Leave the Choice to Us

Last week, in “Kip Facilitates Removal of Energy Drinks from Den,” The Phillipian reported on the school administration’s, or more specifically, nutritionist Aggie Kip’s, decision to remove caffeinated drinks from The Den. While we understand that caffeine is a drug and that there are dangers in caffeine reliance and overconsumption, it should not be for the school to decide whether any individual student can put such substances into their body. At the very least, they should not remove our right to choose. We consider he vast majority of students here to be intelligent, responsible young people who can make decisions about what they want to consume and how much they can handle. There may be a select few who overuse caffeine products and endanger themselves, but that is a personal problem that should not inhibit the rest of the student body from enjoying caffeinated beverages. We strongly believe in the individual’s right to choose what he or she watches, consumes or does. In this regard, we think the Academy is making a huge mistake by removing caffeine from The Den. Drinking a caffeinated drink does not potentially harm any person but the drinker. As such, it is no one’s right but the individual to make choices for said individual. The same concept applies to the situation last year involving the “offensive” Green Cup Challenge video by Michael Kontaxis ’11. It is understandable that the school wants to distance itself from these issues, but why not allow students to decide for themselves what they want to watch or put in their body? Not showing Kontaxis’s video at the Green Cup Challenge film competition was fine, but demanding its removal from YouTube was a harsh overreaction. Simply asking Kontaxis to remove any PA references would have been sufficient. Yet the Green Cup Challenge organization found it necessary to police the individual choices of our entire student body rather than allowing students a choice on what they deem is appropriate. The question of personal decision-making is a hotly debated issue not only at Andover, but in all echelons of society. We have a tendency to rashly overreact and try to prevent issues like these from arising. However, these issues would be better left to each individual’s discretion. For instance, television shows like “South Park” and “Family Guy” have come under scrutiny from parents and religious groups for “questionable content.” The majority of modern satellite television and cable providers provide parental locks that can prevent children from viewing questionable material. Rather than taking these shows off the air, each parent is given the ability to set locks on certain channels. To use a more widepsread and hotly debated example, before the recession became the imminent concern the American political climate was dominated by questions about the morality of abortion. Though we may not agree with either side entirely, we are more closely sympathetic towards the pro-choice group because it is just that: a choice. We are of the opinion that abortion is a personal decision that only affects the person having the abortion. If one is morally or religiously opposed to abortion, then one shouldn’t get an abortion. Each person, pro-life or pro-choice, has every right to not get an abortion, just as they should have every right to have one. In a similar, although far more trivial, manner, we think this same entitlement to choice should be applied to issues such as caffeine at Andover We believe it is necessary at this point to state that, by expressing our opinion on abortion, we by no means intend to impose our opinions on others. We only hope that others will respect that opinion and not turn this into an argument about the morality of abortion. The very crux of our argument is that each person should make his or her own decision about that morality and be allowed to live by it. Why is it necessary to abridge the rights of others who have different views? What gives someone the right to govern the actions of others when those actions aren’t harmful to anyone but themselves? Maybe if caffeinated driving caused hundreds of thousands of deaths each year, we would understand. We’ve never heard of such a thing. Until such a problem arises, we will strongly stand by our convictions and support the individual right to make personal decisions. Jesse Bielasiak is a three-year Upper from Bloomington, IN and a Features Editor for The Phillipian. Ryan Yost is a three-year Upper from Aspinwall, PA and a Features Editor for The Phillipian.