Being a semi-old coot, I don’t have much experience with hipster retailer Urban Outfitters. I visited one of their stores a few years ago to grab a gift card for my niece. My young daughter liked the set-up and excitedly told a pierced and tatted counter girl, “this place is almost as cool as WalMart!”
Miss Counterculture didn’t find this as amusing as I did.
To differentiate themselves from the WalMarts of the world, UO offers irreverent products aimed at their college-age clientele. Among the trendy and tacky wares, they feature a mug with an obviously fake prescription for coffee. “Drink one mug by mouth, repeat until awake and alert,” reads the Rx to “Mr. Java Joe Espresso.”
Twenty-three state Attorneys General with far too much time on their hands were shocked –shocked – at this novelty coffee mug. Something must be done! they cried and leapt into action with a Strongly Worded Letter (pdf).
On behalf of the undersigned Attorneys General, we request that Urban Outfitters immediately cease sales of your “Prescription Line” of glasses, coasters, mugs, drink holders and related products that mimic prescription pill bottles and prescription pads.
As you may be aware, there is a national health crisis related to the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs. As Attorneys General, we have prosecuted and engaged in outreach to stop this epidemic. We are actively engaged in a campaign of environmental change to educate the public that abuse of prescription drugs is not safe simply because the medication originated from a doctor. By putting these highly recognizable labels on your products you are undermining our efforts. These products demean the thousands of deaths that occur each month in the United States from accidental overdoses.
These products are not in any way fun or humorous but make light of this rampant problem. We invite you to pull these products from your shelves and join with us to fight prescription drug abuse.
What kind of crazy person would see a student crossing the quad, glance at her novelty mug and think: “That evokes a prescription bottle. Which reminds me, I recently read about my state’s not-at-all-overpaid attorney general actively engaging in a campaign of environmental change to educate the public that abuse of prescription drugs is very, very bad. I daresay that this coffee mug undermines that noble effort and mocks the death of thousands!”
Even if there were a person this unhinged, why on earth would they think they have a right to stop the sale of not-terribly-funny coffee mugs? Whenever your state government says they don’t have enough money for courts, schools or health care, remember that 23 of the highest-ranking officials had enough resources to waste on novelty drinkware.
Urban Outfitters has a right to sell these cups without bullying from nanny-state enforcers. Now excuse me while I top off my far more impressive coffee mug.