Laws: Stupidity killed the Coke drinker

Last updated 05:00 17/02/2013
Natasha Marie Harris
ADDICTED: Natasha Harris didn't like being without the fizzy drink.

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OPINION: One of the great childhood choices of my generation was the fizzy drink. They were relatively rare treats and as a consequence, kids either became Coca Cola or Fanta fans with a few choosing the less complex lemonade.

For some odd reason, I always wanted creaming soda and so missed out entirely. I had a similar experience this past Valentine's Day.

One thing we did know though was that too much fizzy was not good for you. Milk and water were the staples, with maybe the occasional cordial.

The rise of fizzy has been a phenomenon of the past fifty years. There's a correlation with increased obesity, poor diet and piss-poor parenting. But dead Southland mother of eight, Natasha Harris, must be the first Darwin Award winner to choose fizzy as her passage into the afterlife.

She joins an apocryphal German, who gassed himself in a small room after consuming copious amounts of fermented cabbage, as a warning that stupidity can kill. And food. Especially when you combine both.

Natasha Harris had a bizarre addiction to Coke. The bottled stuff, not the marching powder. She would drink six to ten a litres a day, add thirty cigarettes and not even having most of her teeth pulled, and children born with no enamel on their teeth, could stop her.

Incredibly, she could breed. She had eight children by thirty, and then the Coke did her in. But even from beyond the grave, Harris is having her influence.

She has managed to convince a gullible Southland coroner, David Crerar, that the real cause of her demise was not total stupidity. This is some feat, when it seems so blindingly obvious. Our Darwin winner technically demised due to cardiac arythmia, noted the coroner.

But Crerar also wants warning labels on all Coca Cola bottles and cans from now on. To warn people that excessive consumption of this caffeine-inclusive product could be bad for you.

Sorry? If I drank six to ten litres of water a day, it would be bad for me! Of anything, dear Lord. Combine it with the daily thirty ciggies, and the occasional nibble of snack instead of any real meal, and I'm pretty sure I could suicide too.

Which is the problem with this new breed of coroners created by the 2006 Coroners Act. They are becoming increasingly draconian in their recommendations - linking one odd death or one accidental fatality to some kind of systemic failing in our society.

The latest is the demand from Wellington coroner Ian Smith that all cyclists compulsorily wear high-visibility vests the moment they get on their bikes. This after a cycling policeman was killed by a careless truck driver.

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Rotorua coroner Wallace Bain made a similar logic leap when demanding tough new laws against cyber bullies after a 17 year old girl killed herself following a break-up with her boyfriend. As it turned out, someone being beastly on Facebook to themselves (she actually set up the page that denigrated her!) wasn't the cause of death but, hey. Let's change the world anyway.

Coroners need to get a grip. People do stupid things. Sometimes they get killed and sometimes they kill - like the inattentive Eastbourne truck driver. But the rest of us don't need our freedoms curtailed because of their stupidity.

- Sunday Star Times

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