Adam Carolla has an oft repeated rant about cigarette smokers vs. gun owners. The rant goes like this, cigarette smokers have mostly been accommaditing to regulations and laws against them. Can't smoke on a flight, okay makes sense, I'll just smoke over here. Can't smoke inside, okay, I'll just go out and light up. I can only smoke over there, okay, that's fine. Giant pictures of cancer on my cigarette pack, that's fine. Gun owners, on the other hand, fight tooth and nail over every infringement on rights. Try to ban semiautomatic handguns, f... you we need those. Try to ban armor piercing bullets, f... you, sometimes I need to shoot through a safe. We can argue the merits of these infringements, but I'd much rather be in the boat with the gun owners over the smokers. Mostly, gun owners don't get messed with while smokers are going to have to fight to smoke in their homes or in front of children soon.
This is how I feel about alcohol regulation. We mostly just rolled over when the FDA and politicos went after Four Loko. Four Loko was a boogeyman that was easy to demonize and didn't have a constituency to back it up. Beer drinkers should have been that constituency, but we have too much of that smoker mentality. We think, in the backs of our minds, that somehow drinking a beer is something that needs to be done in secret. It's shameful and anything that makes it even more shameful should be regulated away. So we just turned our backs on Four Loko and beer with caffeine added. Never mind that alcohol and caffeine have been combined since the Irish put a little shot of whiskey in their morning coffee and somehow there's still Irish people around.
The fight against a bill in Wisconsin that would ban craft brewers from self distribution has been a little more hearty. But, in my eyes, it hasn't been a pro beer fight at all, it's been a fight against Scott Walker. Every article I've read has blamed the bill's provision on the Governor. It showed up on Think Progress as if Scott Walker put it in the bill because he was paid off by MillerCoors. Scott Walker was the boogeyman and this stupid bill was a way to hand him a defeat. The fight had very little to do with the merits of giving small craft brewers the ability to self distribute. Nowhere did I find in any article I read how many states actually have existing laws that don't allow self distribution by craft brewers. Kansas has a law like that, I'm sure many other states have laws like that. I'll bet if you looked at a map of the United States with number of breweries listed in each state, those states with the fewest breweries will be the ones with a law that prevents self distribution. But, we don't fight for repeal of those laws. We should. We're always playing defense and never go on offense, We're the Schottenheimer Chiefs with Steve Bono at Quarterback.
We have a government that will trample all over our rights if we let it. We have to let a government stooge touch our nuts to get on an airplane. We can get arrested for filming a policeman during a traffic stop. We can have our homes raided and guns pointed at our heads if someone tells a cop that you sell marijuana. We can get arrested for dancing at the Jefferson Memorial. We can be stopped at random checkpoints to get our papers checked and our property inspected at the whim of government agents. The NSA can listen to your overseas phone calls without a warrant. The FBI can get information on all of your Google searches without a warrant or documentation of an investigation. The President can order the assassination of American citizens with no recourse whatsoever. This is a non-partisan assault on our rights.
What are we doing about it? We're asking the government to ban McDonald's from giving toys to kids with a Happy Meal. We think all of the above is a pretty good idea because we're not the bad guys. But, when it comes to beer, we do think we are the bad guys. Beer with caffeine being banned, sounds reasonable, we'll just drink other beers. Beer with high alcohol content, well, it's a little inconvenient, but we don't need that high alcohol beer. Need a license to buy alcohol, seems reasonable, we'll just run right over to the ATF to get one, hope I take a good picture. Government run liquor stores, well we don't want people profiting from selling alcohol.
There are people out there trying to make a case for taking away our rights to drink whatever beer we want. We've just accepted the many hurdles the regulatory state has thrown up between a guy who wants to make beer and sell it to you. We should be fighting to reduce those hurdles rather than fighting even more hurdles. We should be playing offense not defense. We should be the NRA not the smokers. We should be Peyton Manning not Steve Bono.
We lost a brewery in the past week because of a stupid FDA restriction, we can lose a lot more if we're not careful.