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Letter To The Editor

City Fears Bars That Sell Beer

Dear Editor,

            The reason behind the new beer ordinance is not to raise revenue for the city (they’ve cut that part), nor to prohibit single-can sales (ditto), nor to require beer served only with food (ditto), nor to regulate restrooms (“grandfathered in,” so we’re told). I suspect the real reason is that the city administration is afraid of bars that serve beer.

            Noah “Soggy” Sweat delivered a speech to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1952 stating his view of whiskey. “If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge [ etc. etc.] then certainly I am against it. But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, [etc. etc.] then certainly I am for it.  This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.”

            Now, substitute “bars” for “whiskey.”  When you say “bar,” some people picture a den of iniquity, a place of drunkenness, a breeding ground for violence. But other folks hear the word “bar” and see companionship, a place to solve the problems of the world with friends and co-workers over a couple of cold ones, and where people meet to chat, flirt, and share stories. A community gathering place.

            If we enforce existing laws (not the beer ordinance) regulating the kind of behavior nobody wants—laws about driving under the influence, public drunkenness, alcohol sales to minors, noise, signage, excess occupancy—we won’t have problems. And we won’t be forcing investors to look elsewhere, as we are now. Limit the Water Valley beer ordinance to the necessaries: careful licensure of beer sellers, reasonable distances from churches and schools, and sensible hours of operation. Get that done, and then let’s move on to fix the bigger issues that face this city.

Best regards,

Cliff Lawson

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