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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Proposed alchol restrictions overbearing

By Aaron Zundel

It’s legislative season here in Utah, and that means it’s time for our honorable lawmakers to waste time and tax dollars on any number of ridiculous issues that will inevitably get in the way of making progress on any real problems.

This week’s ridiculous issue: Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, has proposed to ban the display of alcohol in Utah restaurants.

If Waddoups gets his way, the new law would require any alcohol-serving Utah restaurant to mix or pour drinks out of view of customers, such as behind a barrier or in a back room. The reason behind the clandestine proposal, Waddoups said, is to protect minors from exposure to the evils of alcohol.

“(Minors) are enticed by the glamour of it in some instances,” Waddoups recently told KSL. “They’re enticed by it because it’s made to look like a fun, exciting, stimulating product…we’re trying to protect children who don’t have the capability of making a wise decision.”

Oh, are we now?

First off, though my personal experience with the stuff is somewhat limited, I have it on very good authority that alcohol can, in fact, be a “fun, exciting, stimulating product.” I can only assume that if it weren’t, the latest numbers from the United States Department of Agriculture wouldn’t report that 2003 U.S. retail sales of alcoholic beverages totaled more than $115 billion. By villainizing alcohol, or pretending that it’s something it’s not, Waddoups does a disservice by presenting himself as someone who is as unperceptive as he is narrow-minded.

Additionally, despite any beliefs or misguided legislative attempts by Waddoups to the contrary, minors are exposed to decidedly more alcoholic “glamour” in the music, movies and television they experience than they ever could in a glancing observation of a whisky-pouring sin swindler at Applebee’s.

Perception issues aside, the real issue with Waddoups’ new proposal is that he’s not really trying to “protect children who don’t have the capability of making a wise decision.” In reality, he’s trying to protect people from making decisions that he doesn’t agree with. By attempting to push public consumption of alcohol further into the back room of vice and “unwise decisions,” he’s legislating his own special brand of cock-eyed morality that tries to discourage the consumption of alcohol more than the view of it. This is a particularly pernicious, subtle type of morally superior reasoning that rears its head in Utah’s legislative chambers every year8212;though usually from Sen. Chris Buttars’ direction.

Ultimately it’s up to parents, not Waddoups, to decide what children should and should not be exposed to. No amount of legislation could ever override the influence a parent has on a child, either in favor of the consumption of alcohol or against it.

In order to become a more hospitable state for outside business and tourism, Utah needs to start retooling its alienating and confusing liquor laws, not adding to them. Rethinking liquor laws would be in everyone’s best interest, even the religious majority, as it would help continue to legitimize Utah at the national level and move us away from our cultish, rural reputation. A family man who grew up in the small farming town of Arco, Idaho, Waddoups is no doubt an upright citizen and a man of morals. However, it’s clear that his legislative ideas, at least in this instance, are out of touch.

[email protected]

Aaron Zundel

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