By Scott Tibbs, November 14, 2011
I am a recovering teetotaler. I used to believe the heresy that drinking alcohol is sinful. (Which it isn't. Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine, and the context of John 2:9-10 makes it clear that it was alcoholic wine.) But the Utah Hospitality Association's attack on the First Amendment right to petition government for redress of grievances makes me long for the days of Prohibition for a few fleeting seconds.
At issue is a new nanny-state law passed by the Utah state legislature restricting the practices of the alcohol industry, including banning daily drink specials and limiting the number of liquor licenses not only to population, but to how many police officers are employed by the state. The UHA's objection to the law is perfectly legitimate. I have often railed against the nanny state (see here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here) and this law is just as onerous and unnecessary as the ones before it.
But the UHA's brazen attack on liberty is far worse than any of these nanny state laws. As much as I may disagree with the Mormon cult's position on alcohol, they have the same right to petition government for redress of grievances as the UHA does. That right is protected by the First Amendment and the UHA is acting in an immoral and anti-American manner by attempting to get the courts to censor the Mormons.
In addition to being immoral, the UHA is being politically stupid. People who would come to UHA's defense against the nanny state ninnies will instead oppose the UHA because of their attempt to undermine the rights protected by the Constitution. It is never smart to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by turning allies into enemies.
You cannot defend a liberty you value by killing a liberty you find inconvenient. A government that has the power to eliminate dissent certainly has the power to place even more restrictions on the alcohol industry. The UHA would be smart to back down from this lawsuit and instead advocate that all government be smaller and less powerful.