You Can’t Drink Just One!

A coworker of mine mentioned that when he was at the gas station earlier this morning he was in line behind a woman, who by all appearances was probably a prostitute, trying to purchase a can of one of those new-fangled alcoholic energy drinks. He said she was denied on the basis of a new law that disallows the sale of single-serving alcoholic beverages before noon. I immediately expressed my immense disapproval of such legislation.

“Yet another example of how society deftly screws the poor,” I snarled.

“How do you figure?” asked my coworker.

“Well, let’s see, the law basically says that if you don’t have enough money to purchase more than a single can, you aren’t allowed to buy it at all. It’s discrimination based on income.”

“I think you’re extrapolating a tad there. The law isn’t necessarily based on income, but rather a desire to keep drunken transients to a minimum. Besides, how can you say that making it harder for them to acquire their poison a bad thing? It could be argued that the law is designed to help them.”

“That isn’t why the law was passed and we both know it,” I rebutted. “Withholding a can of beer isn’t going to cure a raging alcoholic, especially one who has no home. It’s not as if that woman you saw this morning walked out of the store thinking, Gee, now I see the light. I’m never drinking again! Time to start filling out employment applications and finally making something of myself! The fact is that law was created so that ‘regular’ people wouldn’t have to look at others less fortunate than themselves doing whatever they can to get by for one more lousy day.”

The debate continued for a few more minutes. He’d contend that because the people affected were alcoholics, a law prohibiting them from buying booze was justified, brushing away my counter-argument that what he described was merely one faction imposing its system of ethics upon another, less powerful faction.

Eventually, we pretty much just had to agree to disagree.

Anyway, I’d love to know what my politically inclined readers* think:

Is prohibiting the sale of booze to people who can only afford a single can discrimination or justified therapy?

If you have an opinion, let’s hear it!

*Save for the insufferable, close-minded neo-cons I’ve blocked, of course.

Read and post comments


About kirkstarr

I draw pictures for a living.
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35 Responses to You Can’t Drink Just One!

  1. SweetMisery says:

    No doubt Discrimination. She probably had to walk a long distance to another store who doesn't follow that stupid idea. Hope she made it. fucking stupid laws

  2. Yoj says:

    Hmm… I don't know if they have that law here- but if they did, I'd say it would be to cut back on all the construction workers drinking and driving with their 40 oz of Busch Light.
    Let me ponder on your post some more and I'll have a more in depth response. 🙂

  3. AmyH says:

    I hardly see how the law is going to have an lingering effect on an alcoholic. Alcoholism is a deep-rooted disease that needs a wee bit more attention than that to cure.

  4. Jay says:

    I think prohibition of anything like that on the basis of time or day of the week is ridiculous. What's the point? What does it demonstrate, making it illegal to sell one can of beer to someone, or no beer on Sundays before noon, or on Sundays at all? Or making the liquor stores close at 9pm sharp, but the 7-11s can sell beer and wine all night long? I understand age restrictions, but that arbitrary legislation seems to me to be just a big look-what-we're-doing performance by local elected officials. And dry counties…..well, who are they kidding? I'm sure there's no alcoholics there, no sir.And as far as the situation you described goes…..yes, it makes it more difficult for someone to buy a can of whatever, but it doesn't solve any underlying issues. It just adds another stone for her to carry through life. I'm not condoning her lifestyle, but you don't get to that point by just making a couple of irresponsible choices.

  5. Red Mosquito says:

    I'd say it is discrimination but I can also see it as a way to reduce the possibility of drinking and driving. Buying a single-serving of something makes it easier to consume while driving, and since most single-serving things are sold at gas stations (or met on airplanes), then you might theorize that people who buy these are likely to consume them while driving a vehicle, but that has nothing to do with the law being about noon.
    So really, this law is in place to prevent office workers from buying a single-serving on the way to work and thus screwing off, or being drunk at work. It's got nothing to do with the homeless, but everything to do with the alcoholics, so it's still discrimination.
    They would be better off to just outlaw single-servings at any time.

  6. Kirk says:

    "They would be better off to just outlaw single-servings at any time."OK, but isn't that still discriminating against those who can only afford a single can (i.e. vagrants)? Joe Construction Worker can still get his beer before work or whenever; he just has to buy two. Easy for him since he has a job. Stinky McHomeless, however, just gets screwed.

  7. Red Mosquito says:

    yes, i guess it is still discrimination against anyone who can only afford 1. Poor Stinky, he'll just to have pool his money with some friends and they can all stand around the burn barrel and drink. 😉

  8. lauowolf says:

    Prohibits a single serving sale before noon?I can't even think what they are trying to accomplish, beyond making life randomly harder for populations that are easy to scapegoat.Anyone who's trying to buy a single drink in the morning probably really needs one.If you want to cure their addictions, go ahead and take care of that first.No one is stopping you.But don't just legislate inconvenience and go off thinking you've accomplished anything.(And, hey, I'm hardly a drinker at all myself, and I live two blocks from Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley.Part of my regular gardening activities includes cleaning out the discarded beer & etc. bottles stashed in my bushes by the street people and other passers-by.I suspect those that pass this sort of garbage legislation think they are aiming to please people like me. Missed)

  9. Xeyli says:

    It definitely smells of discrimination.When you think about it, drinking alcohol is a luxury in this world, just as owning the latest and greatest ________. If you don't have the money, you shouldn't be drinking… right?

  10. Crush says:

    I'm not sure its either therapy or discrimination, Kirk. I guess the assumption is that non-single serving alcoholic beverages are not prohibited before noon???
    If that is indeed the case, I would say that the single serving is assumed to be for immediate consumption (otherwise, why purchase just one), whereas a "pack"–whether it be a 6 pack, 4 pack or 12 pack is for future–even the very near future—consumption. I realize that I'm likely giving way too much credit to the lawmakers, but the immediate versus future consumption angle seems to make sense to me. Whether you walked or drove to the package store, consuming an alcoholic beverage immediately after purchase increases the likelihood of public intoxication and/or driving under the influence. That's the only rationale I can come up with…
    We're probably both off base from the actual truth which likely has something to do with the religious beliefs of the lawmakers….just ask anyone in "Baptist County"…

  11. Xeyli says:

    I partly believe that the law is there to increase sales. We ARE a Consumer Nation, after all… so, buying one instead of buying six doesn't make us spend as much.I think Kirk (or someone else) should invent the Specific Time-Release Alcoholic Beverage Opener. It won't open unless it is between specific hours (say, 11am-2am? I LIKE having wine with my meal!).

  12. Kirk says:

    "…drinking alcohol is a luxury in this world, just as owning the latest and greatest ________. If you don't have the money, you shouldn't be drinking… right?"Sure, alcohol is a luxury, but laws shouldn't delineate who can and who can't have said luxuries. That's personal choice. That's freedom.

  13. Miz Blo says:

    Well. Hmm. I don't know I come in contact with the people like that all the time. I work at a c-store. The reason for the "blue law" like you have up there is to make the church people happy. I mean it doesn't look good if Rev So and So is having a drink of the sinfull kind before noon. In Tx our law says that we can sale mon – fri 7am to midnight on sat. to 1am. Sundays are a diffrent story all together we can't start saleing till noon to midnight. Thank the baptist.

  14. Kirk says:

    "…consuming an alcoholic beverage immediately after purchase increases the likelihood of public intoxication and/or driving under the influence. That's the only rationale I can come up with…"It's not a bad rationale, but it loses a considerable amount of cogency when you consider the "before noon" factor. In order to maintain its validity, the law would have to be, as Red Mosquito said, enforced all day long, not just prior to noon. And even then, it's still to the specific disadvantage of a definite demographic, which is discriminatory. "We're probably both off base from the actual truth which likely has
    something to do with the religious beliefs of the lawmakers…"I agree that's probably a big part of it, Crush. Mostly, though, I think it's as lauowolf said: to appease those "upstanding" citizens who can't handle being regularly reminded there are people whose lives are so terrible they drink before noon.

  15. DKN says:

    Eh, this ain't got nuthin' to do with drinking in general, income, alcoholics or drinking and driving. Actually, I think these laws primarily discriminate against non Christians. The no alcohol on Sunday thing comes from the overall consensus of Christians back when they had a much larger influence on society as a whole. If we were predominantly Jewish, it would be Saturday.So for those of us who do not worship at all, we can't buy alcohol before noon on Sunday or on Sunday at all (depending on the state you live in) because apparently we need a reminder to get our asses to Church. That's all it is. The laws can coat themselves as something else if they want…But it's old and ingrained and that's definitely where it comes from.

  16. DKN says:

    BTW – I realize I'm being captain obvious – I just don't think that all of the loop holes poked into these laws change why the laws are in place to begin with.

  17. I-Luv-Eeyore says:

    It is a law designed to inflict someone else's ideals on everyone. This is especially a problem down here in the Bible Belt. Dry counties, no alcohol sold between midnight and 6AM or on Sundays. Why? It flat out does not make sense. If I am planning a party or planning a 'drunk' then I plan around the fact that I know I can't buy it after midnight or on Sunday. It makes the roads that much more hazardous right around midnight on Saturday night…because people that are already drunk and have drank more than anticipated, have to run out to get more before the stores have to quit selling because it's almost Sunday.
    So, why can't I buy a single alcoholic beverage before noon? It is discrimination….because a "decent hardworking <insert religion here> wouldn't be drinking that early in the morning."
    Don't try to shove your beliefs down my throat! The only thing restricting someone from buying a drink at that hour of the morning is going to accomplish is to make them angry.
    ***steps off her soap box and goes back to being totally non-confrontational***

  18. tom says:

    When I was a college Freshman in South Carolina, you could only buy liquor until 7pm, and not at all on Sundays. The liquor stores were actually divided–liquor in one store, beer and wine in the other. If we were going to be drinking liquor–and this happened a few times that year–we had to plan accordingly. There were no beer or wine sales on Sunday, which either A) made us be good little boys and girls who didn't drink and went to church, or B) made us drive 30 miles through the mountains to North Carolina, where you could buy beer after noon? Not only did we drive through the mountains to NC, we drove BACK from NC while drinking beer. If you look closely at it, the law is stupid. "We don't want you to drink, so we'll make it so you can't drink individual cans of beer, because that's bad. You can drink a six-pack or a case of beer–that's fine–but not one can."Makes you wonder if Jesus had to change the water into wine because somebody screwed up and held their wedding on a Sunday.

  19. RedScylla says:

    Besides, if it's intent is to "help alcoholics," why don't we get similar laws to keep people from buying beers by the case. Isn't that equally enabling to alcoholics?

  20. Yoj says:

    If you can't buy one, can you buy two or three at a time? Or does it strictly have to be a sixer or nothing?

  21. Kirk says:

    "If you can't buy one, can you buy two or three at a time? Or does it strictly have to be a sixer or nothing?" J, that's a good question and one that inspired me to find the actual documentation. According to it, this is not a law but a practice they've asked retailers to participate in voluntarily. It reads:"…we are requesting that you voluntarily participate in this program of targeted restrictions. At present, the only restriction that is being requested is:That no single serve alcoholic beverage be sold between 6 AM and noon. Beverages that would be included include all beer, malt, and flavored-malt beverages as well as all fortified wines. Your sales reps can provide you with a list of restricted beverages. Single serve means any single container of any size less than 10 gallons. It would still be fine to sell 6-packs, 12-packs and 18-packs at any time as well as regular, un-fortified wine."The documentation seems to make it clear that this activity is a direct result of complaints about "Chronic Public Intoxicants", so we know now that this isn't about helping anyone but about sticking it to intoxicated vagrants:"We should also note that sometimes these targeted restrictions need to be changed should the CPIs change their behavior. For example, it may be necessary to add six packs of malt or small (187ml) bottles of wine to the list should CPIs change their behavior."Voluntary or not, it's quite obvious that this action unfairly targets poor people.

  22. Bookmole says:

    Discrimination. Against the poor. I mean, what about night-shift workers? I might want to be having a beer cos I just got off shift. But I would buy a 6-pack because it's cheaper per can that way, though with a greater initial outlay.But that's the thing about being poor. You have to buy cheap shoes that wear out, spending as much in 5 years as a richer person, just spending it in dribs and drabs. You have to have a clunker and only put enough petrol (gas) in to get where you are going. You go for job interviews, on the bus, and wait for hours because – hey, you're fucking poor and your time does not count.

  23. Lauri says:

    Good discussions.I tend to think along the lines of DKN. Those kinds of laws "holier than thou" legislation, simply making legislators look good to the "upright" whilst the legislators are buggering their interns on the side. I doubt that anyone really thinks the laws are going to help an alcoholic OR stop drunk driving. It's all "see how good I am"?

  24. KatieKat says:

    Telegraph? Near Berkley? Are you in the D too? Small world….

    OK, this law banning the purchase of a single alcoholic beverage before noon is CLEARLY based on stopping the poor from drinking. What abou the annoying drunken legislaters that buy their booze a case at a time?
    Personally, I am more worried about a person buying a case of beer at 10 in the morning than the poor and transients who want a single can. After all, which do you fear more? The poor prostitute that is self medicating with her single can of beer as she walks the street or the rich assholes who drank a case of beer before jumping in their cars….

  25. lauowolf says:

    Yep, right in the middle of southside.I wouldn't say the occasional guy with a bottle is the worst thing going on.Here or anywhere.Seems as if they manage to pass laws solving non-problems all the time.

  26. I think Jay says it best.It's 'color coded' prohibition (as in homeland security , not race) that solves nothing. You'll just get one homeless guy to buying two beers – one for himself and one for his buddy. If there's an increase in the street fighting amonsgt homeless, we'll know it's because the one guy refused to give over the second can of beer….

  27. The K Spot says:

    Don't you tell me what is good for me! Prohibitions on anything that doesn't directly impact the rights of another is bogus and unamerican. Land of the Free my ass. When did we become Land of the Tell Everyone Else How To Live Their Lives?
    This law doesn't prevent anything. Alcoholics will turn to Scope if necessary.

  28. Jay says:

    At least their burps will smell better.

  29. joey says:

    Seems to have more to do with 'cleaning' the streets than anything else.You see, us crack addicts need a drink to calm us down. That coke crash is a bitch without some sort of downer involved. So, this is definitely discrimination – against crack addicts. They just don't want us running around after we smoked all of our rocks throughout the night.Bastards …

  30. Red Pen says:

    It certainly seems discriminatory, not to mention useless, to me.

  31. I-Luv-Eeyore says:

    Alcoholics will turn to Scope if necessary.
    My ex-drank Listerine. 16 years later and I still can't stomach the smell of original Listerine.

  32. Brown Suga' says:

    It definitely is discrimination against the poor and it doesn't do a damn thing to stop alcoholism either. Therapy? Not by a long shot.

  33. Jenn F. says:

    Oh my. There was talk of similar legislation 'round here, and some places in the area have a "no single cans, period" on beer/sparks/etc. Though you can buy a bottle of wine, if you'd like. Or a six pack/four pack of a canned beverage. So, to rebut your friend: 1) Therapy cannot be mandated by the government. At least not in reality. Anyone who has ever known an addict (I lived with one) knows that addicts need to sort out for themselves when they are ready to move into recovery. Not being able to buy alcohol before noon doesn't make a damn bit of difference. There are always alternatives. 2) Uhm, if this were there to prohibit alcoholics from getting a hold of alcohol, then the law would prohibit selling alcohol to alcoholics or addicts. If someone has been an alcoholic for many years, it will take more than a couple of morning hours to get past the DTs and oops, noon came and she bought her can of Sparks. 3) Alcoholics often have high tolerance for alcohol, and if they've been drinking for a long time, a single can of beer is maintenance for a little while, but not for long. If they were able, they would buy a six pack. Oh, wait, if they had enough money to buy a six pack, they could, because the law doesn't prohibit buying a six pack, or a twelve pack, or a slab of beer before noon, it prohibits the purchase of a single can. What is the difference between the six pack and a single can? Money. If this were about preventing alcoholics from getting alcohol before noon it would ban the sale of alcohol before noon. But since you can buy a six pack, or (one would assume) wine, or a bottle of bourbon, the only people being prohibited from buying alcohol are those who can not afford to purchase greater quantities or more expensive products. The only barrier is an economic one, therefore, the only target of the law is an income target. Mind you, I'm not opposed to there being limited times in which alcohol can be sold (I grew up in New England when the blue laws were still in effect: alcohol wasn't sold before noon or after 2am, and never on Sunday). But if there are going to be laws governing when it is sold, they have to be applicable to everyone, not just people without money. To do that is discriminatory and creepy and opens up the possibility of other kinds of economically discriminatory lawmaking that might eventually engulf your friend.

  34. . . . says:

    Discrimination = this "practice"Justified therapy = putting birth control in the water so one needs to <i>go get the antidote</i> to reproduce.Too liberal? 🙂

  35. Rev Stan says:

    With out my cynical hat on I says it was an good intentioned albeit ill-conceived policy. But I completely agree making it harder for people to buy alcohol is never going to make people clean up and it is discriminatory.I don't know how much and the type of alcohol on sale in US service stations as I've never been to one but how about this for a scenario: You are cooking dinner for friends and need some wine for the sauce/gravy – one of those small third size bottles will do (do you have those?) and the only time you have to purchase it is on your way into the office from the service station. Technically it would be a single serving and so busy, slightly disorganised workers and budding chef's are being discriminated against too ;0)

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