Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Sonny Perdue, the Georgia governor who thinks holding prayer rallies is a rational public policy response to a water shortage, has an op-ed in a Georgia newspaper where he offers a transparently illogical argument in favor of a ban on alcohol sales on Sunday. His argument below the fold:

Above all else, I think it is the responsibility of the governor and the General Assembly to reject a piece of legislation that hurts more people than it helps. Allowing the sale of alcohol in grocery stores as well as liquor stores on Sundays will do far more harm than good. In fact, other than those who profit from those sales, it will not help anyone.

In the 1990s, the citizens of New Mexico debated the issue of Sunday alcohol sales. On July 1, 1995, most counties in New Mexico began allowing the sale of alcohol on Sundays. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded a study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, to uncover the legislation’s long-term effects using data from the first five years that alcohol sales on Sunday were allowed. The study found that legalizing Sunday packaged alcohol sales “exacts a significant price that is paid by crash victims and their loved ones, health care providers, insurers, law enforcement and the judicial systems.”

Okay, so what does this have to do with Sunday alcohol sales? This argument applies just as well in defending a ban on alcohol sales on Friday. Or Tuesday. In fact, it’s really an argument against allowing alcohol to be sold on any day, isn’t it? Oh wait, we’ve tried that before and it was a miserable failure.

The Republican principle of individual freedom is just as important to me as it is to my colleagues in the legislature, but so is the principle of protecting innocent Georgians. If you have ever comforted the parents or grandparents of a young person lost in a DUI crash, then you know that the cost of this proposal is too great and the damage it stands to inflict is too heavy a burden for innocent families to bear.

But why isn’t the same thing true of those killed by drunk drivers on Wednesday or Thursday? Is it easier to comfort parents and grandparents in mid-week for some reason? If you really believed that avoiding such results is more important than individual freedom, you would be pushing for the return of prohibition. But you don’t. Because you don’t really believe this argument. Because the real argument you want to make and can’t is that Sunday is your special holy day and therefore no one else should be allowed to buy alcohol on the day you’re worshiping.