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Cocaine in a Can Beats Politicians in a Lather

By Lenore Skenazy

Good citizens! Parents! Upstanding folk willing to fight for the purity of our children's souls and nostrils! Do you realize what is coming soon to a store near you?
Cocaine! Yes, actual cocaine that your CHILDREN CAN BUY!

OK, so it's not cocaine cocaine, the addictive powder that supermodels snort before being fired and instantly re-hired again. No, I'm talking about a new energy beverage that has chosen the name "Cocaine."

Though this caffeinated drink contains nothing illegal, should we not be up in arms about it anyway? Should we not rage and foam as if we were protecting our children from REAL drugs? Should we not salute the brave politicians coming forth, at least here in my town of New York City, to propose a boycott of this off-brand Red Bull knockoff no one would have heard of were it not for all this publicity?

Of course we should! Or shouldn't. Or whatever -- these double negatives are tripping me up (and not just because I just downed a can of Cocaine and my heart is racing). Hooray for leaders bold enough to proclaim they disapprove of drug abuse!

The only problem? Some of us see zero connection between Cocaine the drink and kids taking cocaine, the drug.

All grandstanding ever-so-reluctantly aside, I GET that if "Cocaine" becomes popular, kids will start talking about "cocaine" all the time. I even get that the word could lose its edge. What I don't get is why anyone assumes that this will lead to actual drug abuse.

One of our city council members here, Letitia James, has called the drink a "legal precursor to an illegal product." But if that's the way things work, shouldn't we have seen a flood of middle aged matrons heading to hash dens after Yves St. Laurent introduced the scent "Opium"?

Like the smell? You'll LOVE opiate addiction!

Shouldn't kids have started stockpiling weapons once they were introduced to the candy called Warheads? Or even earlier, upon chewing Bazooka? "Gee, THIS Bazooka doesn't seem dangerous. Guess I'll go buy a real one."

Come to think of it, how about the fact that we call Coca-Cola by the same nickname as cocaine? Why wasn't Coke the gateway to coke?

Because people, even Americans, and even young ones, understand the difference between brand names and illegal substances. If anything, a drink that calls itself "Cocaine" is so over the top it is practically begging to become an object lesson-You're drinking Cocaine, son? Do you realize REAL cocaine could rot your brain forever? Don't you DARE let me ... " etc. etc.

Now imagine if the "Cocaine" folks had called their product "Milk":
"Son, what are you drinking?"
"Good boy."

That would be pretty low. About as low as naming a gas-guzzler a "Sequoia" or -- can you imagine? -- naming an environmentally disastrous set of laws the "Clear Skies Initiative."

Names that deliberately mislead are evil. Stupid publicity stunts are just stupid publicity stunts, the way stupid political declarations are just stupid publicity stunt-enablers.

And that's not just the Cocaine talking. That's my brain on Cocaine. Any questions?

Lenore Skenazy is a columnist at The New York Daily News (lskenazy@nydailynews.com).

Categories: Advice, Ideas & Stories, MomShare,

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