You’ll need a scorecard to keep track of what’s happening in the Great Booze Debate shadowing our upcoming international drinking event, the 2002 Winter Games. Some people worry Utah’s arcane liquor laws will continue to make us the butt of jokes—only now on a worldwide basis. Others, however, believe we must set an example and stand by our belief that drinking is bad, bad, bad and evil.
b Round One went to Mitt Romney, Salt Lake City’s Olympic guru, who said he would ban 3.2 percent beer from the plaza where gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded. Romney said the fact that he is Mormon and that the medals plaza is owned by the LDS church played no part in his decision. He just didn’t want to give young people the idea that drinking beer could win medals in the Olympics—or something like that.
b Round Two went to Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson. He witnessed so many people drinking beer and having a great time at the Summer Olympics in Australia that he proclaimed beer should flow freely in the City of Salt in 2002. The mayor says he wants to be a good host by allowing people who normally like to drink to get tanked if they so desire.
b Round Three went to Mormon church leaders who released a statement last week indicating that booze, wine and even 3.2 beer are the root of plenty of evil. The world will see how best to live if Utahns show a good example by teetotaling while international guests look on with awe.
b Round Four might have gone to Rocky, but it’s hard to tell. In a front-page story in the LDS church-owned Deseret News, the mayor was quoted as saying he’d like to see wine sold in grocery stores rather than in state liquor stores. He also said he likes to have a glass of wine with dinner. Some sources found the statement odd, however, because the mayor rarely eats dinner, choosing instead to work.
b Round Five may have been a draw. Bantam weights Mitt and Rocky compromised on so-called “beer gardens” that would be set up to keep beer drinkers corralled in enclosures so children wouldn’t have to watch them swill pints, belch and laugh wildly. The makeshift detaining locations would be labeled “beer gardens” and have large signs with blow-up photos of blond-braided German women in peasant attire showing cleavage to make the corrals appear inviting.
b Round Six, however, clearly went to a Salt Lake Tribune editorial, labeling the beer gardens as what they are—a real terrible thing to do to visitors who just want a beer. In a rare instance of clarity, Tribune editorial writers noted that beer drinkers from around the world shouldn’t be made to feel like second-class citizens while visiting Utah.
We’ll drink to that.