As a democratic society that values civil liberties and the free expression of ideas, an inherent trust is granted to citizens to make the right decisions for themselves; so long as those decisions comply with recognized societal laws. Within the context of everyday justice, citizens who are not not lawyers are entrusted to make ultimate factual determinations as to guilt or innocence within courts of law as jurors every day.
In recent days a predictable tizzy of outrage mixed with consternation has ensued among all of the typical cast of characters aligned to diminish the civil liberties of those Americans who enjoy the responsible public consumption of alcohol.
Fueled by the recent media articles reporting on Taco Bell’s potential roll out of franchise options that include the purchase of alcohol, such individuals and/or organizations are now clamoring to find new avenues with which restrict the cause of public consumption of alcohol in all of its forms.
When those with a moral self interest seek to curb the ability of adult Americans to enjoy alcohol responsibly, their targets become more than merely adult beverages. Rather, such efforts are in reality an attack on the right of all responsible Americans to be entrusted to live freely and without restriction in compliance with the use of goods or services deemed legal.
A White Castle hamburger establishment in Lafayette, Indiana previously garnered an uptick in media attention when its proprietor chose to allow for consumers of the Lafayette restaurant to be able to purchase alcohol during designated hours and under prescribed conditions.
Not unlike the recent reporting on the Taco Bell experiment regulating the steps the franchise has taken to ensure that carry out alcohol sales will be prohibited, such business leaders mindful of a potential legal and public policy backlash have taken great care to deal with the issue of alcohol sales with public safety in mind.
The beauty of American capitalism is that inherent safeguards for the well being of the general public must always be put in place in accord with responsible business practice. Those businesses that play little mind to the role they may play in contributing to harm posed to the general public will not be in business for long.
The profit motive of a business must therefore always be mindful of public opinion and potential legal liability for any policy practice undertaken. If the majority of people with a given community object to the serving of alcohol within a fast food restaurant, sound business logic will dictate that a sufficient profit motive is not existent to justify increased insurance liability expenditures nor the outcry of protest targeting the practices of a given business establishment.
However, if in fact a business determination has been made that a profit can be generated through the sale of a legal product catering to customer demand within a community, public opinion will speak as to the efficacy of a given good or service offered for sale. Should the overwhelming consumer demand for a lawful product justify increased liability costs, such businesses should have every right to do so unfettered with the disparaging objections of those individuals who usually reside elsewhere.
The US Supreme Court has recognized that legal outcomes on different societal issues can be based upon community opinion. One of the most widespread examples of this concept of community customs dictating legal culpability is in how community standards define, “obscenity.”
This definition is legally significant to businesses offering sexually related merchandise for sale. Without fully understanding the public moral standards of a community being considered for such a business, such a proprietor will always be at financial risk for later selling merchandise that a local jury may potentially consider obscene.
In so ruling a de facto “chilling effect,” has been instituted toward business seeking to set up shop in selling what may or may not ultimately be considered obscene if later subjected to civil lawsuit. No wonder that businesses seeking to distribute products that may potentially prove to offend the sensibilities of a given community choose not to invest within such geographic areas.
My own belief is that organizations mobilized to eliminate the legal public consumption of alcohol seek to draw parallels to above referenced efforts by drumming up community hysteria against any new form of alcohol distribution. However, unlike clear regional opposition to moral issues such as what is obscene, the inconvenient truth for those against public alcohol consumption is that a majority of Americans do not believe that adults are incapable of consuming alcohol in a responsible fashion.
Anti alcohol advocates should not patronize the public with the notion that adult Americans are simply incapable of responsibly consuming alcohol because it is served at a fast food restaurant, or choose to suggest that business leaders are simply incapable of responsibly regulating alcohol distribution.
Let us all allow for the fact that many intelligent Americans choose to be morally offended at the notion that a select minority of Americans continue to champion causes that seek to diminish freedoms that other adult Americans enjoy.
Credibility toward swaying public opinion can only come with a recognition that responsible alcohol consumption by adults whether at a fast food restaurant or any location is not to be feared, but acknowledged as another example of the proper exercise of civil liberties within our country.
The safeguarding of public alcohol policy and distribution is no different than the vocal passion many Americans have in regard to gun laws and crime prevention, or present liberalization of drug laws. As such let us all recognize that all citizens of good will may have reasoned opinions that differ from the moral standards of other equally well intentioned Americans.
The preservation of civil liberties for all Americans on select legal issues must continue for the next generation of Americans. Though the misuse of firearms or alcohol carries the risk of harm if not regulated properly, we as Americans have not stood for the proposition that the risk of danger of a legal activity justifies its elimination.
When we as Americans fight to protect the ability to enjoy legal conduct with which we may personally disagree, we empower our citizens to intelligently balance the cause of public safety without diminishing essential civil liberties for all Americans.