I have been watching Ken Burn’s documentary on Prohibition. The Temperance Movement saw all alcohol consumption as damnable. It was clear– heaven or hell, saints or sinners, intoxication or abstinence.The beer above is Unibroue’s Maudite (the Damned). Some buddies and I enjoyed this last week. One of my bucket list items is to get to the Belgian-Styled Unibroue Brewery in Quebec. Quebec is a heck of a lot closer than Belgium. Not in favor of using demonic allusions, though.
First, I want to get something off of my chest: If I hear one more pseudo-sophisticate utter “You can’t legislate morality” I might just punch the TV. Murderers, Rapists, Child Molesters, maybe we should apologize for legislating morality on you. Please forgive us. The point of Prohibition is that society cannot legislate morality if it is not definitively immoral. Drinking alcohol can be wrong, it can be right. Depends on how much. Drunkenness is a sin. Drinking alcohol in moderation, not a sin. There is no doubt that drunkenness was a social problem before, during, and after Prohibition. There are a lot of reasons for this that I really don’t have the time to expound upon.
Briefly…hard lives, hard work, hard places…the desire to deaden the pain and promote pleasure. It ran amok as all pursuit of excessive pleasure does.
Although legislating morality is not as black and white as the purists still presume, there is little doubt that stupidity can be legislated. Prohibition aimed too high and as a result created a de facto industry of law-breaking below…it sought to use law to change hearts. Better to change hearts and the law will follow. One of the cardinal rules of this jurisprudence is never create a law that cannot be enforced. All that happens is it takes a gray area and puts it into the black market. In trying to create heaven, it ushered in hell.
The rule of Not too much, by temperance taught. In what thou eat’st and drink’st.
- John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book XI, line 531.