November 07, 2006

Cum vinum intrat, exit sapientia

In English: When wine enters, wisdom exits.

I wanted to do today's proverb because I heard someone on the radio say something just like this (in English, of course - not in Latin) earlier today, given that we have on our state ballot a proposition regarding the sale of liquor in liquor stores on election days!

Here is the text of that proposition:
Package store sales of these beverages are prohibited on election days while the polls are open. This measure would remove the ban on sales on election days. If this measure passes, package stores could sell alcoholic beverages on election days.
So yes, as voters walked into the voting booth today in Oklahoma, they were given the opportunity to express their views about selling liquor on election day.

Once upon a time, the idea was to protect people from the danger of drunken voters. You know, I worry a lot about UNINFORMED voters, and liquor is not necessarily the most pernicious cause of ignorance on voting day, despite what the Latin proverb tells us.

What's ironic, of course, is that bars are still selling liquor on election day. And you can get all the beer you want at the local 7-11 and all the other convenience stores; it's just the package stores (liquor stores) that we are being protected from on election day. So you can go to a bar on election day, drink your fill, and then vote: the wine goes in, the wisdom goes out, but your ballot still gets counted. There's no breathalyzer there at the voting booth.

I don't know what it's like in the state where you live, but Oklahoma is still littered with all kinds of wacky laws regarding liquor. For example, anyone under the age of 21 is barred, absolutely barred, from entering a liquor store. As a result, people have to leave their children unattended in the car outside. There's a liquor store in Oklahoma City where the owner, or his wife, will sit in the car with the kids so that their parents can shop in the store at leisure.

So, given the state proposition in Oklahoma, I'd say this proverb can be taken two different ways. On the one hand, there is the simple, literal way to take it: when people get drunk, they sure can get foolish! But I'd also like to suggest that it can be taken more broadly: when questions about alcohol end up on the political agenda, all kinds of foolishness can also result, like the strange set of ineffective and patently hypocritical laws surrounding alcohol here in Oklahoma.

So, we'll see what happens to this state question. Apparently, it is likely to go down to defeat. We'll see... if so, in order to drown my sorrows on election day, or perhaps to celebrate a victory (rare in my own voting life!), I'll have to visit the wine shop on Monday instead of election Tuesday.

As I type these words, the clock is ticking, the returns are rolling in, so I'll update this blog post when the results are final. I doubt this one is going to make the national news (except perhaps, alas, to make fun of Oklahoma).

*UPDATE* The Oklahoma State Constitution has been amended: the liquor stores in future will be able to be open on election day. We went by our favorite local liquor to congratulate them! It was 52% to 48%, but that's good enough for victory!

Meanwhile, here is today's proverb read out loud:

2244. Cum vinum intrat, exit sapientia.

The number here is the number for this proverb in Latin Via Proverbs: 4000 Proverbs, Mottoes and Sayings for Students of Latin.

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