This Issue's Issue: Selling Alcohol In Private Shops - The Reykjavik Grapevine

This Issue’s Issue: Selling Alcohol In Private Shops

This Issue’s Issue: Selling Alcohol In Private Shops

Published March 4, 2016

Photos by
Art Bicnick

These days everything is just facts, facts, facts. You hop on social media and every armchair pundit is just posting statistics, research findings, and reasoned analysis. We at the Grapevine seek to fill the void with some much-needed arguing from the left and the right, those two directions that we all know and love. Our pundits shall remain nameless, as they are, like all pundits, humble people, shy of the spotlight.

FOR:
Imagine it’s Tuesday night. You’re planning on hosting a dinner for some friends at your spacious home in the suburbs. You’ve already picked up the usual stuff you’d get for an average dinner with friends: lobster, gourmet reindeer steaks, fine cigars, a giant marzipan cake formed into the likeness of Ayn Rand’s face. But you forgot to pick up some champagne! Not to worry, you say: You can just get some from the local supermarket, or a mom-and-pop liquor store, right?

Dead wrong! Only the government is allowed to sell alcohol in Iceland (well, unless you count bars and restaurants), so if you want to buy champagne after six, too bad. Your guests will just have to settle for sparkling apple juice or, god forbid, bottled water.

Last time I checked, we don’t live in a police state. If I own a corner grocery store and want to sell 40s of Cobra or fluted bottles of Dom Perignon, it should be my constitutionally protected right to do so. This issue is so central to basic human rights, it was the first issue the Independence Party took up in Parliament the Monday after the banks collapsed. And with good reason.

We cannot let the government ruin another dinner party. We need to pressure our elected representatives to focus on the issues that really matter—like being able to buy a bottle of Motörhead Shiraz at nine in the evening.

AGAINST:
Have you ever wandered through downtown Reykjavík on a Friday night? Have you seen the way we behave when we can only get alcohol from any of the hundreds of bars, clubs and restaurants all over the city? Now imagine if we had access to alcohol in any given privately owned store.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my country, and believe my fellow Icelanders are a modern and sophisticated people who are part of international society. So I hope I don’t sound prejudiced when I say we are far too primitive and savage to be able to handle unfettered access to alcohol. We would literally drink all the time. Complete societal collapse would happen within weeks. Thousands of drunk schoolchildren, wandering the streets begging for food, which they wouldn’t get, because everyone’s too drunk to work. Green cans littering every square metre of space. A permanent cloud of beer breath hanging over us year round.

Is that the kind of Iceland you want to see? I know I don’t, and I don’t think anyone would want to raise their children in such a country. But that’s exactly what we’ll get if we legalise alcohol. A failed state.

The only people who could possibly stand to benefit from legalising the private sale of alcohol are the people who make it and sell it. They would become our overlords, rulers of a vast feudal state, where we peasants would be sowing and reaping the very grains Big Alcohol uses to keep us drunk and complacent. I say, fight the power. Strike a blow for justice, and for the survival of the nation itself. Block private alcohol.

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