Friday, October 24, 2014

LA Times on Arkansas's booze ballot measure

Posted By on Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 12:34 PM

The Los Angeles Times has a story today about Arkansas's upcoming vote on allowing alcohol sales in all counties.

The article highlights the pragmatic alliance between county-line liquor stores and anti-alcohol churches in opposing the amendment, which Max has written about at length. Best quote is from a preacher who calls alcohol "a very tricky substance."

It also includes Harrison mayor Jeff Crockett, who says the number of DUIs has steeply declined in his town since Boone County turned wet in 2010. "I know for a fact fewer people are driving 30 miles for beer and popping a top on the way back," the mayor is quoted as saying. 

Then, of course, there's the requisite overstated color about rural Arkansas:

In some ways, the Arkansas ballot is a referendum on urban versus rural life.

Wet cities like Little Rock and Fayetteville are home to two-thirds of the state's 3 million people. Most of the rest live in dry counties or so-called moist areas where alcohol is sold only in private clubs.

An editorial in the Log Cabin Democrat newspaper claimed a statewide vote meant having "those people" in the state's big cities decide an issue best left to locals: "This is about the ability for the villagers to have a say about the village in which they live."

Arkansas, ranked in a recent Gallup poll as the nation's eighth-most religious state, is a socially conservative sprawl of winding rivers and pious small towns where moral and political arguments are traditionally played out on church signboards and in the letters-to-the-editor sections of folksy weekly newspapers.

As if fast-growing Conway, home to two major colleges and tech companies including Acxiom and Hewlett-Packard, a city shaped by decades of white flight from Little Rock, exemplifies the voice of "rural life" in Arkansas. The old "those people in the big cities" refrain is more often than not an affectation adopted by editorial voices a little too enamored with a pretended countrified authenticity. Real America, you know.

I grew up in rural Arkansas — Franklin County, which is wet — and I can tell you it's awash in beer and liquor. Yes, churches and religion dominate social life in small towns, but even those aren't monolithic; there are plenty of rural Arkansas Baptists who buy plenty of 30 packs in their free time. The LA Times, as per usual for a national news outlet writing about the state, is happy to paint with a broad brush.

I'd go on, but I just realized all I'm doing is complaining about "those people" in big cities like LA.

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