Main menu:


Subscribe by email:

Delivered by FeedBurner



Site search

Question 1: “Will Someone Please Think of the Children?”

I was in a liqour store buying beer, and as I was waiting for my credit card to go through, I read the note taped to the cash register.


I immediately thought of Helen Lovejoy on the Simpson’s. She’s the reverend’s wife, and it’s her role to beg the town to consider the welfare of children. It doesn’t matter if the issue is gambling, potholes, or zombies, she’s there to plaintively wail “Will somone please think of the children!” The running gag is that the issue she’s wailing about really has nothing to do with children – she’s just using a fictional threat to win the debate.

The poster I saw was demanding “no” votes on Question 1, on whether to permit wine sales in grocery stores. The poster went on to claim that every convenience store, many drug stores, and many gasoline stores would start selling wine if Question 1 passes. This wine would be available on every street corner and be “easily accessible” to teenagers. Helen Lovejoy would be pround of this poster.

When you read the Yes on 1 and No on 1 websites, you can see which side is making arguments and which side is fear-mongering. The Yes site promiently posts the text of the initiative and explains how it will work. The No site posts inferred statistics (“190 deaths per year”) and says that under the law, Arlington will have 13 new wine licenses. Can you name 13 locations in Arlington that “must carry fresh or processed meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs, fresh fruit and produce, baked goods and baking ingredients, canned goods and dessert items”? Of course you can’t – the 13 license claim is another attempt to spread fear, unknown, and doubt without regard to the facts.

I argued half-heartedly with the guy behind the counter. I asked him if he really believed any of the stuff on the sheet. He defended it for a bit, then said “We have to post that stuff. If grocery stores start selling wine, we’ll lose the business.” I’m not sure his boss wanted him to say this, but the real issue was finally on the table.

When you read the text of the law you understand that there won’t be alcohol on every corner and there won’t be wine at gas stations, convenience stores, and drug stores. This isn’t a fight about child safety. It’s a fight about whether or not the current liquor stores can retain control of the wine sales revenue stream. Ironically, it’s a posting on the “no” site that highlights this best: “The independent package store owners will be hurt by this proposed law, and many will be put out of business. Such a cost is not worth the 50 cents per $10 bottle of wine.”

I will be voting “yes” on Question 1 in November. I think the children of Massachusetts will be just fine, and that wine will be cheaper.

UPDATE: The Patriot Ledger has a great right-hand sidebar showing donors for and against Question 1. Who would have thought that package stores love children so much?


Pingback from Dan Dunn’s Podium » Dan’s Voting Guide
Time: November 6, 2006, 8:49 pm

[…] Vote YES on 1 […]