Let’s grant therae are always exceptions to any rule, which may be about all the Rome Alcohol Control Commission has left to worry about regarding a pending request to further loosen restrictions and allow what’s commonplace in much of the world — serving complimentary alcoholic beverages routinely at special functions, allowing bring-your-own in settings such as art studios, providing stocked mini-bars in hotels and similar.
At the same time, and along much the same lines in what used to be a “dry” state in a “dry” section of the country, the state unbeknownst to most citizens just loosened the cork a little bit more. As of July 1, with General Assembly/governor blessing, liquor tastings are allowed at Georgia’s rather few distilleries for promotional/tourism purposes. There’s a limit of half an ounce per person per day … a quantity unlikely to cause problems even if it involved “white lightning” except morally in the eyes of some.
Moreover, as though to confirm alcohol is gaining market acceptance for reasons of taste instead of “getting loaded,” the state also now will let brew pubs double their allowed annual output to 10,000 barrels from the previous 5,000.
IN ROME the problem in need of overcoming is that any business seeking to allow “serving” of even free or bring-your-own alcoholic refreshments needs to get city approval … and a license. Those run $1,530 for beer/wine and $5,360 for cocktails and similar. That’s pretty hefty for an art studio that wants to let its painting class students sip wine while daubing paint.
The art-studio owner asked for a lower rate. In reality, there should be none … zero … for something like this if no fee/price is involved as it is simply a reflection of the dominant cultural and social norms. It’s called hospitality. What does one think goes on in a convention “hospitality suite”?
That doesn’t mean such an approach is without risk, but adults would recognize them and not, like one commissioner, apparently be worried about undercutting revenues and “competing” with licensed pouring establishments.
After all, in the past it has not been unknown for the same body to grant special one-day event exemptions for major civic fund-raising events … or a big reception to woo and try to win some new enterprise by showing off how freely the liquor flows as part of the local lifestyle. It’s difficult to bite one’s tongue, or not feel the need for a stiff shot, when encountering such two-faced hypocrisy in the Land of Make-Believe.
NOR IS ANOTHER commissioner quite correct in seeming to like the idea as “thinking outside the box.” Only if one lives in a box called Rome or refuses to accept the fading influence of a particular church-driven attitude that once called the shots (non-alcoholic, of course) for everybody in this state and region whether agreeing with the viewpoints or not.
That’s fading fast, as witness that almost every community given the right to vote on Sunday package sales by the legislature did so with speed … and glee at being free at last, free at last from “blue laws.”
There are, indeed, many aspects to such supposed further “loosening” but mostly they involve the usual suspects. It is doubtful anyone is going to get “smashed” in a painting class but even a little bit too much brings risks on the drive home. Responsible adults, which most Georgians have been showing themselves to be in this regard, would allow for that with “designated drivers.” For the business/location holding such an event, or making room mini-bars available, there is probably a potential liability problem and the need to adjust insurance accordingly.
And, certainly, there is a public-safety interest for the city to know where/when such an event is being held if involving a certain number of participants. Our officers do really like to know where the “hunting” will be good, as many residents have learned in the past.
IT IS ONLY in looking at the past that this, and some other trends, can be considered to be moving at avalanche speed in Georgia. That’s because in yesteryears some can remember all movement was downright glacial. Those “youngsters” born only 50 years or so ago consider it to be the tall tales of fossils to describe not only alcohol crackdowns of the long-ago but even, in many communities, that dancing, the sales of decks of cards and playing pool were also something the devil invented after he got through building the first still.
The Alcohol Control Commission does need not to so much “loosen” regulations but rather get with the flow of what the majority of its citizens want as an option. Nobody is forced to imbibe or buy after all (that’s health insurance). The world as much of the South knew it is changing, whether one sees that as for good or ill.
Both Georgia at the state level, and Rome for a longer period and providing clear evidence of having matured sooner than many others, are steadily joining the modern mainstream.
The evidence of doing otherwise is rather obvious, or should be for Romans in particular. At one time the anti-alcohol church viewpoint, heavily Southern Baptist, won elections and thus made the laws. When the Sunday sales ban came up for challenge — the crown jewel of that way of thinking — there was almost no organized church opposition.
Instead, in a state over which this opinion once held near-total sway, the hill holding Shorter University has become something of an isolated fortress that allows only lips that have never touched liquor in public sight, not even in a painting or cooking class much less a bar, to teach there.
There’s probably a lesson in that for the Alcohol Control Commission. Private-sector policies are one thing, like the national fast-food chain with the never-on-Sunday work attitude. Public policies applying to everybody are quite another.
THIS BODY, necessarily cautious because of its responsibility and having to tiptoe carefully through what’s left of yesteryear’s religious minefield, really should not need to have somebody paint them a picture of what the real world is like and how it has already changed.
If offering somebody a free alcoholic drink to help with socialization and conversation is going to require a city license, there sure are a lot of backyard barbecues that have been breaking the law.