Drinking is a privilege, not a right.
Whether perfectly accurate or not, overheard at a Neepawa coffee clutch, was a conversation about a Neepawa-area man who appeared in a Brandon court after a liquor-fuelled dustup that left a Brandon woman injured.
We've all heard similar stories.
At the conclusion of the court case, it was said that he was set free and put on a no-alcohol restriction. You see, alcohol was blamed, not the idiot drunk.
According to the source of the scuttlebutt, just three nights later, that same man was seen again exercising his right arm vigorously in a glass-to-mouth motion. And yes, despite the restriction, he was hammered… again.
For most, alcohol is what it is. A beverage, something most find pleasant, but not all that important.
However, there are a significant few, that alcohol is the only thing. The only thing that ruins them, and the only thing that ruins us.
This destruction affects us all, whether it be through personal relationships, crime or taxes.
Whether we drink or not, it affects every man, woman and child in the Manitoba heartland in one manner or another. As crime, homelessness and socio-economic excuses become bigger and more costly to the average Neepawa Joe, the question begs itself, what can we as a society do about it?
We are not about to introduce a moratorium on alcohol when the ailments of a few outweigh the enjoyment of the many, the true answer lies in the question: Should every human being have the right to drink alcohol?
In perspective, should every human being be allowed to drive a vehicle?
The blind, the mentally-challenged?
In every country of the world, driving is a privilege for the same reason: Responsibility and ability.
If one cannot handle or prove their ability and responsibility to properly handle a vehicle, they are denied a licence.
Given the social consequences of alcohol, should not the same rules apply?
We live in a world of governance, and where such governance applies, there will always be law-breakers. But, given the low percentage of law-breakers, would it not make sense to establish certain guidelines that, at least, would have a chance at enforcement.
Yet, unlike a person whose driver's licence is revoked, there is little or no enforcement, and more succinctly, regulation to limit one's ability to re-offend.
In nearly every retail operation there are club and loyalty cards, even a cursory application of this sort of program could provide a legitimate, perhaps miniscule, deterrent to those court-mandated to not drink alcohol.
Yes, there are loopholes, such as others buying alcohol for those not allowed, but that is going on now, or have you not seen or heard of a minor getting drunk?
The proper program put in place can make a difference, even if it amounts to one person, who can't responsibly handle alcohol, not getting drunk one night.
Is that, in itself, not worth it?
In Canada, it is a privilege, not a right, to drive a vehicle or own a gun. While the gun registry boondoggle is obviously not the model to follow, driver licensing is.
Call it a drinking licence or alcohol possession, acquisition licence or whatever, but the point is, there would be something tangible to take away from those who abuse the privilege and hinder their ability to re-offend.
An idiotic idea? Perhaps. Will it ultimately solve the problem? No.
But it could be the first step in truly enforcing court-mandated abstinence.