Tomayto, Tomahto

An editorial writer for the Lewiston Tribune wrote that folks should “quit picking on” me, and I appreciate the sentiment. But this expression of charity was too much for one letter writer, a woman named Joan Opyr, who wrote an indignant response.

It turns out that I have been picking on Moscow — for several decades, it appears — and it is not the case, she argued, that the intoleristas were coming after me. All she was tired of was me apparently getting a “free pass” with everything I do. Everybody else has to obey the law, but not me. Everybody else around here drives on the right side of the road, but there I go, down the left side of the road, with my feet out the window.

Her basis for saying this was that other groups have to fill out a request for a waiver or a permit to use alcohol on the UI campus, but not the antinomian kirker scofflaws! But actually, what happened was this — facts anyone? — on April 13, 2005, long before the first peep from the temperance enforcer ladies, we did fill out an application just like the others. And this is what our letter writer has in common with the other intoleristas of Moscow. It is simply assumed that we are up to no good, breaking all the rules. They then declare this to be the case publicly, and take our denials as evidence of further perfidy.

We filled out the application because we wanted to go the second mile, be good neighbors, etc. In retrospect, it is clear that this was a mistake. The waiver form presupposes that the event in question is a party of some sort, a booster function, and that the alcohol involved is beverage alcohol. The UI has no forms, and no official categories, for the use of sacramental wine. This is why when Jewish groups have used UI facilities in the past for their Passover Seders, they have not been told that in the eyes of the UI, those Jews under the age of 21 are not permitted to exercise their faith. Neither have we had letter writers opining in the Lewiston Tribune that they are tired of a “free pass” being given to the Jews of the Palouse. So, knowing what we now know, filling out this form appears to have been unnecessary on our part, and an honest mistake. The law does not require us to treat the use of sacramental wine as though it were in some other kind of category. In the context of people complaining about us in their letter (see the next point), the UI tried to make our situation fit on the Procrustean bed of their current forms for beverage alcohol at parties. But be that as it may, we did fill out a form (dutifully) in April, only to have a defender of our temperance biddies roar in, claiming that it was not so much the alcohol that bothered her, it was the refusal on our part to fill out the right forms. Geez Lousise.

Our letter writer also attempted to distinguish filing a complaint from writing a letter of complaint. We had said the temperance ladies had filed a complaint, whereas she contradicts us by pointing out that they actually had written a letter of complaint. To which I respond — “Doctor! You’re cutting too deep — you’re scratching the table!” She denied that Rose Huskey and Saundra Lund (our temperance crusaders) had filed a complaint against us. She affirmed that they had in fact written a letter objecting to our religious practice of giving sacramental wine to worshippers under the age of 21. Got that? Tomayto, tomahto.

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