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Monday, October 15, 2007

Bluenoses are everywhere

For all of you who still think that the New Drys are strictly right wing groups, or religious groups, take a gander at this. Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan strongman who is neither right-wing nor, as far as I know, particularly religious, is on a moral crusade in Venezuela to create the "New Man, a socialist revolutionary with a monk-like purity of purpose." Students of Soviet history, stop me if you've heard this before... The rest of you, read on.

Chavez is concerned about how much whiskey his countrymen drink (I've covered this in "Whisky News" in Malt Advocate, with much glee), and how many Hummers they buy. But the people with smaller budgets piss him off, too:
Chavez is also concerned that too many Venezuelans swill beer on street corners. Irked by unregulated beer sales in the slums, he has warned that beer trucks selling alcohol directly on the streets would be seized. ... "I've told the National Guard to stop and seize any truck going around selling beer in the street as if it were ice cream," he said. "This cannot be permitted."

The president has a long list of other "New Man" recommendations: don't douse foods with too much hot sauce, exercise regularly, eat low-cholesterol foods, respect speed limits. He also wants parents to stop buying Barbie dolls — and breast jobs — for their daughters.

"Now some say, 'When my daughter turns fifteen years old, we're going to give her phony breasts.' What a horrible thing! It's the latest degeneration," Chavez told one packed auditorium.
SeƱor Chavez? Nurse Ratchett calling; it's time for your electroshock therapy. You'll have to spit out your gum, sir. Thank you, sir: bite down...


Stonch said...

Clearly, the personal life is dead in Venezuela...

I don't wish to defend Chavez, but do remember that the circumstances he is talking about are very different to those in the USA.

Lew Bryson said...

Oh, are defending him. The 'circumstances' he's talking about are mostly him being just a bit loony on some things. Don't use too much hot sauce? Stop getting your daughters boob jobs? Oh, my.

Mostly posted for fun, but I did want to make the point that it's really not just religious wackos and right-wingers who are anti-alcohol. Chavez is a frickin' poster child for that argument.

Joel said...

When it comes to Venezuela, you shouldn't believe anything you read in the U.S. media.

Also, I think Chavez's condemnation of widespread alchohol abuse and unregulated (untaxed?) booze sales is a far cry from prohibitionism.

Lew Bryson said...

The International Herald Tribune? NYT-owned, based in Paris, and I shouldn't believe what I read? The story's being reported around the world, Joel: Google News puts it all at your fingertips. I've been following this story for over a year, in U.S. and European media; this is not something I just cherry-picked off the wires.

But you know what, guys? This isn't about Venezuela. This is about anti-alcohol fervor not being the unique preserve of religious and/or right-wing groups, something I've been saying for years. Prohibition passed in the U.S. thanks to an alliance of conservative-religious and progressive-secular groups. The New Drys in America today are a similar wide spectrum of representation. What I'm really saying is that to focus on one side or the other of that alliance is to keep your own efforts one-sided, and risk alienating parts of that group that are not anti-alcohol. I assume we're all on the side of the Wets here, no?

Stonch said...

Lew, with respect I think you've gone off topic on this one.

I think it's great that you're standing up against all this neo-prohibitionist nonsense in America, but the reference to Venezuela doesn't really convince me.

As Joel says, it is very difficult to believe anything one hears from the American media about that country or its leader. Personally, I'm not fully informed so I just reserve judgement.

Lew Bryson said...


As I said to Joel, this is not just the American media reporting(and they are all unreliable? Really? Who am I allowed to believe? Only Venezuelan sources? See, I have a similar problem with that...): check the Web. It's not a one-shot story, either: Chavez's anti-whisky campaign has been reported over the past year in the press in the UK, for instance.

As for relevance...are you then saying that you do believe that the New Drys -- in America only, if you must -- are religious and right-wing? Because if you do, I'll be happy to refute that in a new post, without any references to Hugo Chavez or Venezuela.

Anonymous said...

They're right, Lew, you should only believe what Sean Penn says about Chavez.

Anonymous said...

Not defending Chavez, but he is, in my book, batting .500 which is much better than most US politicians. Sure the hot sauce, beer and barby doll opinions are kooky, but getting more exercise, eating low cholesterol food and respecting speed limits (as someone who walks to work) are all things I support. The US would be a better society if people paid attention to these issues. The breast implant I havent thought out enough. I dont think I'd want my daughter being so insecure and unhappy with herself she'd want breast implants. I know I dont want my girlfriend with them. As a society (the only one?) who still mutilates their baby boys without consent, I would question the efficacy of boob jobs.

Stonch said...

Lew, I'll hold my hands up and say that I'm not sure whether the New Drys are entirely right wing (bear in mind that to many a European - me included - the Democrats are definitely centre-right). Most of the education I've had on the subject has come from you, so if you've got more to tell me, go ahead!

Lew Bryson said...

Okay, this is going off the rails. This wasn't really about Chavez and Venezuela so much as it was about the prohibitionist aspects...and I don't really want this to be a political blog except where it touches on alcohol -- I've tried to keep my own politics on non-alcohol issues out of it, because I can't imagine anyone really cares.

So...I'm closing comments.

I will post on the political composition of the New Drys/anti-alcohol groups, Stonch, but elsewhere.