Wet/dry debate makes for interesting afternoon of radio

The liquor question can galvanize interest among county citizens as can few other issues. So it is with the current proposed wet/dry referendum that Blount Countians must either approve or disapprove, if it survives the petitioning process and appears on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.

The issue brought about an interesting hour’s worth of live radio last Friday afternoon, hosted by WKLD’s Danny Bentley and The Blount Countian’s Rob Rice. Some 115 people called in to make their opinions known. Another group, something short of a dozen, showed up at the studio to support their spokesmen.

“Who won?” It was a narrow dry victory: 48 dry to 44 wet. In the early going, the drys jumped out to a commanding 15-2 lead. But that lead evaporated gradually over the hour. Then, in the waning minutes of the broadcast, the wets staged a dramatic surge from 10 votes down, closing out with five straight to bring the afternoon to its 48-44 conclusion.

Predictably, many wet voters appropriated proponents’ economic arguments centering on increased retail tax revenues and their benefits to county schools and government. Likewise, many dry voters appealed to their Christian faith, and the importance of enduring values of spirtuality and a wholesome home and cultural setting.

Genuinely moving moments occurred when callers spoke from the heart of human misery and travail resulting from abuse, neglect, violence, and other ills that invariably attend excessive drinking.

It was an interesting afternoon, sometimes entertaining, sometimes sobering, reflecting a populace closely divided on a matter that, while not quite on a scale with war and death, is nevertheless of real importance.