Should We Have Laws Against Large Sodas Served in Restaurants?

If you have any interest at all in petty local politics, a well-meaning gentleman by the name of Michael Bloomberg, who happens to be mayor of New York City, would like to ban ‘super-sized’ sodas from being sold in city restaurants because they are bad for you.

I’m OK with the ‘bad for you’ part. A legal ban on a large soda? Not so much.

There are many reasons why you might agree or disagree with me. Much electronic ink has already been spilled on this debate, and I’ll leave you to find the other arguments pro and con for this if you are interested. (there’s this thing called ‘Google’ that you can type some keywords into and…)

Instead, I’m going to make an argument that I don’t think I’ve heard very often. The last time I used this argument was in a college essay and I was accused of plagiarism. I had to look the professor straight in the eye and tell him over and over: “I wrote it.” because he apparently thought me not up to the quality of the writing.

I had used the argument in an essay against a flag burning amendment, which was a hot topic in the news about that time. My argument was two-fold. The first part was that it was unenforceable. How does one know when a crime is committed? If I used a newspaper with an American flag on the masthead as kindling to start a fire in my fireplace, have I broken the law? Or is it a ‘thought-crime’ only: if I participate in a Boy Scout ceremony to ‘cremate’ worn out American flags and ‘enjoy’ the experience, does that become the commission of a crime?

I argued that such a law not only served no purpose but caused an even greater crime in my opinion: bad laws cause people to lose respect for ALL laws. In a free society, there should be as few laws as possible prohibiting people from their personal pursuit of happiness – even if that happiness is found in a 32 ounce soda I would personally advise them against drinking on a regular basis.

We might quibble as to where that line needs to be drawn, but I think in this case most people would agree this is a bit much. Imagine someone in a bar drinking shots with soda being told: “I can’t serve you any more soda, but you can have all the shots of whisky you like. Wash them down with beer instead.”

I’m kind of a ‘live and let live’ sorta guy. Mayor Bloomberg in contrast, is perhaps a bit meglomanicial in is well-intentioned attempt at a ban. (He IS a billionaire – perhaps this breeds meglomania?) . If I recall, the mayor also refused to allow the city’s fine restaurants from donating their food to the homeless shelters because it could possibly be too high in saturated fats and salt to be ‘healthy’ for poor people. Again, his concern is for the well-being of the city’s residents, even the lowliest ones.

But somehow, preventing a hungry homeless person from eating leftovers from a 4-star restaurant, or giving out tickets to restaurant owners because they served someone a 32 ounce soda seems to be a tad fucked up, don’t you think?

11 thoughts on “Should We Have Laws Against Large Sodas Served in Restaurants?

  1. I definetly think there should be a limit on soda/general softdrink serving sizes. The new “big gulp” size of drink is huge, and people often go for the ‘diet’ options which actually doesn’t help because it tricks the body into thinking there is energy coming and they therefore eat more junk food. I don’t drink the stuff myself. Great article. Bryony.

    1. I don’t drink the stuff, either. Nor do I think people should be drinking 32 ounce big gulps – heck – I try to make sure my kids get as little as possible. But I don’t think we should make laws against it in a free society where we allow the potential for alcoholism because we allow alcohol, lung cancer because we allow cigarettes, and gun deaths way out of proportion to other first world country because of the second amendment.

    2. This is a free friggin country. Who are you, or any other politician for that matter, to tell anyone what they can and can’t drink and how much of it they should be allowed to drink. This is ridiculous.

  2. Rock on!

    And I’m not just saying that because I probably drink a six pack or more of diet soda daily. I hate smoking but I’m against smoking bans too, well, gov’t.-enforced ones anyway.

    What’s with all these people thinking they know what’s best for everybody else? MYOFB, I say.

    I didn’t know it was possible, but you just went up three more notches in my esteem!

  3. A comedian on Chelsea Lately said she spoke for all overweight people regarding this ban–“we’ll get what we want and you can’t stop us”.
    I can’t even hold the cup, let alone drink that much.

    1. It reminds me of a comedy skit I saw about someone arrested for pulling that tag off your mattress that says ‘do not remove under penalty of law’ – except that the skit was a joke and this is real.

      Luckily I enjoy the absurd so I’ll enjoy watching this play out.

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