Whose Side Are You On? 

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I just heard news that the Utah Legislature is looking into a bill that will “encourage people to eat food if they are going to be drinking alcohol.” Translation: “We’re going to force you to eat.”

This is coming right on the heels of legislation attempting to ban hookahs from bars and other establishments. This snatches away the main product of profitability from the Huka Lounge, not to mention forcing it to change its name to “lounge.”

Now, I love Mormons. I have nothing against them; in fact, I usually find myself jumping to their defense more often than not when they are being bashed unfairly. I’m also a registered Republican. However, I’m starting to more and more diverge from what they represent (not toward the Democrats, mind you; think Libertarian). And it’s silly things like this that make Mormons hard to defend, as far as the religion goes, and it pushes me farther from the Republican Party.

Ironically, Republicans are often accused of being too “pro-business.” If that’s the case, why is the Republican-led Legislature trying so hard to put bars out of business? You often hear Republicans talk about not wanting a “nanny state.” Now, they’re forcing us to eat our vegetables.

And the key word here is “force.” I wish the Legislature would at least be honest enough to call it what it is. Don’t insult us by using the word “encourage” to disguise the true nature of the bill.

You need to understand that every new law by the conservatives aimed at behavior is a restriction on someone’s personal freedom; every new law the liberals create to level the playing field for whatever “marginalized” group they’re currently advocating only ends up leveling the players themselves. And regardless of how benign a law seems, it’s put into place by people who have a monopoly on the use of force (military and police). Every new law has a physical threat attached to it, whether you like it or not.

Don’t believe me? Try lighting up a cigarette at a bar. When the cops show up, don’t put it out.

Having the majority of lawmakers belonging to a particular faith that condemns the use of alcohol controlling the sale of liquor while distributing liquor licenses with the frequency of Halley’s Comet makes about as much sense as having eunuchs running the Blue Boutique. It’s not just bad business; it’s anti-business.

So, to the Grand Ol’ Party in this state: Get back to basics. You know—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If my pursuit of happiness involves a shot of tequila on an empty stomach while a hookah tube dangles from the side of my mouth, then it’s my bloody right. Unless what you consider to be “pro-business” means making sure your entire Elders Quorum is signed up for Amway, then you need be for all businesses, regardless of whether you agree with the product or service.

In the battle for the pre-existence, Satan got cast out because he wanted to force people to live the “right” way. I ask the Utah Legislature: Just whose side are you on?

Marc Hanson
Salt Lake City

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