Dick Durbin Goes Monster Hunting

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Jacob Sullum dissects the latest mass hyperventilation over energy drinks.

Monster now sells between 500 million and 1 billion cans of its energy drink per year. (Disclosure: I’m probably responsible for 2-3 percent of the company’s sales.) Apparently, over the last six years, there have been six deaths that might have been connected to the drink. This has sent the FDA, Sen. Richard Durbin, and Bloomberg News into fits of save the children.

Note too the bullshit use of  the “emergency room visits” statistic. Remember, this does not mean that the drink caused any of those emergency room visits. It means that x number of people, when asked by an emergency room doctor what they had consumed in the last 24 hours, mentioned that they had drank a Monster. For example, if  you’re in the ER because you got kicked in the face while attempting to make love to an elephant, but tell the doctor that you had consumed a Monster the night before you were overwhelmed with proboscidean lust, that would be considered an energy drink-related emergency room visit.  Any drug or food product that becomes popular over a short period of time will see a sharp rise in “x-related emergency room visits,” simply because a higher percentage of the population is using the product.

Put another way, if someone were to collect the data, I’ll bet there has also been a sharp increase in the number of “Monster-related visits” to Montana, the living room, and  T.G.I. Fridays. (I’d also be willing to bet that there is a statistically significant correlation between energy drink consumption and trips to the gym. Which is probably a good thing, no?)

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35 Responses to “Dick Durbin Goes Monster Hunting”

  1. #1 |  Dan Z | 

    The fact that an overweight 30 year old like me can consume 3 in a span of 7 hours with no side effects just gives an even clearer indication to how much bullshit this is. People (like the mother of the 14yr old in the latest suit) need to take some accountability, if you dont want your kid drinking Monster, own up and be a parent and know what your kid is doing.

  2. #2 |  Fred | 

    You can find the amount of caffeine in various drinks here

    P.S I’m now going to have to spend all day trying to figure
    Out how to use “proboscidean lust” in a sentence.

  3. #3 |  Corneliusm | 

    I have a 24 oz can of Monster (nearly empty) sitting right here. Label has a warning that reads: “Limit 2 cans per day. Not recommended for children, pregnant women or people sensitive to caffeine.”

    I would imagine that should suffice.

  4. #4 |  Mike | 

    Corneliusm, that WOULD suffice, for an intelligent person. We aren’t dealing with those. We are dealing with people who are So Much Smarter Than Us, therefore they want to Limit Our Choices, For Our Own Good.

    It’s all about control, and political power. Do they have the power to control our lives, even to the level of dictating what liquids we can drink? The powermad think they do!

    “(item) is bad for you” is a fill-in-the-blank excuse. Remove Monster and something, anything, will take its place. It’s not about an item being unhealthy. It’s about controlling people’s lives, for their own good of course.

  5. #5 |  M.A.DeLuca | 

    News flash: bureaucrats once again confuse correlation with causation.

    And I’m with Fred … proboscidean lust is too good to pass up.

  6. #6 |  sheenyglass | 

    “For example, if you’re in the ER because you got kicked in the face while attempting to make love to an elephant”

    Forget saving the children. We should be banning monster for the sake of the elephants!

  7. #7 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Any drug or food product that becomes popular over a short period of time will see a sharp rise in “x-related emergency room visits,” simply because a higher percentage of the population is using the product.

    Any statistician worth a damn would know that you would want to control for consumption patterns in the overall population so that you wont be fooled into thinking there is a problem with the drug or food product when in fact there is not.

    But things like honesty never ever stop a politician. Frankly, I think they are all psychopaths myself. Anyone who desires to have power over other people is a sick fuck and is the very last person who should have that power.

  8. #8 |  Steve Verdon | 

    @ Mike #4,

    Try reading the last chapters of de Toqueville’s Democracy in America (this one in particular). He predicted this outcome a couple of centuries ago.

    But it would seem that if despotism were to be established amongst the democratic nations of our days, it might assume a different character; it would be more extensive and more mild; it would degrade men without tormenting them.


    When I consider the petty passions of our contemporaries, the mildness of their manners, the extent of their education, the purity of their religion, the gentleness of their morality, their regular and industrious habits, and the restraint which they almost all observe in their vices no less than in their virtues, I have no fear that they will meet with tyrants in their rulers, but rather guardians. 347 I think then that the species of oppression by which democratic nations are menaced is unlike anything which ever before existed in the world: our contemporaries will find no prototype of it in their memories. I am trying myself to choose an expression which will accurately convey the whole of the idea I have formed of it, but in vain; the old words “despotism” and “tyranny” are inappropriate: the thing itself is new; and since I cannot name it, I must attempt to define it.


    Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications, and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent, if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks on the contrary to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness: it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances — what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living? Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range, and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself.


    After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp, and fashioned them at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a net-work of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided: men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting: such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

    Talk about fucking prescient….

  9. #9 |  thomasblair | 

    The real question is: where can I get some 5150 at 500 mg/oz?

    “…a resealable, highly portable, bottle of concentrated caffeine.”

  10. #10 |  Len | 

    My question is why drink so many? I’ve had these things and flavor wise nothing great. I used to drink a lot of redbull to stay awake playing poker through the night and they helped by making me have to get up and piss every half hour.

  11. #11 |  Judas Peckerwood | 

    The only possible societal good of a ban on Monster energy drinks would be the humiliation and anguish of all those douches sporting Monster “M” logo tattoos.

  12. #12 |  En Passant | 

    With proboscidean lust, a young man,
    Downed Monster in an extra-large can,
    He courted a cyclotis
    He happened to to notice,
    But to his great disappointment, she ran.

  13. #13 |  Brandon | 

    Dick Durbin is just jealous of the attention that Chucky “Bitchtits” Schumer got for his Four Loko demagoguery. This ridiculous cunt has been a professional parasite since 1982, and unfortunately he’s there until 2014 at least. This is one of the reasons people (justly) hate Illinois.

  14. #14 |  John David Galt | 

    Does it even help to respond to this type of crazy charges?

    After all, a large part of the world now think they “know” that the Florida face-eater was high on “bath salts” even though the autopsy shows he wasn’t, and that is not likely to change. People hear what they are willing to believe.

    Speaking of which, Michael Mann’s libel suit against the National Review was launched today. His is another hoax which has lasted long after it’s disproven and is unlikely to stop when the verdict is reached, even if the good guys win.

  15. #15 |  Quiet Desperation | 

    Each to his own, but, yeesh, how can you people put that shit into your bodies? And the ones that binge on it… cripes, you can kill yourself drinking too much water (dilutional hyponatremia).

    Brilliant logo design, though.

  16. #16 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    #12 En Passant:
    For a split second there I thought you said Clitoris. LOL. Shows how cultured I a m.

  17. #17 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    #13 Brandon:
    I’m a resident of the Central IL region and I don’t really hate it. Maybe being a bit removed from the hyper aggressive statism (and traffic) of Chicago makes it more tolerable. With that said, my wife and I are doing research and might be getting out of here before too long. I wonder if you or any other commenters might recommend a more hospitable area. A place that is more libertarian friendly, perhaps. And New Hampshire is probably out because my wife grew up in Mexico and doesn’t particularly dig brutal winters. I’d appreciate any suggestions.

  18. #18 |  JLS | 

    Thank you Helmut#15!

    I was thinking I was probably the the only one on here who didn’t know the word “cyclotis”

  19. #19 |  JLS | 

    Helmut I think you’d have to leave America to find a place that is more libertarian freindly but if you stay here I have observed that people generally have more freedom and maybe a little less of the police state presence in unincorporated areas.

    I recently lived in an unincorporated community after having lived in a city with a brutal police and city council with a nanny state mentality and I was blown away by the difference. It was like night and day. No permits, no rules against pretty much everything. We still had county sheriffs but they weren’t anything like the militarized city police from where I was from.

  20. #20 |  divadab | 

    @ Helmut — what JLS said, plus: make sure you check out the local sheriff’s reputation before you move. Also – IMHO you are better off in a medicinal marijuana State – at least, in a friendly county in a mmj state. For example, Humboldt and Trinity COunties in CA are fine rural counties with tolerant sheriffs. Kern or San Diego Counties? Stay Away!

    Caveat EMptor.
    Do you own research.
    Rent before you buy.
    And keep your powder dry!

    Good luck!

  21. #21 |  divadab | 

    And another thing – Isn;t that MOster stuff what made Andrew Breitbart into such a toxic loudmouth asshole, frothing at the mouth until he blew out his gaskets?

  22. #22 |  divadab | 

    Or was it the cocaine?

  23. #23 |  Bill | 

    I’m not disputing the assertion about how the cases are reported, but I tried to find some supplemental information about really didn’t see anything authoritative. I can easily see something along the lines of a list that they ask people about, or “If any of these are mentioned, record it” where ‘these’ would be the boogeyman substance du jour. But Absent that, how would they possibly be able to do this? Going back to a quip a great undergrad stats professor made “80% of Heroin users started out with Marijuana. 100% started out on Water or Mother’s milk” – how do they isolate it? Even if you assume the methodology was valid (which clearly it isn’t), what about interactions? Maybe Monsters is fine, but monster and Jenkem together causes some nasty interaction. Seems that outside of everything else, the big problem is that it’s self-reported – I could be too sick to give a correct list, I could have forgotten to mention it or not deemed it noteworthy and certainly I could neglect to mention it b/c I was also using an illicit substance. Seems like blood tests would be warranted except I guess not everyone gets a blood test. As everyone else has noted, the methodology has so many flaws it almost seems like the only people that would support/use/accept it are media whores and opportunist politicians.

  24. #24 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    JLS & divadab:

    Thanks for the advice. My dad lives in an unincorporated area and I have made some of the observations JLS mentioned. I am more inclined to live in an urban area, but not necessarily a mega city (hence my remark about Chicago). I tend to agree with divadab’s comment about medical marijuana states. Indeed, I have looked at Colorado. Hell, we recently started talking about Hawaii. Med MJ state and it would actually be like going to another country in many ways, for obvious reasons. Cost of living would be a concern though, as real estate is pricy and good are expensive because they have to be shipped in. Anyway, thanks for your input guys. I’ll do plenty of research, because I’ve grown skeptical about the idea of “greener pastures” over the years.

  25. #25 |  Fred | 

    Well I figured out how to use “proboscidean lust”
    In a sentence, now I ‘m no longer allowed in the hardware store.

  26. #26 |  JLS | 

    Helmut “…more inclined to live in an urban area, but not necessarily a mega city”

    Kind of off the police state subject but an area I really like that would fit that description is the Lafayette or Breaux Bridge area in Louisiana. Most freindly people you’ll ever meet and awesome food.

  27. #27 |  JLS | 

    Fred-lol I’m glad you didn’t use that at the zoo, you might be looking at a sex offense charge!

  28. #28 |  John Thacker | 

    It’s just an excuse to go after something that the lower class and/or the young use. Foie gras is, I think, about the only high class thing that has ever been targeted similarly, and those bans have been a lot less successful.

  29. #29 |  KPRyan | 

    I’m with (#10) Len above.

    Stuff takes like shit and does not work as advertised.

    What’s funny isn’t that 1 politician wants to regulate it.
    What funny is that people buy it.

  30. #30 |  Ed Kline | 

    “(I’d also be willing to bet that there is a statistically significant correlation between energy drink consumption and trips to the gym. Which is probably a good thing, no?)”

    No, it is not a good thing. Drinking 240 mgs of caffeine and working out is a recipe for disaster for the small percentage of the population that have undiagnosed Long QT syndrome. ( about 1 out of every 2500 people minimally) The risk for sudden cardiac death is especially bad for young people because they have no idea they have this condition, and tend to assume they are bulletproof.
    So while I think Durbin is a turd, and that any proposed legislation or ban won’t really help at all ( people will just drink obscene amounts of caffeine from Starbuck instead), I also have no doubt that energy drinks have been and will continue to be a contributing factor in the sudden deaths of young people.

  31. #31 |  theCL Report: Loopholes | 

    […] Dick Durbin Goes Monster Hunting […]

  32. #32 |  Jay | 


    Colorado is a great state, but if am. 64 passes, this state will be flooded with rec users, which will result in LEO being allowed to draw blood roadside to test for thc, with absurdly low levels being considered ‘intoxicated’.

    I’m a patient and got pulled over in a MMJ friendly town just south of Denver. The cop didn’t at all care about the 2 ounces I was carrying (just purchased), but was more concerned about when I had smoked last. I was smart enough to say, ‘yesterday’. He said that his jurisdiction has been told to arrest and charge DUI (Drugs) for anyone that admits smoking marijuana during the previous twelve hours, even a single hit or dose.

    The ng/mL levels being proposed are low enough that nearly anyone who consumes MMJ will be driving over the limit for days after.


  33. #33 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    Good points and thanks for the info. Yeah, you were smart to say yesterday. The whole 12 hour thing is absurd. The relative dangers of driving under the influence of Marijuana need to be studied more in-depth.

    I have, of course heard many people say that driving w/ MJ on board is not at all dangerous and, in fact, makes them concentrate more. Marijuana, in my limited experience, does tend to slow time down, so perhaps this is true. I still wouldn’t recommend smoking a whole bunch and then hopping behind the wheel shortly after. Maybe if states start legalizing, this will come with time. However, I think you are probably right to be concerned that this will just become another reason for prolonged investigatory stops and intrusions. No doubt states will deem it necessary to to take these steps to satisfy the social conservatives who love nothing more to fuck with pot users or anyone else that doesn’t live a life as boring as they do.

  34. #34 |  Chris | 

    You account for 2-3% of their sales? I wondered who was drinking the other 3%.

  35. #35 |  Bergman | 

    I read The Agitator today. I also stubbed my toe. Obviously, reading blogs causes stubbed toes. I could also point out that everybody who dies in the U.S. today did so while all of the senators in the Senate were elected to office…

    Re: thomasblair, #9: