First in Novi Sad in 2009 and now in Belgrade 2011, City Councils decided to prohibit selling alcohol (and of course I mean booze - I can still go to a local apothecary and get some alcohol in the middle of the night if I need it... thank whoever for small favours, eh?) between 23PM and 6AM in Novi Sad and between 22PM and 6AM in Beograd. Not just to minors - to anybody and everybody. Grand explanation behind the decision(s)? Why, to prevent all the "Bad Stuff"(TM) alcohol brings, of course - public drunkness, street fights, late-night drinking and the accompanying noise, traffic accidents, you name it. Likely, no alcohol during the night also helps daisies grow better and makes little puppies happy, too.
Sounds idiotic to ya? Likely because it is.
The story continues pretty much the way you expect it to: big store chains have nothing against the decision, all it means to them is more customers stocking up on their booze earlier in the evening. Small local stores are, naturally, against it, especially those that work all night. Because, naturally, people aren't very keen on bying groceries and fresh fruit at 2AM but are very interested in ciggies and beer (and a hamburger wouldn't be so bad, either).
Now for the twist which isn't unexpected at all: about a month ago, the High Court (or however you call it) ruled that the prohibition decision in Novi Sad is, you guessed it, unconstitutional! As we all knew it was fromthe word go. And again not unexpectedly at all, in a fit of brilliance, Beograd's Council makes the very same decision and prohibit alcohol sales in my city after 22PM. Yep, that would be that unconstitutional decision I just told you about; the same one.
Yes, of course people are protesting. And yeah, the complaint is already sent to the High Court. And yes, of course it'll be ruled unconstitutional all over again. It's not a matter of "if", only "when".
It is, however, that "when" that bothers me the msot.
Because until it's -again- ruled unconstitutional, this prohibition remains effective (even though it technically shouldn't because it is, you know, against the highest law of the country and as such, worthless...?). Which in turn means that right now, it's close to 23PM here and even though I really, really wanted a bottle of cider right around now, they wouldn't sell it to me in the store around the corner. Which makes me thoroughly pissed, as you may well imagine.
Wanna fight alcoholism? Wanna prevent fights, public drunkness, traffic acidents etc? Fine - Do it! But the way to go about it is to actively work on those issues, first and foremost, to properly educate people and above all, to -and this is the tough part- raise your damned kids properly. The way to do it, conversly, isn't to pervent adults from doing whatever the heck they want with their livers at any ungodly hour they choose. Unless we became Saudi Arabia over night and I just failed to notice (which, given the way this country is going, wouldn't surprise me either). Until we do, however, it is my constitutional right to get sloshed whenever the hell I want. Moreover, it is my constitutional right to buy anything not labeled 'illegal' at any damn time I want to.
Of course none of this really has anything to do with the declarative 'battle against alcoholism' (and sicne when is a bottle of beer or cider "alcoholism" anyway?). It has to do with large store chains getting more buyers stocking up on booze during the day. About politicians being their idiot selves because that's apperantly what they're for. Above all, though, it's about trying, for the thousand tome in a row, to officially treat symptoms instead of the cause even if it proved to be ineffective times and again.
Just like those damned ERSB ratings and similar crap. So much easier to just prevent your kids from seeing a tit (gasp!) or too much blood (gaspgasp!) on TV or in a video game then to actually sit down and spend some time with them talking, or playing or... well, educating them? No, no, let the state and the rest of the self-proclaimed guardians of morality do your job for you.
And why not take it one step further, then? Why not let the state take care of you as well? You are, clearly, an infantile little thing, ignorant to the effects of drugs, ciggies, alcohol and exposed tits, so instead of having to control yourself regarding those things, let the state cut off your acess to them. But of course, without actually banning any of it as such. This is, after all, a democracy, no?
Next up: prohibition of sex between 22PM and 6AM - Workers who fail to get theri good night sleep are less productive at work tomorrow and we all know that sex is number one reason for sleepless nights. So, in order to help you, the citizen, be at your best productive and healthy self, sex shall be banned from 22PM to 6AM. For your own good. It became an instant running joke here the moment the alcohol sale prohibition came to pass. I am, however, slightly worried about it staying in the domain of a joke. After all, the idea makes as much sense as the one regarding alcohol and we definitely don't lack idiots who'd go for this, too.
I am ranting. I know. I feel like ranting. I feel I am right to rant. Above all, I am still thoroughly, totally and irreversibly pissed. I really do want that cider, dammit!