News & Observer columnist Barry Saunders chides a New York chapter of the NAACP for opposing Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on big sugary sodas, which was slapped down by a judge. Saunders goes on to argue in favor of government intervention to save us from ourselves.

If, however, you argue that people have a right to eat and drink what and as much as they want, you have to be ready to help pay for that “freedom.”

As scientists noted in my column Monday, people will mindlessly eat and drink as much food or beverage as you set in front of them. Why do you think movie theaters can sell those insanely large cups of soda that you have to dive into, swim a couple of laps in and then sip your way out of?

Because theaters are dark and no one can see us being pigs.

In a free society, individuals have the right to make irresponsible decisions, but those individuals also have the responsibility for the consequences. Regulations are appropriate when they protect society from serious harms we can’t reasonably be expected to fend off ourselves: lead in paint, toxins in water, etc. When we impose regulations to protect us from ourselves over things we can reasonably be expected to control ourselves — how much soda we drink — we have jumped onto the slippery slope where very few decisions don’t qualify for government intervention.