Tuesday, February 3, 2009

One Step Forward, At Least Three Back

I couldn’t believe what I read in the paper this morning. The Utah Legislature is contemplating electronic scanning of licenses to verify age for consumption of alcohol.
.
On its face this doesn’t sound that bad. It could make evaluating an ID for authenticity a thing of the past.
.
Despite my first impression that “wow, Big Brother will have all our names, addresses and how often we imbibe”, I reasoned in my own head that our esteemed leaders will be sensible about it, and it will cut down on underage drinking in clubs.
.
The next few sentences washed away any illusion that the Utah Legislature was thinking with anything but their seats. They want to employ this method of checking ID in restaurants as well, and they want to store the information so that, in the words of the article, “law enforcement could access [it] for accident investigations or in the event of a traffic stop” or “if the restaurant patron left the restaurant and went to a bar, the bartender could know the customer may have already been drinking and might need to be watched more closely”. You’re kidding, right?
.
Do you get that same creepy feeling that there was a camera in that public restroom? Hasn’t the Utah Legislature heard that the days of unbridled trampling of the US Constitution are over?
.
We have come so far. Gone are the days that we have to sign in, fill out our order and hand it to the clerk at the liquor store. Gone are the days when we have to bring our own wine to a restaurant or pay large annual fees to join a club to drink.
.
Do we really want to become known as the state that scans your grandmother’s ID if she orders a drink with a meal in case she busts out and drives to the nearest bar for a few more? Do we really want the financial burden of the constitutional challenge to every DUI arrest that the accused was profiled from their drinking habits? Haven’t we suffered enough in the recent past over the “Zion Curtain” sneeze guard child protector shield in restaurants aimed at preventing young impressionable eyes from seeing the bad man (or woman) mix the bad drink?
.
After the Olympics, or maybe because of them, the spotlight that appeared trained on the absurdity of our liquor laws was dimming. There was even the excitement that the talk of doing away with the private club requirements might take away some more of the ridicule.
.
It appears we are back on the same track. We appear headed back into the glare of the spotlight of national ridicule at light speed. This won’t just affect our pride, it will most likely result in loss of revenue because those on the outside won’t want to deal with our “peculiar” habits.
.
I wonder if this is what the Legislature talked about with representatives of the Mormon Church in their yearly “we’re not trying to influence anyone” meeting?
.
-Pedro

1 comment:

Max said...

It's a good thing I read the whole post, because at first I disagreed with you, Pedro. Having worked at Chevron, where I'm sure that I sold alcohol to underaged customers, unwillingly, because sometimes it's hard to tell a real ID from a fake one. But as soon as I read that they were going to track people's drinking, I got scared. Serious Big Brother crap there.
Without a database, as a simple check of the authenticity of the ID, I think it's a good idea. I'd like to be able to go *beep* and know if this person really was old enough. Just like with my Library card, I don't mind them knowing who I am and where there book is going. But to keep track, and flag, what I'm either drinking or reading, well, that does seem a little unconstitutional. Oh, wait. Our legislature has on many occasions proved that constitutionality is a minor issue that they are willing to overlook, and spend our scarce tax dollars on.
I am glad I read your whole post, it showed the added little twist that made a measure I used to support unpallatable.