Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Mad About You

The American Beverage Institute asks and answers the question Why Would MADD Oppose Obama's Beer Summit?:

Today, the American Beverage Institute (ABI) criticized Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for publicly lamenting that President Obama chose to hold a "Beer Summit" in an effort to cool tensions between the gentlemen involved in the recent police incident in Cambridge.

"MADD is no longer an organization that opposes drunk driving, but an anti-alcohol group that has been hijacked by the modern day temperance movement," said Sarah Longwell, ABI Managing Director. "That someone in a position of leadership at MADD would criticize President Obama for simply drinking beer, illustrates the neoprohibitionist mentality that now dominates the group."

Last week, President Obama met with the men involved in the Cambridge police incident in an attempt to diffuse the situation. Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, and Cambridge police Sergeant James Crowley enjoyed cold beers while working out their differences. But in an interview this weekend, the President of the Delaware chapter of MADD, Nancy Raynor, expressed concern that the event could send the wrong message to young people who saw the president drinking on TV.

"MADD's position on the 'Beer Summit' should remind Americans that the group once dedicated to preventing drunk driving has transitioned into leading the anti-alcohol movement," said Longwell. "MADD has even been denounced by its founder Candy Lightner as 'very neo-prohibitionist.'"

MADD is now focused on preventing any alcohol consumption prior to driving through its support for polices like sobriety checkpoints, which serve to scare drivers who may have enjoyed one drink prior to driving home. Recently, MADD went so far as to denounce New Jersey's Flying Fish Brewery for naming its beers after turnpike exits, claiming that the brewery was promoting drunk driving.

MADD is a perfect example of an organization that was formed with perfectly good intentions in mind, but has been hijacked by zealots who have steered the group into areas far outside the scope originally envisioned. It's one thing to campaign to prevent drunk driving. But more and more the goal of MADD seems to be to prevent drinking in general. If that's the position they want to embrace they should at least have the decency to change the group's name to something that better reflects their true intentions. Something like:

MAD-Mothers Against Drinking

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