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Gilbert Arizona Declares Family & Beer Incompatible

Thanks to Rob Fullmer (a.k.a. olllllo) at Beer PHXation for letting me know about this weirdness. Arizona recently relaxed its 2005 law regarding the sampling of beer, wine and spirits in grocery stores. But one town mayor, John Lewis of Gilbert, Arizona, isn’t happy that someone might be able to have an ounce or two of alcohol, especially if he happens to be in the vicinity of that tasting with his children.

According to the Arizona Republic, he thinks having his kids see people even sipping alcohol will have untold consequences and will undo his careful parenting to, presumably, keep his children from ever seeing demon alcohol anywhere throughout their lives. Here’s how the Gilbert mayor put it:

Lewis recently called on local grocers to “withstand the temptation” to offer free taste-testing of beer, wine and spirits at their stores. He said his family frequently shopped at Sam’s Club, for example, and he would not want his children to be in an atmosphere where alcohol could be sipped.

“For the image and preservation of what has been building Gilbert as a family-centered community, I hope we would not approve the sampling privileges in a family environment,” Lewis said.

I love Fullmer’s response in Beer PHXation:

Apparently Lewis, a grown man, finds the task of teaching his children about the responsible and legal enjoyment of alcohol (or the abstention of it for that matter) in the mere presence of adults tasting 1 or 2 ounces — while still maintaining a code of conduct suitable for the likes of a Sam’s Club — capable of erasing years worth of parental upbringing.

Having a family environment and an educational and informative environment for alcohol use are not mutually exclusive, in fact, the family environment IS the proper environment.

Precisely. What exactly is the problem with seeing adults having a simple taste of alcohol in a responsible, legal environment? This is the sort of modeling behavior we should want our kids to see. Lewis is so far off the deep end that he’s not just upset that his kids might actually see people drinking, he’s even bothered by “an atmosphere where alcohol could be sipped.” [my emphasis.] That means just the thought of there being a place where alcohol “could be sipped,” that there’s a possibility it might happen, is enough to worry him. That he could walk past even an empty roped off area, children in tow, is just too much for him to bear.

Not to get too personal, but according to his bio, he’s been married for 29 years, has 8 kids and 4 grandchildren. The likelihood that he even has impressionable little kids to actually walk through the grocery store with seems somewhat unlikely. So what he’s doing is just political grandstanding.

But his suggestion that somehow sampling alcohol is incompatible with family I find most offensive. I have a family. Countless brewers and beer lovers have families and see no contradiction with the two. That’s because there is no contradiction. Adults can enjoy a drink responsibly without damaging their family. People have being doing so for time immemorial. Why is is that some people believe that there is only one way to parent … their way?

When the bill passed the state legislature, only one representative voted against it, republican Andy Biggs, whose district includes — you guessed it — Gilbert. For him, it was all about the doughnuts, to wit:

“I go in with my kids to go get doughnuts at the Safeway,” Biggs said. “It’s one thing to walk through the liquor department to go to the bakery, but it’s something else when you’ve got people there serving alcoholic beverages.”

Seriously, it’s about his freedom to buy doughnuts without seeing alcohol? What exactly is wrong with these people? Why is it “something else,” whatever that even means, if there is beer sampling? I feel confident he could take another route to reach the bakery. But failing that, if it’s such a big deal couldn’t he just buy his doughnuts somewhere else? Nothing against Safeway, but they’re not exactly the gold standard for pastry.

It just feels like, based on their nonsensical comments, that this is personal for both politicians. And they’re using their positions to force their own issues with alcohol on the rest of the people they represent, in a way that feels out of touch with the average person’s opinion. Obviously, it’s hard to know how any community feels about so complex an issue as alcohol, but I feel confident in saying that a majority of people there do at least drink it.

The original impetus for the bill was to give local alcohol manufacturers a chance to compete locally by allowing Arizona beer and wines to be sampled. As you might expect, Todd Bostock, president of the Arizona Wine Growers Association, believes that “most families wouldn’t be offended by in-store sampling because they already consume alcohol at the dinner table in front of their children. The more kids are exposed to responsible drinking, it won’t be a foreign thing to them,” Bostock said. “It’s not taboo.”

It certainly shouldn’t be, and based on the 54-1 vote it would appear most people agree.

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