In past two weeks, being close to many of the principals who helped put on the Helper Art Festival, I have seen their struggles, not only with applying for a beer license at the state level to sell the golden brew at the festival, but also the lengths in which they had to go to adhere to the law once they had the license.
The festival had a central spot where they sold beer; the old Standardville gazebo. To buy a beer one had to show an ID, regardless of whether they were 21 and looked 15 or 70 and looked 97. Then the person who examined the ID had to put a wrist band on the purchaser who was given the beer and was told to sit in a roped off area of the park known as the "beer garden."
Once in the beer garden, you had to finish your beer before you could leave it's confines. If you wanted to walk around the festival, you had to do so wearing the wristband, because if you took the paper braclet off, came back and wanted another, you would have to go through the ID and banding process all over again. And each day of the festival the bands were a different color, so they couldn't be used from one day to another.
All this for a few ounces of 3.2 percent beer. Do the people in the legislature who want these regulations on the books know how stupid this makes them look, even to someone who doesn't drink alcohol?
Well, as far as I am concerned what is good for the goose is good for the teetotalers as well. To me the whole process is not only stupid, but also discriminatory. First I must prove how old I am (when it is obvious I will never look under 21 again) then I am labeled with a tag that says "Look this guy drinks beer" and then I must sit in a little area with all the "other beer drinkers" so we don't pollute the crowd.
All this regulation for the festival and I could have walked down the block to the convenience store, bought a bottle of beer from their cooler without having a tag put on me.
Of course the official reason the state powers that be give for not allowing me to drink beer dispensed at a function like the art festival in my own time and in my own way is that it is a harmful substance that needs to be controlled. It can also be addictive. I understand that. But let's face it. The real reason they don't want me to drink has nothing to do with my well being. It has to do with what they consider right and wrong.
In laws of physics, there is a principal that roughly says for every action there is an equal reaction. I know that isn't exactly right, but it's close enough for those of us who barely passed physics and of course, have lost numerous brain cells to beer over the years.
So if they can pass legislation controlling my morals then I should equally have the chance to legislate theirs. Recently I went on a low fat diet (although I fell off the wagon a bit during the art festival) to control a cholesterol problem. I have also been on an exercise program since the first part of June. In addition I cut out as much caffeine from my diet as possible and quit drinking soda pop. Within a month after starting this program, I realized I had never felt better in my life. It's been a revelation to me, in fact almost a vision for the way I think everyone else should eat as well. Now I know the real truth of drinking skim milk, eating lots of vegetables and fruit and staying away from all those things that my doctor says will kill me. With this new found knowledge I've decided to take up the call of stifling others from pursuing their love of saturated fat. And I am going to start with an all time favorite of mine that I had to cut out of my diet: ice cream.
With my new found vision I realize that it is actually a sin against a persons body to eat such a food. But since we can't realistically address the morals of the issue and be on an equal footing with beer the way the state of Utah sees it, then we must work on the basis of ice cream as a health issue.
We know that ice cream is bad for you. It has large amounts of saturated fats, it is full of all kinds of artificial flavors and processed sugar. It is also addictive. I grew up on a dairy farm, and almost daily I ate ice cream from the time I was a kid until I was an adult. It got to the point where I couldn't go to bed at night without a big hot fudge sundae sitting in my stomach. I never had that much trouble avoiding drinking beer daily. A six pack sometimes sits in my fridge for months before it is gone. It's obvious to me that the evils of ice cream are much greater.
So I am going to propose a law that will keep children from becoming addicted by this evil substance, and will, in the long run benefit adults health as well. I propose, first of all that no one under 18 can purchase ice cream. Obviously it takes a lot of maturity to control the urge not to eat it, and children are receptive to that sugary and creamy taste.
Next the law will ban any advertising of ice cream that caters to children. No more happy looking cows on packages. Those ads certainly aren't realistic anyway. First of all cows seldom look happy, so it is deceptive advertising. And besides they don't eat the stuff themselves. People may think bovines are dumb but note that cows are vegetarians.
Next we need to take ice cream out of grocery stores and build a system of special state stores to sell it. There we can charge three times as much for it as they do anywhere else in the nation and we can also control what types of ice cream people can buy within the state. In the interests of health, we will make sure the only legal ice cream will be of the low fat variety, none of that good creamy stuff. More natural flavors will be favored, like strawberry and peach. Things like Raccoon Chocolate Nut and Gooey Garbled Almond will not be allowed in Utah.
There will also be a regulation about bringing any ice cream into the state from Wyoming or Nevada. The penalties will be stiff. You either need to learn to like what is sold here or move somewhere else.
Of course we will also have to regulate the sale of ice cream by the cone. Any outlet that may want to do that will have to obtain a special license from the state to do so, and will have to follow strict policies on dispensing the creamy substance. Licenses will not be issued to businesses that are located within 500 feet of a school, church or cholesterol testing center. And it will be illegal to walk down the street eating an ice cream cone or downing a shake. Sales by the cone could only be consumed inside the establishment where it was purchased.
As for special events, operators will need to follow rules to the letter. Those working behind the ice cream cartons at weddings, festivals and parties will have to have special training. But we'll make it easy on them. Only one person in the kitchen will have to have the certification, as long as he or she is present when the bowls of ice cream are passed out. Incidentally, those serving ice cream could not consume it within a half an hour before or after serving it.
And of course, we will need a new bureaucracy to administer these laws, set up the stores and handle the merchandise. We can call it the Utah State Ice Cream Control Commission (USIC), and it will have a seven member board that runs it. While it will not be a written regulation, we will be sure that six of the seven members are either lactose intolerant or are practicing vegetarians. The single other member can be a person who eats ice cream, but she or he should be very conservative about it.
It would also be a boon for the state. Utah is one of the top consumers of ice cream in the nation, and with the state earned profits, the money could be used to give Leavitt a great going away party when he heads to Washington D.C. or to give even bigger bonuses to those state employees who have done extra special things like fax a letter for a busy coworker or for organizing the department's Christmas party.
If we could pass this type of a law, I and many other beer drinkers would feel a lot better about how they handle beer sales in this state. It would make the playing field level too, because even though a lot of beer drinkers eat ice cream, almost all of those that think our liquor laws in the present form are a good idea, eat a lot more. They would finally know what it is like to have something they enjoy turned into an action that not only labels them in a discriminatory way, but also takes money out of their pockets to pay for an inferior product in an attempt to keep you from enjoying yourself.
And if I can get that law through the state legislature, next I might go after those Friday night prime rib specials or the all you can eat dessert bar at your favorite buffet.
After all, I just want everyone to be like me.