Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dumbass Conservative Legislation Du Jour

Maybe Utah will ban that horrid Tom Cruise movie “Cocktail” while they’re at it:
Senate Panel Approves Hiding Restaurant Bartenders

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A Utah Senate committee has approved a bill that would hide the preparation of alcoholic drinks behind 10-foot-high walls in restaurants and make it illegal to appear drunk.

Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, says Senate Bill 187 is intended to eliminate anything resembling a bar in restaurants.

His measure also would redefine what it means to be intoxicated in Utah, gutting a Utah Supreme Court ruling that said simply being a drunk is not a crime. Under Valentine's bill, it would be illegal for anyone to look like they are drunk.

The bill passed unanimously on Friday. It will now be debated on the Senate floor.

Oh, Utah. Please, don’t ever change. I’d lose all of my best material! You’re already the country’s biggest consumer of porn. And now you want to treat your bartenders like sweatshop workers, while denying customers the time-honored therapy of pouring one's heart out while knocking back the shots. Who do you think you're fooling, anyway? Everyone knows you're just like the rest of us, so get off your high horse.

Of course, I’ll be shocked if this bill makes it anywhere near law. For one thing, making it illegal to “appear drunk” doesn’t pass my constitutional sniff test, it’s too subjective. That pretense could be used to round up anyone.

But really, these laws meant to restrict alcohol consumption are never very successful, are they? Back when I lived in rural Kentucky we had to drive 40 minutes across the state line into Tennessee to get to the nearest beer. Naturally because it was such a hassle, we bought our beer by the case, not the six pack. I definitely drank more than I would have otherwise.

Similarly, back in the ‘80s I went to Salt Lake City with a friend and ordered a mixed drink at a restaurant, for the sheer experience. Back then the rules were a little different: the server brought you a glass and your mixer; you had to go outside the restaurant to a window to buy one of those little bottles of booze like you used to get on airplanes. Needless to say, I got sloshed, since there was more alochol in that airplane-sized bottle than would ordinarily have been poured into a mixed drink.

Prohibition of otherwise legal substances simply doesn’t work, people. Just get over it.

Then again, as with so much conservative legislation, I'm not sure the intent really is to prevent a behavior. I think it's to punish it. I don't think anyone in rural Kentucky really cared that we drank beer because heck, they were all drinking too. The point was to punish us for doing it, by making us take an hour and a half out of the day and schlep across the state line to make our purchase.

And I really don't get the point of that. That's just a mean-spirited way of looking at the law.