Saturday, June 29, 2013

You Booze, You Lose

Mark Steyn reports on a story out of Virginia's own Charlottesville:
When a half-dozen men and a woman in street clothes closed in on University of Virginia student Elizabeth Daly, 20, she and two roommates panicked.

That led to Daly spending a night and an afternoon in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. Her initial offense? Walking to her car with bottled water, cookie dough and ice cream just purchased from the Harris Teeter in the Barracks Road Shopping Center for a sorority benefit fundraiser.

A group of state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents clad in plainclothes approached her, suspecting the blue carton of LaCroix sparkling water to be a 12-pack of beer. Police say one of the agents jumped on the hood of her car. She says one drew a gun. Unsure of who they were, Daly tried to flee the darkened parking lot.

"They were showing unidentifiable badges after they approached us, but we became frightened, as they were not in anything close to a uniform," she recalled Thursday in a written account of the April 11 incident.

"I couldn't put my windows down unless I started my car, and when I started my car they began yelling to not move the car, not to start the car. They began trying to break the windows. My roommates and I were ... terrified," Daly stated.

Shit, I've shopped at Barracks Road before! These things can happen in your own backyard.

What a remarkable exchange. Here's an incredible statement from the Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney:
Chapman stood by the agents' decision to file charges, citing faith in a process that yielded an appropriate resolution.

"You don't know all the facts until you complete the investigation," he said.
Do tell. It might have done more good if the ABC agents had gathered more "facts" before engaging in their own bizarre quasi-vigilante "investigation." But who are we to question Virginia's modern-day answer to Elliot Ness?

A while ago there was a healthy debate in Virginia, spearheaded by Bob McDonnell, on whether or not the state should privatize the ABC stores. After all, what business does the government have in so heavily regulating alcohol? The sneering dismissals from the left were quite amusing: why bother? It's not a big deal, it's not important, there's way more critical political stuff to focus on than whether or not the government sells you spirits or not. Well, perhaps Daly would disagree with them.

The whole thing is illustrative. "Alcoholic Beverage Control" starts out merely as control of alcoholic beverages. Now it's moved to "Non-Alcoholic Beverage Control." Eventually the state will give up any pretense, and it will simply rename the department to "Control." At least the government will be more streamlined. But if you want sparkling water, you'll probably be out of luck.

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