Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fahrenheit 55

I'm a strong advocate for freedom of choice, and for personal responsibility.

If you don't like this blog, you just don't read it. If you don't like a television program, you just don't watch it. If you don't like Harry Potter, you don't read the books. And if you don't like alcohol, you just don't drink it.

Simple, isn't it?

You don't go on a moral crusade to ban blogs, TV shows or books. You don't try to put TV producers and J.K. Rowling out of business. You just live and let live, letting people who disagree with you go on with their lives, doing what they want.

Unless you think you've got God on your side.

Alabama preacher Eddie Gooch is sure God is on his side, so he and his United Methodist Church congregation have been campaigning to have the sale of alcohol banned in his town. Voters in Athens, Alabama, a town of 22,000 at the crossroads of Interstate 65 and U.S. Highway 72, 25 miles west of Huntsville, are deciding today whether to return their town to the days of Prohibition, AP reports.

Gooch isn't worried about the town losing businesses or tax revenues if alcohol sales are banned. Normal economic growth and God will make up any difference if residents dump the bottle, he said.

"We believe that God will honor and bless our city," Gooch said.

"If it can be voted out anywhere, it will be here because so many Christians are against it," said Teresa Thomas, who works in a Christian book store.

Wonder how she'd feel if books were banned. Where would she work then?

UPDATE, Wed. August 15:
The people of Athens, Alabama, overwhelming told Rev. Gooch they are keeping their hooch!

By a margin of 67.9 to 32.1 percent, the measure to return to Prohibition was rejected.

And... in the southern Alabama town of Thomasville, 57% of the voters voted to go "wet," making Thomasville the 17th city in Alabama to allow alcohol sales within a county that is otherwise dry.


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  1. W.S.

    For once I must disagree with you. *Gasp!*

    People have the freedom of choosing. If a majority of the people in the town want to live in a dry city, so be it. They are all entitled to one vote. We have the freedom of association. Playing your logic: if you don't want to live in a dry town, move out! The preacher has the right to campaign for what be believes is right just as much as a pro-alcohol person does, just as long as they don't force others to do so.

    Relating this to masonry: The regular lodges vs. Prince Hall Lodges. Any man of any race can join either a Prince Hall or Regular lodge. A white man can join a PH lodge and vice versa. The reason you don't see this happening very often is becuase people choose to associate with the people they can relate to.

    Freedom is a beautiful thing isn't it?


  2. Well What can I say about this ?

    Any kind of addiction is not good, no matter if tobacco, alcohool, drugs, cafeine.... Turning tv on every day we notice comercials about alcohool and tobacco invading our homes. The point is: only people under the influence of so called ilegal drugs are able to kill, murder, drive like a maniacs... etc ? I don't think so.
    I believe peope have the freedom of choosing. Even when they don't want to choose anything.

  3. "Wonder how she'd feel if books were banned. Where would she work then?"

    Oh, but I'm sure they would only ban the bad books.

  4. This is the first time you've disagreed with me? Gasp! I haven't been doing my job very well!

    I can see your point, about elections being the "will of the people" and all, but I think this goes beyond that concept.

    The larger picture is that alcoholic spirits are a legal product, available for consumption by anyone of legal age. True, alcohol, like tobacco, is subject to many rules, taxes, etc., that most consumables aren't, but to ban them outright is, in my opinion, just wrong.

    Your freedom to choose is about choosing lifestyle options for yourself and perhaps your family; it isn't the job of, or the right of, intolerant born-again know-it-alls to impose their will or morality on their neighbors.

    In your Masonic example, you are incorrect, sir, at least in Georgia and other southern states. A black man has less chance of being accepted in a regular white lodge in Georgia than I do of jumping over the moon on a pogo stick.

    — W.S.

  5. Know what, WS? I support this action. Seriously, if a bunch of people in a small community want to get together and ban alcohol, and if the overwhelming majority of people agree to it, then that's great. I think that people should be allowed to live the way that they want. Ban cell phones and topless bars and Gap clothing, while you're at it.

    But please keep the ban in your own community for yourself, and don't suggest that I and the people living in the community on the other side of the state should also be banned from alcohol and overpriced t-shirts.

  6. Whoops - hit "Publish" instead of "Preview".

    It's worth noting that across the US, many communities take the form of "Homeowner Associations," houses that are situated in commonly owned areas, much like condominiums. Some HOAs have rules that go beyond the local government laws because that's how the original owners have set them up. There are sometimes lawsuits when new residents run afoul of the rules, and are forced to, say, remove tree houses or oversized playscapes, to cease smoking outdoors, or to cohabit with unmarried partners. The suits often come out in favor of the HOA when the judge explains that they knew the rules when they moved in.

    The situation, IMO, would be quite different if it were a couple of town council members who wanted to push an alcohol ban because of their own religious convictions. But if most of the residents of a small town feel more comfortable as a "dry" town, I'm fine with their decision - as I said, as long as they don't force people in the next town to follow suit.

  7. Bro. Tom,

    In the case of homeowners' associations, new residents would be aware of the rules, etc., before they moved into the neighborhood.

    What is happening in Athens, Alabama, is a taking away of rights already granted. The town, only four years ago, legalized the sale of alcohol.

    Business owners and government agencies relying on tax dollars generated from alcohol sales have a legitimate, vested interest in the continuation of these businesses. Their business models are based on the expected continuation of the status quo.

    The anti-alcohol crowd doesn't want to ban alcohol because of its health risks, or they'd also be clamoring to outlaw KFC and McDonald's franchises, Coca-Cola, cigarettes and driving over 15 miles per hour. They simply want to deny all citizens a right based on their skewed religiously-inspired morality.

    — W.S.

  8. Ah, let me add one more thing. I thought that we were talking about a "small" community. The AP story - which I should have read first - says Athens is 22,000 people. That's probably well past the point where a simple majority vote would be ethical; even 7/8 of the population in favor means that almost 3,000 people would be deprived of an existing right. That's way too many people who should "have to move" or possibly lose jobs. Existing restaurants will lose business, and he city will lose a large chunk of taxes.

    Interestingly, though, Athens was a dry town until a few years ago! The story made it seem like it was not a simple, cut'n'dried issue.

    So, in a way I'm going to disagree with myself. If the 231 people in Hooterville all agree that Jeb's General Store has to stop selling beer, that's one thing. Athens is another issue - 22,000 people is not a "community," it's a small city.

  9. Bro. Tom sees the light!

    The Burning Taper article mentioned the population of 22,000, too. Read... more... slowly.... :)

    Just curious: At what number of people would you change your mind? Not 231, obviously, but what about 500? 1,000? 5,000?

    I would say, it doesn't matter if it's 3 or 300,000. "Democracy" doesn't always work, especially when it's doing something negative — denying liberty, instead of promoting it.

    Democracy is, as Bro. Ben Franklin pointed out, two wolves and a lamb deciding what's for dinner.

    — W.S.

  10. Those are called by-laws. You find that in your lodges that is specific to that lodge only. For example, one lodge I attend dosen't allow shorts while the other one does. Does this mean one is wrong? No, not really. It just simply means that the majority of members of that particular lodge perfers and agreed for things to be done that way. I feel this is the same way that Athens are handling things.

    I also believe that there is such things as right and wrong. Do I believe that drinking alcohol is good? no. Will I force that belief on someone else? no. If they want to drink, they have free agency to do so. BUT if the majority of the people of that city don't want people drinking around them, they hold a vote and they win, then they have the right to not allow alcohol in their city.

    Like smoking, you can do it, its legal, I don't care if you do it. But please don't do it around me, I don't get a filter on my side of the cancer sticks.

    About the PH and Regular lodges, I'm in the south too. Texas, yee'haw. Anyways, you can join either, but like I said, you usually go with people who you associate with. If a man of good character petitioned our lodge, sure we will accept them, it doesn't matter what race they are. Heck! I'm not even Caucasian! After all, isn't it the internal, and not the external?


  11. Ephraim: I admit this is a ludicrous example, but if a city voted to REQUIRE all residents to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol, would you do it?

    I've never been to Texas, other than airport layovers, so I can't speak about the racial dynamics there. I would assume with the large population of Hispanics, people are more accepting of each other.

    So I'll rephrase my statement about "regular" Masons in the south not accepting blacks into their lodges, and say that in north Georgia (other than perhaps Atlanta), a black man has little chance of being accepted into a regular Masonic lodge. Hell, during my raising I was told point-blank that I couldn't even hold Masonic conversations with legitimate Prince Hall Masons, they being officially considered "clandestine."

    Depending on how dark YOUR skin is, you might not even be allowed to visit, even upon examination and with a dues card from a recognized Grand Lodge in your pocket.

    — W.S.

  12. Looks like the drunk Shriners will have to move and ride those go carts in another town. And Tommy will either have to move or be on the show on A&E...INTERVENTION. LOL. You need the number Tommy? Oh wait you can rid in your black heli. with a half gone bottle of Jack.

  13. The whole world has gone mad.
    If it is legal then who has the right to stop you from doing what you want.

    All you God fearing and religious nuts better get a grip.
    You don't have some great power just because you love Jesus or who ever you choose to worship.
    we are all EQUAL.
    Get over yourselves!

  14. It's amazing to me that this subject is even a topic of conversation.

    In my state, more than half the counties are "dry" (all sales and distribution of alcoholic beverages are prohibited), and although my own county is "wet," my town has a city ordinance prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages in my particular neighborhood.

    All Masons in my Grand Jurisdiction are strictly prohibited from engaging in the sale or distribution of alcoholic beverages, which are defined as "beverages containing more than 3.2% alcohol." Those who are found to be in violation of that policy, are routinely charged with un-Masonic conduct and expelled from the fraternity, and alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited at ALL Masonic functions, whether on lodge property or not.

    About four years ago, the entire elected slate of officers at a blue lodge here was removed from office by the Grand Lodge, and charged with un-Masonic conduct for allegedly drinking 3.2% alcoholic beer at a city festival. Despite the fact that the beverages they consumed were admittedly not "alcoholic beverages," as defined by the Grand Lodge of our state, the Grand Lodge Trial Committee declared the brothers guilty anyway, and sentenced them to "definite suspension" for 10 years.

    It's obviously an outrage, but as long as the news about such events can be kept relatively quiet, no one will ever have to answer for it, and the wrongs will continue to accumulate as long as the institution survives.

  15. So if I understand correctly, If I own a store that sells alchohol I could not be a Mason in your state?

  16. masonry=footloose L.O.L. how true that is.

  17. Maybe if the Shriners have enough pull there the city will be wet forever.

  18. Bro. Tom sees the light!

    It burns, it burns...

    The Burning Taper article mentioned the population of 22,000, too. Read... more... slowly.... :)

    That's been happening to me a lot lately. Started around the time I finally got glasses.

    Just curious: At what number of people would you change your mind? Not 231, obviously, but what about 500? 1,000? 5,000?

    I was afraid that you'd ask that, because I don't have an answer. Ethically, I'm trying to balance the concept of freedom with the pragmatics of running a village /town /city.

    I would say, it doesn't matter if it's 3 or 300,000. "Democracy" doesn't always work, especially when it's doing something negative — denying liberty, instead of promoting it.

    I - sort of - agree with you. But I also believe that people have the right to get together, to associate and create societies of their own choosing.

    A town is a legal entity, but the laws in the town are created by the people. In small towns, more people get a voice. In larger towns & cities, most people aren't even aware of the laws or even of their representatives.

    If everybody in your town *except you* decided that the best thing would be to ban alcohol, would it be fair to you? Well, *you* would probably say not.

    But flip that around - at one time, Athens was a dry town. Obviously neither 100% nor even 90% of the people voted to allow liquor in. Was this fair to the teetotums?

  19. democracy = mob rule
    mob sometimes can be misled by religious leaders

  20. democracy = lynch mob
    Good thing our founding fathers did not believe in that type of religion, or we never have been free.
    meeting in taverns to plan the revolution

  21. John 2:6-10 (King James Version)
    "6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
    7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
    8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.
    9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
    10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now."

    So I guess next time Jesus drops in on a wedding party in Athens, Alabama, the Rev. Gooch will call the police and have him arrested.

    That is, if he won't by chance read his bible once again in the meantime and stumble across 1 Corinthians 7,7:
    "For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that."

    Bro:. Ludwig

  22. Someone writes:

    << So if I understand correctly, If I own a store that sells alcohol I could not be a Mason in your state? >>

    That's exactly right.

    Even if you just work at a store that sells alcoholic beverages, or if you drive a beer truck, or own a vineyard, etc., you can't join a "regular" lodge here, and if you become involved in the sale or distribution of alcoholic beverages after you're already a Mason here, the Grand Lodge will kick you out. Requesting a "dimit" won't save you either, because "dimitted" Masons are still required to follow all Masonic rules and codes, or face trial for un-Masonic conduct just as if they were active members. The same goes for Masons who are suspended for non-payment of dues, etc.

    Now, to make it even more interesting, let's say you're a member of a Masonic lodge in Chicago, and you happen to own a liquor store there. You and your wife decide to retire here, but you maintain ownership of the liquor store to provide income in your retirement. If the Grand Lodge here finds out, they'll inform you of their prohibition against being involved in the sale or distribution of alcoholic beverages, and give you a very brief window of opportunity to divest your interests.

    If you choose not to do that, the Grand Lodge will then charge you with un-Masonic conduct, and appoint a Grand Lodge "Trial Committee" to try you. Even if you've never set foot in a lodge here, and have no intention of ever affiliating with one, they'll l remind you that in your Master's "obligation," you agreed to "conform to and abide by the constitution, bylaws, and edicts of the Grand Lodge within whose jurisdiction you may be," and they'll declare you "expelled." Your own Grand Lodge will then be required to enforce that expulsion in order to maintain recognition among all "regular" grand lodges, as defined by the "Council of Grand Masters of North America."

    Yep, those are the rules. Not many Masons are aware of them when they swear to "conform" to them, but that's how it works.

  23. This just in:

    The people of Athens, Alabama, overwhelming told Rev. Gooch they are keeping their hooch!

    By a margin of 67.9 to 32.1 percent, the measure to return to Prohibition was rejected.

    And... in the southern Alabama town of Thomasville, 57% of the voters voted to go "wet," making Thomasville the 17th city in Alabama to allow alcohol sales within a county that is otherwise dry.

    — W.S.

  24. Yeah now the need to legalize hookers and the Shriners will be set for life. Bunch of low life drunks.

  25. "True, alcohol, like tobacco, is subject to many rules, taxes, etc., that most consumables aren't, but to ban them outright is, in my opinion, just wrong."
    Does that include other substances deemed recreational? Curious???

    Our forefathers came here out of exclusion from there homes to start communities of Preference- right? We wanted to do what we wanted and not be banned from it. So- here's the question and I hope I'm not too late.

    Can you vote on an issue that excludes wants and desires of others? Such as Alcohol, tobacco, FIREARMS, or etc.

    Can you exclude a want from some one and is it right to expectthem to go some where else? I believe so but than again I'm right. Ha, just a joke.

    Love my Brothers
    Love my Lodge

  26. Political cartoonist Peter Bagge offers up an interesting take on this via exploring the 5th amendment rights to bear arms.

    The Right to Own a Bazooka

  27. Just so we're all on the same page, the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, reads as follows:

    << A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. >>

    The first part of that sentence is an "argument" for the second part, which is the proclamation: "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." That's a clear, unambiguous statement, with no "wiggle room." It doesn't say: "The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed, except for various types of people, and various types of arms."

    The "argument" for the amendment was clearly stated in its first section, which says: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State..." The United States House of Representatives, as well as the United States Senate, therein acknowledged that, in their considered opinion, a well regulated militia IS necessary to the security of freedom.

    Unfortunately, that issue was "tested" and adversely decided in the US Civil War, during which more Americans died than in ALL other wars and conflicts combined.

    Today, government proponents and imperialists use "political correctness" to insist that the primary motivation for the war was the moral issue of slavery, but that was really only a minor factor at the time. To be honest, the majority of American society in the mid 1800s, both Union and Confederate, didn't care enough about slavery (or slaves themselves) to give the subject much consideration.

    The people of the South who owned and operated large farms (plantations), realized better than anyone that slavery would soon be rendered obsolete by machinery like the cotton gin, the grain drill, the tractor, etc. An analogous situation exists with Greek and Roman ships, which were powered by slaves rowing oars. Even though slavery in those cultures was never abolished, the advent of sailing ships rendered slave-powered vessels obsolete. It simply wasn't economical to manage and maintain workforces of slave power, when much smaller numbers of skilled sailors could sail enormous ships all the way around the world, by harnessing the free power of the wind.

    The primary divisive issue at the time of the US Civil War, was actually states' rights. The Confederate States knew that they'd joined the Union of their own free will and accord, and they believed they had a right to withdraw from it in the same manner. At that time, however, the southern states produced the majority of the US domestic product, and the rest of the states simply couldn't afford to let them go.

    Prior to the US Civil War, every state in the Union had always maintained "a well regulated Militia," as the Second Amendment declares to be "necessary." That meant that each state effectively had its own "army," and when the southern states voted to withdraw from the Union, they had significant military power to uphold that decision.

    Since the northern states couldn't afford to lose the income from the South, their leaders chose to plunge them into armed conflict, thereby pitting millions of Americans against each other in a bitter fight to the death. It didn't have to be that way, but the northern politicians of the day were willing to sacrifice hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) of lives, in order to maintain the prestige and political power of their positions.

    Let there be no mistake: Southerner's never attempted to "overthrow" the United States government, or any other government. They merely sought to maintain the freedom to choose their own destiny, rather than allowing themselves to be subjugated under imperial rule as their forefathers has been under the British, but when they lost their own fight for freedom, the United States was forever changed.

    The Confederate States were defeated largely due to the unscrupulous and despicable tactics of the Union, who introduced the concept of "total war" by deliberately targeting the southern civilian population. While the smaller Confederate military inflicted more casualties on the Union military by a ratio of more than 2 to 1, it's estimated that the Union military inflicted more casualties on Confederate civilians by a ratio of more than 20 to 1.

    In short, Confederate soldiers were more than twice as effective at defeating their Union counterparts, but the Union military brutally concentrated much more of its effort on the civilian population. This was the first time in history that any war had ever been conducted in such a manner, and its terrible success set a precedent for all subsequent wars of domination, including the American Indian Wars that soon followed, the British Boer Wars, and even World Wars I and II, when both Axis and Allied forces targeted civilians.

    Before the Second Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, the leading "Federalists" of the day argued that it was unnecessary. For example, James Madison (who later became President of the United States) wrote:

    << Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. >>

    Similarly, fellow Federalist Noah Webster ironically wrote in an argument against the Second Amendment:

    << Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. >>

    When the Confederate States so nearly won their freedom from the Union, the Union leaders who prevailed realized that in order to secure the perpetuation of their power, they could never afford to take such chances again. Therefore, they set about dispensing with many of the rights originally afforded to American citizens, especially those covered by the Second Amendment.

    For more than half a century after the Second Amendment was ratified, it was enforced EXACTLY as written, and the citizens of the United States were free to keep and bear the same type of arms used by their national military. That remained unchanged until AFTER the US Civil War, when the government began to systematically disarm the civilian population through legislation.

    Today, there isn't any realistic possibility that American civilians could resist our military, which is commanded by leaders the majority of Americans didn't elect. We've effectively allowed the freedoms secured by the blood and determination of our founding fathers, to be stripped away one stitch at a time, and we've returned to a situation very similar to that which existed under British colonial rule. In those days, there was little that common citizens could do to control their government, and today, we've come to accept that same situation again.

    As a particular case in point, we accept "taxation without representation," when we allow citizens to be stripped of their voting rights, yet demand that those citizens continue paying taxes for the remainder of their lives. Similarly, we allow people who are exempt from taxes, to impose taxes on those who actually have to pay them. An example of that can be seen in the way people who own no real estate or other property, are allowed to impose all sorts of property taxes on people who do.

    Why should people immune to a tax, have power to impose such taxes on people who have to pay under penalty of law? If that's a legitimate way of raising revenue, why don't the citizens of the US vote to impose huge taxes on all politicians, and on all funds and lands owned by politicians and/or their families and businesses?

    Truth be told, no one knows what the world would be like today if the Confederate States had prevailed. It might be worse, but there's at least an equal chance that it might be better.

    The Union restricted rights that the Confederacy had sought to preserve, and history might have revealed that the remainder of the original States would have eventually joined the Confederacy, thereby preserving the Union not by military brutality, but by popular accord under a truly democratic government. Of course, that isn't the way it turned out, but it's interesting to realize that it could have been.


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