Along with about ten other FTH supporters, I watched from the gallery as the House debated The Gourmet Beer Bill yesterday. It was a wild ride.
Some thanks are due to some well-informed Representatives who spoke on our behalf. Of course the first was our sponsor, Thomas Jackson. Also in that list are Mac Gipson, Ken Guin, Johnny Mack Morrow, Oliver Robinson, Patricia Todd, and Demetrius Newton. They presented clear, factual reasoning for why HB196 is good for Alabama and poses no risk to teens or anyone else.
Not surprisingly, two men made infamous on the internet last year in this YouTube video, Richard Laird and DuWayne Bridges, once again stood up to preach against our bill. Rather than relying on facts or logic, these men simply argued that alcohol is bad, and so we need a Nanny State where the government protects us from ourselves by preventing us from being able to choose what to eat or drink. Thankfully, their arguments fell flat this year and HB196 passed the House of Representatives.
Once again, I have reason to complain about the media coverage. The subject of my ire this time is AP writer Bob Johnson, who published a very biased article on yesterday’s FTH success. The print version is even worse, featuring a subtitle of “Foes fear teens will have easier access to get high” and highlighting a bogus argument from opponent Richard Laird in a larger font than the rest of the story.
Since when is it acceptable to call the act of drinking alcohol “getting high”? That phrase is universally associated with smoking marijuana, an illegal substance, and it’s obvious that Johnson’s use was intended to lend a negative connotation to our efforts. He then proceeds to quote many of the spurious arguments made against us without mentioning any of the facts that refute those arguments. It’s fine to point out that the neo-Prohibitionists claim teens’ will find a way to get the higher alcohol beer. But mention of that argument ought to be balanced by a mention that 47 other states already have these beers for sale, and rates of underage drinking are no higher in those 47 other states. It would also be helpful to mention that if teens want to sneak alcohol from their parents’ fridge or liquor cabinet, there’s already plenty of legal alcohol sold in Alabama, much of it with significantly higher alcohol contents than the beers we want to see enter this state. If teens want to drink, they can do it right now and the addition of new kinds of beer isn’t going to change any of that.
I just wish people would get informed and not publish grossly biased articles that heavily favor our opponents while ignoring the facts. Is that so much to ask?
As an aside, those who listened to the debate online yesterday should note that Free The Hops was not started by young Germans who came to Alabama to work at the Mercedes plant. Out of 800+ paid members, I only personally know one German in the group (who is a great guy, by the way). The vast majority of our members are native born American citizens, many of them native Alabamians, and we’re not solely interested in imported beers. Most of us prefer American-brewed craft beers, like Double IPAs and Barleywines from world class breweries such as Dogfish Head in Delaware and Oskar Blues in Colorado. By the way, the founder and brewmaster of Oskar Blues, Dale Katechis, is an Alabama native and he can’t wait to bring his many hand crafted ales into his home state. They are all over 6% ABV.