Go Cups Are the Ultimate Symbol of American Freedom


This is the downside of never going below the Mason-Dixon line: missing out New Orleans’ alcoholic to-go cups. Furthermore, according to Sociological Images’ Lisa Wade, go cups also exemplify how easily people will internalize laws that take away a freedom as simple as imbibing wherever you want.

For anybody else who’s never been to NOLA either, you can order a drink anywhere, take it with you in a plastic cup and drink it on the street. NOLA also has drive-through daiquiri stands, by which they discourage drunk driving by mandating that the complementary straw remains wrapped and sitting on top of the daiquiri lid until you get to your destination.

Quelle liberté! For Wade, it throws into sharp relief the invisible lack of freedom we have in parts of the States without go-cups:

Dolores’ experience is a great example of how we internalize rules invented by humans to the point where they feel like laws of nature. In our daily lives in Los Angeles, California, where we both live, we hang out together and drink alcohol under the local regulations. We rarely feel constrained by these because we forget that it could be another way. This is the power of culture to make alternative ways of life invisible and, as a result, gain massive public conformity to arbitrary norms and laws.

Having grown up in puritan Massachusetts, drinking in public seems like the ultimate luxury. It also seems like the ultimate taboo because of the law and all the social shame it engenders, one that I would break in my inevitable descent into alcoholism. Maybe it shouldn’t be that way. Then again, from what I hear about Bourbon Street, there does seem to be a downside to go cups, after all.

Image via Shutterstock.

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