Authoritarianism and the Case Against Shipping Alcohol
(And some thoughts on representing advertising as genuine editorial)
Serving a drunk person in a bar or retail establishment is illegal almost everywhere. Serving a drunk person in their own home is illegal nowhere. I want my readers to keep this in mind as I move forward with this brief commentary.
Recently, The Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America (WSWA) paid the trade magazine Beverage Dynamics to publish a story entitled, “Illegal Alcohol Shipping Has Become a Serious Problem.” Though it doesn’t say so anywhere in the story, I know it’s a paid-for article because the author, Kyle Swartz, is the editor of Beverage Dynamics and knows better than to compromise his integrity by writing a propaganda piece for the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America, quote them extensively, and not reach out to any other party for an alternative view without noting somewhere in the article that what’s being written is a paid for. So, I assume Kyle or his designer simply forgot to write “paid advertisement” at the top of their piece.
But that’s not what I was taken by with this piece. In discussing why the direct shipment of alcohol is such a bad thing, Michael Bilello, WSWA senior vice president for communications and marketing, makes the following argument:
“If you’re a licensed retailer, you’re paying rent or own your building, you care about your community and you know your customers by name. You’re not going to sell underage kids alcohol because you know their parents, you know their family and you know they’re underage kids. Think about the…training that bartenders go through. That bartender is held accountable if someone is intoxicated. If someone is intoxicated and stumbles into a retail store, store employees are not going to sell that person product.” But when you have a box sent to a doorstep, someone is not there to ascertain the totality of the situation.”
This is not an argument that direct shipment of alcohol might get into the hands of children. It’s not an argument that taxes won’t be paid on alcohol that is shipped directly to a consumer. Nor is this an argument that what’s being shipped is counterfeit.