Sticker Shocking

It appears MADD is up to their old tricks and actually this has probably been going on for some time albeit somewhat under the radar. In 1996, MADD created a youth organization of indoctrinated kids to do their dirty work for them called Youth In Action. One of their many “projects” is called Sticker Shock, which is described on their website:

YIA teams meet with local retailers that sell alcohol and ask permission to place warning stickers on the packaging of alcohol products (primarily beer). The stickers are very visible and warn of the consequences of purchasing alcohol for people under the age of 21. This project is designed to remind adults that they can be arrested for purchasing alcohol for minors.

Thanks for the “reminder” kids, but surely you could do something more constructive with your time. Maybe it’s the old curmudgeon in me, but it’s times like these when I miss the old days when children were to be seen and not heard. Do we really need these Stepford teens to lecture adults on the law?

This practice has apparently heated up in Massachusetts, with the state chapter there conducting raids of stores that sell alcohol to sticker the beer there.
Happily, Todd and Jason Alstrom, from Beer Advocate, take them to task in a recent column in Boston’s Dig entitled Fascist Youth Vandalize Liquor Stores. It almost reads like a headline from The Onion, except that it’s true. After detailing MADD’s Hitler youth in action, they strike the right note of indignation, certainly the same one I had.

Shocked? No, we’re pissed off! This is wrong on so many levels! First, while we agree that selling alcohol to minors is not cool, these sticker shock campaigns are outright acts of vandalism. Who cares if the storeowner gave permission? Who cares if these neo-prohibitionists are accompanied by an adult? Who cares if the adult’s a cop? Their little stunt is still illegal: Brewers must get approval from federal agencies for all packaging, including labels. Not only do these stickers alter the packaging, but sloppy placement could cover crucial information that, by law, must be visible to consumers.

And what about that cop? C’mon, with a cop backing these kids up, it’s no wonder that storeowners are consenting. And why “primarily beer”? Show us stats proving that kids are more likely to be hitting up adults for beer than for spirits. And why sticker all the beer in stock? Why not restrict it to the brands most popular with teen drunks? And why do we, the adult consumers, need to be “reminded” that purchasing beer for minors is illegal in the first place? Who said we forgot? Who decided this crap should be shoved in our faces? The YIA site says: “YIA teams look for community solutions instead of focusing their attention on their peers” — but isn’t that exactly where the primary focus should be?

This is not “reminding,” it’s intimidation, pure and simple.


The stickers read “Providing Alcohol to Minors is ILLEGAL. 4th Degree Felony. 18 Months in Jail. $5000 Fine. MADD’s Youth in Action.” All true, but why stop there. Why not sticker cans of soda with warnings that they can cause obesity. Coke and Pepsi would never sit still for that. In the UK several years ago McDonald’s sued a couple of activists literally for years because they had the audacity to criticize their food in what became known as the McLibel trial. But criticizing alcohol is perfectly acceptable because law enforcement and especially politicians are afraid to be reasonable thanks to the very vocal and active temperance minority, bowing to almost their every demand.


Jason and Todd conclude with an excellent suggestion.

So we’re challenging all true beer lovers to refuse to buy any product that has been vandalized by YIA, and to tell shop owners you’ll be boycotting their establishments until they get their beer from under MADD’s thumb — literally.

Amen to that. Don’t buy if you see the sticker. We have to start standing up to these bullies. I know in some cases the retailers had little choice in reality, but if they know there are consequences for acquiescence, ones that hit their bottom line, then they’ll begin to do the right thing, which is tell these gang of youths to go “remind” somebody else. That the police give these stunts the imprimatur of legality is quite frankly Orwellian and more than a little frightening.


  1. says

    Too foolish for words. Seriously, it seems MADD’s stance is to violate the laws so long as it doesn’t involve drinking. The end justifies the means? I think I’ll assemble a group that goes around plastering stickers on the houses of these participants. Better yet, spray paint their houses with the slogan “vandalism is wrong”.

  2. says

    Even better, place the sticker “vandalism is wrong” on their back, as you pat them. So they walk around with this sticker on their back, just as in middle school. An event just as childish as their actions.

  3. says

    You should have included the closing quote in your blog, I think it’s the single most important point that could be made.

    “It has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I ever wanted or envisioned. I didn’t start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving.” Candy Lightner, MADD founder.

    Alcohol isn’t the problem, it’s how it’s used and abused. Their campaign does nothing to try and steer their peers towards acting responsibly, and / or refraining from drinking until they are legally allowed to.

    • says


      It is a great quote, but I chose not to use it because it’s actually an old quote, one she gave several years ago. It was not specifically her reaction to this story. I know that because I have used the quote before in other writing I’ve done.

  4. Erik says

    That’s totally distasteful to see that being done. Thankfully in Indiana where I live, you can’t even enter a liquor store unless you are 21 and over. So this campaign could only target the grocery stores.

  5. says

    Great post Jay. Moderation is a word we hear regularly and if there are problems with drink, moderation is the key. Everyone talks about moderation by beer drinkers in how much they consume. Everyone expects moderation by breweries in how they market their beer. Surely we can expect the same moderation by those supposedly calling for moderation in how they preach their message. This is beyond immoderate, it is completely over the top.

  6. says

    How about a sticker on the refrigerators of all those MADD moms warning about the dangers of high fructose corn syrup in all the crap they’re feeding their kids? Or a banner over Jack in the Box or Burger King warning of the health risks of a Whopper. They’re more likely to end up dying of diabetes and other illnesses related to poor nutrition than they are drunk driving. Plus, when is the last time a kid waved a $20 at you so you could buy him a 4 pack of Ten Fidy or Dogfish head 90. If kids drink beer, they’re more likely to suck down a bunch of bud lime or some sweet alcoholic product that’s aimed squarely at youth.

  7. Mr. Nuts says

    Terrific job by the Alstrom brothers for taking those knuckleheads at MADD on — because nobody else can out of fear for not being politically correct.

    Seriously, screwing down the BAC to .08%? That’s ridiculous — especially when tightening driving standards will produce far safer drivers.

    Great post.


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