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Sarah English, Published December 02 2010

Resisting ban on drink specials is both practical and principled

I resent the effort to ban drink specials, for practical reasons and for principle.

We should know that illegalizing fun substances or limiting access to them does little to prevent people from using them. When we banned alcohol in the 1920s, people made their own alcohol in bathtubs.

Drinking in the U.S. is an acceptable (and highly promoted) way to escape and let loose, and some people want to do that more badly than others. For them, overconsumption is the name of the game; they will do what they can to reach a state of oblivion.

Banning drink specials will restrict businesses unnecessarily and make going out more expensive for young people, many of whom drink responsibly. It will result in an increase in “pre-gaming,” or drinking cheaply at home before heading to the bar, a practice that makes for two drunken car trips instead of one.

Practically speaking, banning drink specials won’t make young people less drunk or our streets safer. If and when drunken people get behind the wheel, I charge law enforcement to deal with them in a serious way; but merely banning great specials won’t make their job any smaller in the long run.

On principle, these restrictions are ludicrous. We don’t need a task force to protect us from ourselves. People can drink as much as they want, or as much as the bar will serve them – it’s their body. Until they get behind a wheel or otherwise endanger others, law enforcement, medical professionals and the “community” should mind their own business.

Concern for “public health” is a weak reason to ban drink specials; such concern could always justify more and more totalitarian measures. For example, statistically, according to the CDC’s Web page on obesity trends by state, one in four of the adults on the Safe Communities Coalition is obese, while plenty of others are probably overweight. I do not propose, however, that we prohibit McDonald’s from having specials or that we close down the all-you-can-eat buffets. I wouldn’t want a task force to keep you from overconsuming delicious food this holiday season. Your body is your property, and you can destroy it in any way you please. Let the inebriate operate under the same right.

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” Endeavoring to eradicate drunken driving is worthwhile, but banning drink specials is a misplaced effort to do so. Ditch the tendency to illegalize and find other, more creative and empathetic solutions, like taxing the drink specials and using the money to fund safer transportation.