BLACK MOUNTAIN, N.C.—In July 2009, the Black Mountain Alcohol Beverage Control Board fired two employees of the Black Mountain ABC Store on allegations that they had “failed to keep accurate records of the store's business and failed to maintain inventory,” according to the Black Mountain News. Earlier this month, computer records obtained by the paper obtained from the North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Control Commission showed that the employees also had accessed porn on work computers.
The revelation of the porn watching is now being used to justify the firing of the employees, who reached a settlement with the ABC last year. The records indicate that 64 porn sites were visited during a 10-month period. Shift schedules and deposit records were not part of the documents submitted to the state, but a letter from the ABC Board attached to the documents nonetheless claimed that the records prove that the fired employees, David Turbyfill and Kenneth Teague, were responsible for “almost all of the internet access.”
North Carolina is a “blue law” state in which the sale of alcohol is regulated in order to enforce religious standards. State law decrees that the sale of alcohol is prohibited from 2 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Sundays and from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. on other days of the week. Liquor stores in the state are called ABC stores and are closed on Sundays. Hunting also is illegal on Sundays.
But porn is not illegal in the state, though agencies like the ABC and many others throughout the country, including federal ones like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Minerals Management Service, have been expending precious resources investigating the use of workplace computers and time in the pursuit of porn. Some of the investigations have yielded results and the predictable media coverage that follows.
This case is relatively insignificant, of course, especially when placed against those having to do with federal regulators supposedly overseeing the economy and offshore oil rigs, but it still highlights the extent to which porn is currently being portrayed as a catalyst for either lax behavior or outright incompetence.
Turbyfill did not return calls from the Black Mountain News, but Teague did, though he declined to say whether he had in fact watched porn at the store, telling the paper, “If we talk about it, we can get in trouble,” adding, “All this stuff was supposed to have been taken care of by lawyers. That's all I can say.”
The larger issue for the North Carolina ABC is the perceived the need to reform or privatize liquor sales in the state, one of 18 in the country with state liquor sales, and the only one that delegates oversight of the stores to local boards, according to the paper.
Now that the scourge of porn is on the table, maybe those angling for privatization will have the wedge issue they’ve been looking for since at least 2007.