The neo-prohibitionist organization Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) released a statement yesterday claiming that beer logos on cars, toys and at the NASCAR track “Confuse Young Kids About Drinking and Driving.” Boy these organizations think kids are pretty stupid, don’t they.
Now I’m not a fan of car racing. I follow some sports, but it’s just not a huge part of my life. I have nothing against them per se although I do think our obsession with sports in general distracts people from more important issues, but that’s probably just me. And the strange thing is I don’t really like the big beer companies sponsoring sports and the attendant ads very much, but on wholly different grounds. For me it’s about the message they’re sending about what beer is and how it should be consumed where I believe most of their advertising perpetuates false and misleading information about beer itself. And I think this has done great harm to beer’s image over the last several decades making it harder for craft brewers to compete.
But the one sport I hate with a passion even more is using kids as an excuse to further an agenda. It’s a time-honored strategy and neo-prohibitionists have honed it to a fine art. Don’t like something other people are doing? Claim it’s bad for the kids. It’s always about the freaking kids. This just so frys my bacon. I have kids. Many, if not most, of the hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of people whose livelihoods depend on beer from brewers to distributors to salesman to truck drivers to the ad agency people who come up with the ads have kids, too. I don’t see them coming unglued because a toy car has a Budweiser logo on it. Now I wouldn’t buy my son a Bud car because I don’t like Bud. But he does have a Radeberger Pilsner truck I bought him in Germany. And he has some trucks with craft brewer logos on them and some with other import beers like Murphy’s (before Heineken bought them). Do I think he’s going to be harmed because of this? Of course not. Only someone uninvolved with their children could come to that conclusion. There are plenty of real threats I’m worried about in raising my children. Even just talking about this one is a waste of my time.
But the neo-prohibitionists are serious. They really think this is the problem that needs addressing. Anything, anything that has to do with adults enjoying alcohol must be stopped. It must not be allowed. If anyone can abuse it, then none of us are safe until alcohol is once again outlawed. And we all now how well that worked out the last time we tried it. In fact, it’s never worked out when any body’s tried it. They may dress it up as concern for the kids and even for the public at large but this is just a grubby little attempt at controlling the lives of all Americans in a way the majority of Americans don’t want. That’s supposed to matter in a democracy, what the majority of people want. But minority opinions are increasingly pushing their way to the front of the line with misinformation, propaganda and deep pockets.
And while I’m ranting, how about euphemistic names that neo-prohibitionists use to obfuscate their true purpose. This one cracks me up: “Science for the Public Interest.” Science? Their press release is just anecdotal hogwash with no scientific basis whatsoever. It’s pure opinion, and that would be fine as long as they said so. And who’s public interest are they representing. Not mine. Not the thousands and thousands of brewery and related industry workers and their families. Their mission statement claims they “represent the citizen’s interests” but are all citizen’s interests the same? How could they be? So they’re really pushing a particular, if unstated, agenda. But if they want truth in advertising isn’t it only right that they should begin with their own name? If their very name is misleading and doesn’t really convey their true purpose why should we believe anything they have to say? I have a hard time giving credence to any organization who claims a higher moral ground but can’t even manage honesty in their own name.
A couple of my son Porter’s toy trucks. Radeberger, who makes a fantastic pilsner and Anderson Valley Brewing, an environmentally friendly brewery that is a huge part of its local economy. And the problem with these is …? Let’s see, global warming, no universal health care, a war in Iraq, record deficit, secret spying on Americans by our own government, the Patriot Act, AIDS in Africa, the growing scarcity of oil and water, and on and on but no, this is the big problem. Could we please get some perspective?