Hang on to your six-packs; Seth Harp is at it again.
The state senator from near Columbus has filed a bill to allow sales of package alcohol on Sunday.
Harp's bill has more of a shot of passing this year because of the state's economic downturn. Like a proposed tobacco tax increase, lawmakers are using a financial angle to boost otherwise difficult bills.
I'm of two minds on this proposal, which would allow local communities the option of approving Sunday package sales.
The first issue I have is that I hate to see the current economic climate used as a tool for manipulating legislation. Ideas should be defended on their merits regardless of such external factors.
By the same token, I dislike the fact that the bill's biggest obstacle is the personal opposition of Gov. Sonny Perdue, a teetotaller.
Whether you view it as a moral issue or not is beside the point. It's bad government for an elected official to dictate public policy based on his personal preferences. I'm not a big soccer fan, for example, but I certainly wouldn't oppose building a soccer field just because I don't care for the sport.
Elected officials should peel off the it's-good-for-the-economy convenience on one side, and the no-alcohol-at-all bias on the other, and simply consider whether the state should allow package sale of alcohol on Sunday.
What they would see is that it makes no sense for the state to allow on-premises consumption of alcohol seven days a week, but to prohibit purchases of alcohol for off-premises consumption on just one of those days.
Despite our society's view that purely religious codes have no place in law - the same sort of thing we fought against with the Taliban in Afghanistan - opposition to Sunday sales is based almost entirely on religious reasons.
To those with this viewpoint, here is a challenge: If you oppose Sunday sales of alcohol for religious reasons, to avoid any taint of hypocrisy you must not patronize any business that already sells alcohol on a Sunday.
That means you cannot go to Applebee's or Fatz Cafe or Monterrey, and on and on, ever - and especially not after church this Sunday.
Sure, you might not be drinking, but you are spending your money with a business that actively promotes it. You are putting your money where your mouth isn't, and that is hypocritical.
Opponents of Sunday sales also say, "It's OK six days a week. What's the harm in leaving one day alone?" A better question: What's the point?
If any product is legal even one day a week, it should be legal every day. From a strictly legal viewpoint, allowing the sale of alcohol every day except one is as irrational as prohibiting the sale of fence posts on Tuesdays.
And for those who worry about drunken driving, how can anyone oppose the sale of alcohol for use at home, but condone sales for those who must consume it somewhere else before going home?
That's what the current law does: It allows you to drink a beer at Pizza Joint on Sunday, but it won't let you buy a six-pack at Kroger and take it home to drink. Does that make any sense?
Not to me.
War in Israel
Though most of the attention this week is on the inauguration, many eyes are on the Mideast.
The Augusta Jewish Community Center, in Evans, is seeking donations on behalf of the Jewish Federation of North America to help provide care for Israeli children and families in the war zone.
You can call the AJCC for details at (706) 228-3636.
Also, Larry Waxman, of Martinez, is volunteering in Israel. He'll be spending three weeks on a military base, and says he'll send us updates.
While I doubt the current military action now in a shaky truce will lead to any long-term peaceful solution, I'm on Israel's side.
If you lob rockets at my house for months on end, as the Iranian-proxy Hamas terrorists did, spare us the sob story if I finally get fed up and shoot back.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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