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Laughing At the ABC Commission?

by tommy kirchhoff

A public hearing was held last week for anyone with an interest in Utah’s alcohol laws. OK, so you didn’t make it. Did you hear about it? Didn’t think so. We heard about it, but not in time to get on the agenda. Something smells like shit here, folks.

The ABC Commission hosted a public hearing at the Nazi-architecture, brick building on 900 West. The heading on the agenda read “UTAH DEPARTMENT OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CONTROL.” (These buttwipes complain that the Department has nothing to do with lawmaking or the Commission, but the word “Department” gets used on everything)

The ABC Commissioners were looking much the way we figured they would look on a Friday morning: Vickie McCall (we like her) was dressed in a vibrant green outfit, looking very bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as if she had just consumed a large, fresh cup of coffee. The other four commissioners, bald, beady-eyed and obese, looked as though the notion of falling asleep might be a forthcoming remedy to the indigestion of eleven chocolate-chocolate donuts washed down with two pints of chocolate whole-milk.

We arrived a couple minutes late, so we missed MADD’s three representative hat trick. We did get to hear Dave Holliday, representative for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). Mr. Holliday was one of the good guys, and very put together; he made it clear that DISCUS has been working in cooperation with MADD for a long time, and that liquor advertising has been restricted from underage markets since the 1930’s. This, we hope, made a mark.

Next to speak was Jerry Fenn, an attorney representing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You can well imagine the stupid, religious-crusade horseshit Fenn was there to expel. Alcohol consumption this; foolish statistic that… His words and his tone were like a triple dose of Valium, and they just wouldn’t end. Fenn droned on as only a hired beta-sub-humanoid can; then, just as we were about to call Dr. Kevorkian, credit card in hand, it ended.

Now, because you missed the meeting, we’ll give it to you straight. Adam Ward, Editor in Chief of the University of Utah’s Daily Utah Chronicle, gave the next address. This was a pivotal presentation, and rightly so considering college students are at the cusp of legal drinking age. Adam was very composed when he rhetorically questioned the laws mandating alcohol censorship in school publications. He told the commission that the University of Utah administration did their own study of readership, and that when the students, faculty and staff were all considered, only 15 percent or less of the Chronicle’s readership are koolaid kids (underage). The fat, beady-eyed male commissioners got their back hair up over this one (eeeooo—gnarly visual, sorry). They grilled Adam with all sorts of questions trying to discredit the study, then said they would need to see a copy of it.

This was the point in the “public hearing” where it became obvious that the commission was not there to rationally listen to citizen rationale. If someone got up to endorse Utah’s 21st century Prohibition in the eyes of God, the commissioners made no comment—but almost nodded as if to bestow powdered sugar blessings on his or her words . If someone got up to question whether these laws are constitutional, economical or even reasonable, the commission was on the defensive as if someone were trying to steal one of the coveted raspberry bismarks (except Vickie McCall, who seemed to listen as a reasonable person).

Dr. George Van Komen of the Alcohol Policy Coalition spoke next. He also took the extreme by citing recent European actions and statistics (as if the drunken continent of Europe is even on the same playing field as teetotaling Utah). Get this, when Van Komen was through spewing all kinds of intangible nonsense, the commission asked the good doctor for his help to enforce more stringent laws. Oh ya, that’s fucking reasonable guys! Why don’t you stick to your Prozac and old-fashioned glazed, and keep your brainwashed little minds out of things like citizens’ life, liberty and pursuit of happiness—even if it means they’re gonna drink.

We have to say that our favorite part of the ABCC’s public hearing was having Melva Sine, President of the Utah Restaurant Association, say, “Let’s work together to find meaningful changes to these liquor laws—instead of having you restricted by a federal court mandate.” Nice work Melva. Way to kick some ass.

NOW! Utah needs you!

The deadline for public comment on the recent changes in Utah’s alcohol advertising laws is OCTOBER 5TH. Please write your thoughts down and send them to

ABCC Secretary
PO Box 30408
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0408.