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The Bourbon Boycott for Social Justice



I love Kentucky bourbon far beyond the double-shot buzz on Saturday afternoon. The texture, flavor, and warmth are all well-mannered. But because of a Kentucky clerk’s fitful refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples after being ordered to do so by the courts, I have sworn off this godly nectar.

I considered switching to Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, which has a divinity close to KB, but California voters passed Proposition 8 in 2008, reversing the nuptial rights of same-sex couples. And although that measure was ultimately overturned as unconstitutional, I still can’t support the California wine industry in good conscience. The old standby of French spirits could work, but that country strikes me as a little too socialist for the common good.

I thought about a well-known Southern whiskey. Then I remembered. Tennessee is the only state that does not allow transsexuals to amend the sex designation on their birth certificates, a demonstrable prejudice against another minority, so I can’t contribute to my birth state.

I wondered about Texas moonshine, but Texas is Texas, and there’s so much to ponder—women’s reproductive rights, governors who became presidents, conservatives who embarrass the category. Thus, it seems illegitimate to sip Lone Star lightning. Besides, as a Rhode Islander who has driven across Texas on Interstate 10 and wondered whether I’d ever get across, those 900 miles were so deliberately expansive that I’m suffering the sin of Envy.

And what about saki? With international whaling issues and dolphins trapped in fishing nets, I had to disqualify it. Not to mention, I don’t like rice wine. One promising solution was homebrew. With some effort and expenditure, I might render a 100-proof fluid that wouldn’t kill or blind me. But I, too, have my share of historical excesses, so there’s no pretending I’m much better than the average Kentucky fruitcake. Nor is reasonable to penalize commercial distilleries while ignoring my own shortcomings. In fairness, I must self-boycott.

I understand that refusing to buy a particular product from a particular supplier will have no particular effect. Hence, I should probably just embrace my favorite brew and leave crazy to run its course. In fact, a calming shot seems to make injustice easier to swallow; so logically, thoroughbred whiskey should canter back to my Saturday afternoons.

It should, and someday it will. But at the moment, my trifling protest tastes sweeter than the bourbon I love.

This story was written by Claudine Griggs. Claudine is the Writing Center Director at Rhode Island College, and her publications include three nonfiction books about transsexuals along with a couple dozen articles on writing, teaching, and other topics. She has also recently begun writing fiction, publishing four stories, and hopes to draft more science fiction, her first-love genre as a teenager. Griggs earned her BA and MA in English at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
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