The Simple Rhetoric of Wine Country Nimbys
How do you know when its safe to ignore a critic? When they demonstrate a willingness to engage in simple, meaningless rhetoric, rather than in delivering their opinions with words that mean something.
This tendency to ignore the meaning of words and even make them up with no care for what they mean is on display in among the current batch of Nimby Wine Industry Critics who whine about under organizations titled, “Napa Vision 2050”, “Soda Canyon Road” and others.
Take for example a letter recently published in the Napa Register by Patricia Damery, a supporter of the Nimby movement called “Napa Vision 2050”:
“Amazingly, large event centers have even been finessed to be described as an “accessory use” of agriculture, effectively commercializing our “protected” agricultural lands!”
It’s this term “event center” that I’m thinking about. NimbyMaster Damery uses it likely because she’s heard other critics of the wine industry use it and it sounds to her like it might mean wineries don’t make wine, they just invite tourists for events. And, that sounds bad to her. That sounds to her like it might make others feel bad about the Napa wine industry.
Yet in reality, Damery’s and others’ use of the term “event center” to describe wineries are really just a perfect signal to everyone else to ignore this person and their opinions since they are grounded in no matters of fact or reflection but merely offered in order to try to poke the industry.
When you hear wineries referred to a mere “event centers” you can rest assured that the people using this term understand very little about Napa Valley, its ecology, its environment, its politics, its economy and certainly very, very little about the wineries they are attempting to demean.
What’s interesting about the use of the term “event center” to describe a winery in Napa is that it is believed by those who use it that its continued use will make the point that wineries aren’t in the proper business of making wine, but rather are simple tourist traps. This, they believe, will turn the residents of Napa County against the wine industry.
But it won’t. Those who live in the County and actually take care to understand how the wine industry and the Napa economy functions rather than simply blathering on in community forms, aren’t tricked by this very simplistic rhetorical device.
But as I said earlier, there is a benefit to this term being used: it helps us identify the idiots in the crowd that alert us to their inconsequential place in the debate.