Blue laws

It’s currently fashionable in some circles to worry about the future domination of shariat. People who have previously had no opinion of Islam suddenly develop a strong dislike of it because they worry about being forced to obey its laws.

A cousin recently told me about a tourist trip to Israel. The most visible threat to her safety was from the ultra-Orthodox who were offended by things like people driving on Sabbath, married women with uncovered hair. Much of Judaism is already codified into law there, much to the detriment of the atheists, agnostics and followers of other religions.

I was reminded of all that when grocery shopping at 10am on a Sunday morning. Though I do not drink alcohol, I wanted to buy cider and beer for guests. I forgot that Tennessee law prohibits sale of alcohol on Sundays before noon. Typical of the blue laws, it inconveniences the general population for some obscure reason that makes sense to religious zealots. The only result it has achieved so far is fostering contempt and the animosity for the meddlers in the legislature and for those who lobbied for such restrictions. I can buy the drinks on another day, but the resentment over the imposition remains.

One of the quickest path to being disliked is forcing your religious values on others by law. I ask adherents of all religions to separate themselves from the coercive government methods and stick to proselytizing by more friendly means.

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31 Responses to Blue laws

  1. Mark D says:

    While I see your point, and I don’t know the background of Tennessee’s law, I’d advise caution on crediting blue laws to “religion”. I live near a city in NJ (Paramus) that’s pretty much the shopping mall capitol of the world, and the entire county (Bergen) has laws against selling a wide variety of items on Sunday (clothing, furniture, appliances, basically anything except food/groceries). If you go to a store that sells both prohibited and non-prohibited items the prohibited items are roped off. They come up for repeal periodically, and the voters always decide to keep them. There aren’t enough practicing Christians in the county to keep these laws in effect, but there are enough people who’d like to be able to go out for a movie/lunch/dinner/brunch one day a week without sitting in traffic for a half hour to travel 10 miles, hence the blue laws.

    If I really need to buy a suit on Sunday I can drive to another county and do so. I also stay off NJ Rt 4 on Saturday afternoon unless I have PLENTY of time to kill.

    • Jesse says:

      If there are enough people who feel that way to keep the laws in effect, why do they need the law? Why can’t they just all voluntarily not shop for all that stuff on Sundays?

      • MattK says:

        Because that would require self restraint.

        That is the problem with a lot of laws. They exist not to protect people from others but to protect people from themselves.

        As for the OP, I would bet the blue laws started with religion and have over-time had other reasons dreamed up as an excuse to keep them. Georgia just went through the blue law argument and the religious groups said it was not about religion but about safety (drunk driving rate would go up if people were allowed to drink 7 days a week instead of just 6).

      • Ross says:

        Because, at least for Paramus, NJ, it’s not just the people in the town who shop at the malls. There are something like seven shopping malls lining Routes 4 & 17, plus innumerable smaller strip malls, so people from all over northern NJ and NYC and Rockland County come there to shop. It’s a freakin’ zoo on Saturdays and during the week. They want one day when their town isn’t a zoo.

        When I lived there I didn’t necessarily like that the stores were all closed on Sundays, but I understand it. It’s not as simplistic as MattK makes it out to be.

  2. T.Stahl says:

    Amen, Oleg! 😉

  3. drobvousso says:

    My faith says to do unto others as you would have them do unto. I want others to not impose on me religious rules that I don’t accept. Why is this so hard for others? I’ll never know.

    • Lyle says:

      Virtually no one in this country has been educated in the meaning of liberty for at least 60 years. That’s why.

  4. Very, very well said, Oleg.


  5. Old NFO says:

    Well said Oleg, well said!

  6. Dave says:

    “The only result it has achieved so far is fostering contempt and the animosity for the meddlers in the legislature and for those who lobbied for such restrictions.”

    Then could it be, all things considered, a good thing?

  7. Will says:

    you’re in the area of the country that originated “blue laws”. They were pretty restrictive when I was a kid there in the ’50s. They were all originally based in religion, or that was the stated basis when proposed. Any that still exist would be due to tradition, or as you report.
    One of the odd things I noticed when I moved to No. CA, was the stores closed earlier on Friday and Saturdays. At first, I was thinking that they roll up the sidewalks kind of early here in the West. Eventually, it dawned on me that they stayed open later back east due to being closed on Sundays.

  8. Scott J says:

    This sort of meddling is the one problem I have with being a Southern Baptist. So many of my fellow worshipers love the blue laws. The older ones longing for what it was like when I was young and the stores weren’t allowed to open at all on Sunday.

    Personally, I believe this comes from the attempted progressive takeover of the Churches back at the turn of the 20th Century. The temperence movement which started the push for the 18th Amendment came out of Churches. The progressives already had a full grip on the government.

    We’re repeating that history today. This time they’re selling Churches on the “green” collectivism and claiming Jesus was a weath redistributionist.

    Glenn Beck made a point a few months back that pulls the rug from under any such movement: God want’s man to have freedom of choice. If he didn’t then why did he put the Tree in the Garden in the first place?

    • Lyle says:

      “This time they’re selling Churches on the “green” collectivism and claiming Jesus was a wealth redistributionist.”

      Yeah, I have yet to see that part in the Bible where Jesus organizes a march to Rome and demands more taxation for the purpose of benevolence, arguing that people are too evil and stupid to follow his advice on charity and must therefore be forced into it at the point of a sword.

  9. Pingback: SayUncle » Meddler morality enforced by the state

  10. karrde says:

    Will: actually, Blue Laws date back to colonial times in Connecticut.

    Wiki has this, plus commentary on still-existing Blue Law in 21 states. Affected states range from Arkansas to Massachusetts to Wisconsin.

  11. Mr Evilwrench says:

    In IN, alcohol is off limits in stores all day Sunday, but you can go to a bar and get drinks there. For some reason, dealers are not allowed to sell vehicles on Sunday. Used to be, most stores weren’t open, but I don’t know whether that was law or custom.

  12. Bill says:

    I LIKE not having stores open on Sunday, not because I care if people shop, but because it fosters a day when people can actually do without the commercial nonsense.

    When stores aren’t open, and you forgot to buy sugar for Sunday dinner, you actually went next door and borrowed a cup. That meant you had to know your neighbor! How many of us have no idea who lives next door, or across the street? Sundays used to be the day for meeting them, having them over, etc.

    Not having a day of rest from the commercial side of life has hurt us, I think.

    • Ted N says:

      So… What’s keeping you from going over and saying hi when the store is open? Is there some magic brain wave control ray that they only turn on during business hours?

      If you want to be freindly, then go be freindly.

  13. Leatherwing says:

    In at least some cases, blue laws are supported by businesses. A locally owned business, run by the founder, has to be open for roughly the same hours as its national competitor. In order to have a day off (assuming the business owner is on site when the doors are open – especially true where all employees are family members) the local business forces its national competitors to also close. That was the argument from an Arkansas based liquor store owner.

  14. Gay_Cynic says:

    Right on, Oleg – as per usual.

    Frankly, any regulation of business hours and such makes me twitch to at least some extent. If a business can exist at all, it can exist 24/7 in my book (or not, as the owner dictates).

    But then I’m a wild-eyed radical that as a matter of principal, even as an asthmatic non-smoker, is of the view that smoking/non-smoking should be a matter for the individual business owner, not the state.

  15. Lanius says:

    Lenin once said that democracy is a train in which communists can ride, but which they can also leave when they so desire.

    Prior to the 1948 coup, commies swore they were not going to outlaw small and medium private enterprise, force collectivizations.. etc etc.

    If it’ll ever be possible for muslims to legislate their morality, it’ll be far, far too late, so we can’t rely on that. Let them worship in their countries, and not bring their house of peace to European lands. People who can’t accept secularism have no place in Europe.

  16. Lanius says:

    You don’t drink? What is it with Russian emigrees and alcohol? I know of several who won’t touch even light beer, which makes them look about as odd around here as if they had two heads. (average consumption of lager around here is 150 liters per year per person.. )

    Russian alcoholism must be truly horrific if it can make men forsake cold beer. I’d rather give up internet than beer.

    • Oleg Volk says:

      My parents let me drink what I want from age 5 or so, but I never developed a liking for alcohol. I’d also view intoxication as a bug, not as a feature.

      • Lanius says:

        Well.. intoxication is a bug, but drinking a little alcohol is beneficial to health. Red wine especially. I too don’t understand why in my teenage years my peers tended towards getting drunk on friday nights. Never did that, will only get drunk once in my life, possibly.

        And nothing’s better than cold beer after some physical exertion. Like fire, alcohol is a good servant but a bad master.. nothing worth doing imo is without risk. It’s true people can have fun without drinking, but a couple of beers in pleasant company seem to make one more spontaneous and less reserved. Of course one can achieve that by trying, but that’s work, and drinking beer or wine is a pleasure.

        I don’t drink much, about 30ml of rum per day, and a sometimes a beer or two, but only after I’ve earned it, or instead of sleeping pills before going to bed. (neurotic’s my middle name)

        Half a litre of lager is better than two Ambien pills, in my experience. Supposedly it’s something that’s in the hops..(
        The sleepiness lasts longer, beer in moderation is a healthy drink and there’s no risk of physical dependence if you don’t overdo it.

        • PeaceabeGuy says:

          The quote attributed to Washington is “government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

          I’ve sampled a few beers in years past, too – wasn’t impressed and never cared to acquire a taste for alcohol.

  17. dpatten says:

    I’m gonna push back on this with respect to Judaism. As far as Jews are concerned Non-Jews only need respect the 7 laws of Noah. The Noachide laws. Further, Rabbinical courts have never tried a Non-Jew for breaking these laws.

    • Oleg Volk says:

      In my friend’s case, the dangers were of being attacked physically, not legally.

    • Lanius says:

      Prohibition of Sexual immorality
      Prohibition of Blasphemy

      They can go tweak their ultraorthodox beards. Those two categories are so broad you could sail a supertanker through them.
      Sexual immorality is probably everything that’s not ‘procreative sex in the missionary position’.

      Really.. black hat jews seem as obnoxious as the basic islamist. Wouldn’t want to share a country with them.

  18. Will says:

    I suppose I should have been more specific when I referred to the area he lived in, and the time frame. When you live in those No. East States that comprise most of the original colonies, you grow up with a sense of their history. Old buildings, narrow roads, famous location names and the people associated with it. That is what I was thinking of when I wrote my comment. I associate those blue laws to the early colonies and their religious foundings. They would have spread from there to other parts of the country as people moved west.
    I suspect that most people look at these laws as a quaint holdover from early history, just like a lot of citizens view the Constitution these days. And would like them to go away equally, as well.

  19. As always, the question is “Cuisine Bono?”

    Baptists & Bootleggers support “blue laws” because both benefit from them.

    It usually takes little thought to figure out WHO – at which point WHY is usually obvious…

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