While catching up on my Google Reader reading after a nice weekend away with friends up in North Jersey (which we’ll post about soon), I started reading about the controversy that Flying Fish has gotten into with the Turnpike Authority and Mothers Against Drunk Driving over the Exit Series beers. It seems that these organizations think using exits from the Turnpike is somehow promoting drinking and driving. Well, here’s my take on the whole situation.
‘What exit?’ has become a source of ribbing that those from other states have given to us Jerseyites. I remember going to a marching band camp in high school (sure, go ahead…laugh all you want) with kids from all over the country, and as soon as one of the kids knew I was from Jersey he said ‘I’m supposed to ask you: what exit?’ So when I heard that Flying Fish was doing this Exit Series, I thought it was a great idea to turn this joke around, as if to say ‘OK, not only will we tell you about our exits – proudly – we’ll give you some great beer on top of that!’ I’m all about those with Jersey pride.
But I never for one moment thought that using exits would in fact be encouraging people to drive while intoxicated. I didn’t think of it before reading the article, and I’m still scratching my head after reading. I’m certainly not cavalier when it comes to drinking while driving; it is a stupid, selfish act to get behind the wheel while not being fully capable of handling the responsibility – and endangering the lives of those on the road and inside the car. Having said that, if someone decides to get drunk by having too many Exit 4s and then takes it on the road, that is a person with their own issues – and that is NOT the fault of Flying Fish. The people who I have talked to about the Exit Series and were excited about it were folks that a) had at least half a brain, b) show signs of common sense and decency, and c) enjoy beer for its flavor and do not look to beer as a launching pad to inebriation.
From the article, it sounds like Flying Fish and the Turnpike Authority have reached an understanding, which is fine. After all, the beers do not have the Turnpike logo; we all know the exits by heart in Jersey anyway, so having the logo would be superfluous. As far as MADD goes, while I have a lot of respect for what they do as a whole, I don’t see their argument here. This is about Jersey pride – and nothing else.
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