All right, that's enough about the saccharin. Stop whining and eat something good for you, for a change.

Since the announcement of the proposed ban on saccharin, the use of sarcasm in this country has risen to a dangerously high level. The fate of rats used to test the danger level of saccharin is nothing compared to the fate being wished on the Food and Drug Administration officials trying to carry out the law. The cry for human rights on the part of people who wish to be allowed the basic freedom of courting cancer contains some of the best rhetoric heard in these parts since the American Revolution.

Why? Is artificially-flavored cola from an aluminum can so aromatic and divine-tasting that a life without it is no life at all? Are the people who drink large quantities of it so strikingly shapely that the only proper response is an undying loyalty to the benevolent fizzle?

No, you can't get that much of a howl by taking candy from a baby, let alone from taking away a candy-substitute from anybody who has just found out what that tastes like.

What is being removed here is the last of the really good sins: Gluttony.

The others went some time ago. Lust was found to be beneficial to the circulation - blood and social - and the psyche. Sloth changed its name to relaxation. Pride and anger are being taught as assertiveness. Envy began to call itself ambition. Covetousness is good for the economy.

That left gluttony, but the outlets of gluttony have been steadily reduced over the years.

Food gluttony lost its popularity decades ago, with the invention of the two-piece bathing suit. Cigarettes took its place successfully for a while, but health considerations aside, as they always are when we consider what we really consider important in life, this has not worked out well lately. A good glutton doesn't like having to interrupt his gluttony by fighting with the person next to him who is claiming smoke poisoning.

This left guzzling bubby brown liquids to excess as the only acceptable form of sin left in the world. It wasn't much, compared to, say, lust in its heyday, but it was all we had. Now is it, too, about to go?

No wonder morally upright citizens are rising in indignation.