The Ethical Quandry of Guns and Wine

Ever hear the term "Guns don’t kill, people kill"?

It has been the long term meme of the gun rights folk who point out that guns are not inherently dangerous unless they are in the hands of dangerous people.

Being one who tends to favor a bit of gun control legislation here and there I tend to scoff at what seems like  trite political slogan. Then I see stories like THIS ONE and realize that the slogan might only seem trite to me because it’s not my pet item that is the interest of regulators.

It appears that the Scottish Minister of Health, Andy Kerr, would like to ban a local made concoction called "Buckfast", otherwise known as "Buckie". It’s a red wine based drink that comes in at 15% alcohol and has a good dash of caffeine in it. Apparently it is the drink of choice of young folk in the region looking to tie one on.

As Minister Kerr puts it, "There’s something different about that drink."

The local drinks industry in the area point out that it’s hardly fair to come down on a single drink, calling for its bannnig, when the problem is not with the drink itself, but with those who drink it.

It should be no surprise that I fall in line with those who say that banning a particular drink won’t address a problem that is clearly identified with irresponsible people drinking in irresponsible ways. It should be even clearer that this line of thinking doesn’t fall in line with my tendency to scoff at those who would argue that "guns don’t kill, people kill."

Every now and then I bump up against these ethical quandaries and problems in the consistency of my reasoning. In most cases I can find some sort of circuitous path around the difficulty by coming up with  some sort of defensible exception to my rule.

In this case, however–and probably in most cases–what I’m bumping up against is a reluctance to to apply a strict standard I demand for some issues to those issues that are close to my heart…and income. That is, I tend to give a pass if the object being regulated lives in my own back yard. And that’s the case with alcohol.

That said, in the heat of argument, what would you rather have sitting between the two combatants? A bottle of Buckie or a .44 Magnum?

4 Responses

  1. Whit Stevens - October 2, 2006

    I respect your intellectual honesty Mr. Wark. Self-awareness and honesty are wonderful traits.

  2. Fredric Koeppel - October 5, 2006

    I always thought that the slogan “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” was bogus. Guns are DESIGNED to do harm; that’s their intent. Guns are, frankly, inherently dangerous. When a person picks up a gun and shoots another person, he isn’t misusing the gun; he’s using it for the purpose for which it was made. Wine and other alcoholic beverages, on the other hand, are made for pleasure, for social intercourse, for enjoying with meals. People who become drunk and become dangerous to themselves and others HAVE misused such beverages. The prevention here is education, family background and up-bringing, a sense of responsibility. “Buckie” is probably pretty reprehensible, the misbegotten child of marketing, demographics and plentiful booze, but lots of products in the vast fields of popular consumerism could be faulted on the same basis.

  3. Erin - October 17, 2006

    Having lived in Scotland for a year recently working towards a forensic science degree in Glasgow, I can very firmly attest to the ubiquity of the Buckfast bottle, often broken or covered in the sticky, syrupy residue of its liquid innards. The stuff is quite disgusting, but dirt cheap. Our professors used to use it in all examples involving alcohol, bar fight scenarios and even molotov cocktails.
    The Scottish Minister has a point in that it seems to be associated with a lot of sketchiness, though I think that banning it is a little extreme, it’s more of a cultural reference point and an intriguingly socio-economically linked Scottish beverage.
    Want to ban something? Ban Irn-Bru. *shudder*

  4. Sherry M. - November 23, 2006

    Well lets look at this from a different angel, I being both a bartender and a gun owner. I would wager that far more people are killed by drunk drivers than being shot by a hand gun.. All facetiousness aside a inanimate object cannot be evil but it may be used as such, this goes for every thing. In short you cannot legislate morality.

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