In an article in some major newspaper (can’t remember) leading up to the “Beer Summit,” I read a comment from an appalled reader about how insensitive the beer element of this summit is to alcoholics, AA members and addicts… for some sputtering outraged reason I couldn’t really parse. People have had so fucking much to say about this (even deconstructing the class-conscious message they sent in choosing to pow-wow over a beer, instead of over a bottle of wine). Anyway, I wasn’t really tempted to post about this one commenter’s conniption.
But, over on Examiner.com (which is proving to be a gold-mine lately), there’s a piece up by L. Steven Sieden, titled “Alcoholics Anonymous and other addiction group members upset about Obama’s ‘Beer Summit’” in which he reports:
At a time when addiction is front and center as an issue (especially for youth), members of groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are openly upset about this public use of alcohol.
Although these organizations do not formally endorse or dispute any political initiatives, individual members are not happy about it. They, like most responsible parents of young children, would prefer that Obama had invited the two men to the White House for lunch or tea or something else.
I know it’s common practice for reporters, who want to interject their opinions into the news, to use the old, “Some people say…” as a way of saying what they think (or what their moms think) — or they use it as a way of generating controversy out of thin air. I don’t want to accuse this writer of doing such a thing, but the absence of any sources whatsoever is glaring. Of course, when you’re talking about AA, you can always point out — as he does — that AA does not involve itself in public controversy.
If you google around to see who’s saying this, you’ll find Mr. Sieden’s article dominating the search results. I am curious about who these people are. It’s not that I doubt that there are people taking issue with it, because you know how the people are — they’re always appalled. But I didn’t even see anything on the MADD website about it. I didn’t do too much poking around, because I figure that if there were as much of an outcry as Sieden says, it wouldn’t take a lot of sleuthing to come up with it. And if I have to comb through the internet looking for it, then it’s probably not an outcry of any measure.
But “Alcoholics Anonymous” is in his title. And if he’s not speaking for AA, but just reporting, and if AA is not talking, then where’s he getting his information? Does being a “reporter” and an AA member (which he does not say he is) give you license to write about what your pals say at the Meeting after the Meeting? To speak for AA without speaking for AA? If you’re a member, can you say, “Members say…” because you say it, without being accountable for your opinion?
I found it interesting that Sieden didn’t mention the fact that Vice President Biden chose a non-alcoholic beer, because he doesn’t drink alcohol. You’d think that this would be noteworthy. The guys sit down for a beer, and the guy who doesn’t drink alcohol still doesn’t drink alcohol, and is still a guy!