining stimulants like caffeine and alcohol constitutes a dangerous mix, particularly for young people, because stimulants reduce a person’s sense of alcohol intoxication (i.e., ‘feeling drunk’) and alcohol impairs judgment and reaction time.”

Here’s the problem with Dougan’s reasoning: A can of Four Loko actually has less than half the caffeine of a regular-sized Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. What is it that makes Four Loko so much worse than a Jägerbomb or vodka Red Bull?

For the record, I think that Four Loko tastes terrible. But I also understand that neither the fact that it tastes like crap nor the fact that it makes you really drunk are good enough reasons to infringe upon anyone else’s ownership of their own body.

Read Dougan’s full message here