Is my ethical radar so skewed and damaged?
I am absolutely fascinated by the campaign surrounding the ballot measure in Massachusetts that would expand wine sales into grocery stores. Currently you can only buy wine at "package stores" in the state.
Without hearing any of the rhetoric from either side in the campaign you would b confronted with this question: "Should Grocery Stores Be allowed to sell Wine"?
…..(the sound of silence)…..I know….Me too!…I’m not sure I even "get" the question or why it needs to be asked. A big, thunderous "DUH" is really all I can muster in response to the question.
However, "alcohol politics" being among the type that most motivates folks toward creative reasoning, we get responses such as this:
"It is a law
enforcement issue," Somerville Police Chief Robert Bradley told the
gathering. "We don’t want to make it easier for kids to get alcohol."
"I don’t think we’re sending a good message to minors by making it more convenient to purchase alcohol," said Freitas."
"This is not a consumer
issue," said Norfolk County Sheriff Michael Bellotti. "We understand as
folks who work here in public safety that this is a public safety
Reading these comments you’d almost forget that what’s being discussed here is buying a nice chardonnay to go with your swordfish.
I can honestly say that this kind of reasoning flies past me and my ability to comprehend in such a rapid and swift fashion I actually find myself questioning my own ability to reason on even the most elementary level. I find myself wondering, "Is my ethical radar so skewed and damaged, so compromised in some way, that this reason simply can not reach me?"
These are experienced law enforcement folk who are telling me that public safety and the future of their children will be compromised if members of the community are able to purchase peanut butter and Pinot Noir in the same building. How does that work?
Funding for the campaign against allowing wine sales in grocery stores is largely provided by owners of package stores and wine wholesalers. I understand their opposition. It’s about control of the market. It’s self serving. My compromised reasoning ability understands that argument.
The question remains, what is it about the issue of alcohol sales and consumption that that so thoroughly wipes clean the critical thinking skills of good people like those in MA who oppose this change in the law? Can it really be that the vestiges of the prohibitionist imperative, grounded in a uniquely American brand of Calvinism, is still having its effect three centuries hence? Does the lingering spirit of prohibitionism still enforce upon some people a compulsion to put signs around children’s necks, parade them in front of an audience and declare that these youngsters will be in grave danger if you allow the good people of MA to place Merlot in their cart next to the mayonnaise:
"The State House rally
included a group of children from the Cathedral Grammar School in
Boston who held signs that read, "No on 1." A woman held up a T-shirt
with the slogan, "Underage drinking is an adult problem."
What an utterly fascinating display of Americana.