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Speaking of Prohibition …

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(Per this entry…)

When we talk of drugs, we often find much cause to talk about illegality. The two terms tend to go hand-in-hand. This is due to the fear of permitting people a chemically derived escape hatch from the effrontery of human existence, in my mere opinion. The Puritans wouldn’t have approved, you know. (Nonetheless, Thomas Jefferson might have approved simply to deal with working in the same administration as Alexander Hamilton, had he not been so busy trying to muster support for the French revolutionaries.)

There’s simply no moral scope for barring drugs from those who can use them wisely – the same argument applies to guns as well – which is to say, the great majority of people.

There is, however, great legal scope for it, and I am convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that if alcohol was to be discovered tomorrow, it would be regarded as the most notorious of drugs, ripe for the government’s Controlled Substances shit-list, and doomed to top even methamphetamine or heroin in terms of government-warning propaganda and proportion of anti-drug law funding spent in the attempt to control it.

The BBC aired a documentary entitled “Drunk and Dangerous” last night, focusing on drunken violence in Cardiff. The Welsh capital city is the hot spot for young revellers and a prime destination for bachelor parties/hen nights. Binge drinking takes place on a massive scale. (It’s nothing unique to Cardiff, as this entry attempts to make clear.) We can argue that the problem lies with the legal age being 18. But it’s not the whole story. Inebriation at any age is a potential danger to the individual and, if extrapolated amongst the general public, to society as well.

Alcohol, of course, needs only to be taken in moderation, and most of the general public does drink responsibly. In some cases, it calms people down rather than turns them into monsters (I consider myself considerably more temperamental while sober than when I’ve had a tipple.) It is even good for the heart when consumed in moderation. Any alcoholic drink, that is. (That, plus the bioflavonoids and reservatrol found in red wine makes the dark fermented grape juice my drink of choice.) The moral argument for suppressing drink loses yet more credibility.

And yet the scary point to be made is that there was a point in American history when alcohol was suddenly assumed to be the source of all evil in mankind, a great scourge upon society, and war was declared against the substance with the passage of Prohibition, which took a Constitutional Amendment to enforce (later nullified).

It also tells us something about the leaders of the time who publicly supported Prohibition. President Warren Harding was one of them, stolidly defending Prohibition while privately pouring bourbon down his throat. No surprise, really, to learn that Harding’s was one of the most corrupt administrations in American history.

Anyone who doubts the verity of the prohibitionist impulse needs only to witness the veracity with which it has historically been promoted from the Bully Pulpit, emphasis on “bully,” a.k.a. the Presidency.

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  • Eric Olsen

    Excellent points Mark, I agree entirely with your perspective, and the lack of any real moral difference between alcohol and other, banned, substances is one of the reasons I so abhor the war on drugs. If your going to do something, be consistent about it. The enrichment and empowerment of those who flout the law is no different now than it was during prohibition – that is reason alone to decriminalize and regulate drugs, jsut as is done with alcohol now.

    Otherwise, consistency would demand the criminalization of alcohol and tobacco, the greatest killer of them all.

  • bhw

    I agree. The distinction between alcohol and other drugs is purely arbitrary. But people have really bought into the idea that alchohol is somehow *different*.

    I remember my mother making negative statements about a certain heroin addicted, depressed celebrity who died by his own hand. When I asked why the hostility and would she show the same toward an alcoholic, she said, “Alcoholism is a DISEASE.”

    I reminded her that alcoholism is an addiction, and ADDICTION is the disease. She didn’t buy it — she held on to the notion that alcohol and the addiction to it are somehow “better” than other drugs and addictions to them.

    She also didn’t buy my assertion that alcohol is the real gateway drug [as opposed to pot], because, you know, it’s alcohol.

  • Mark Edward Manning

    Point definitely taken, bhw. Simply because it’s legal, alcohol is seen as no big deal. But pot – whoa! You can shoot someone in the head while stoned, it’s so dangerous, we must keep it illegal, and blah-de-blah … What a load of rubbish. I’ve found that for both myself and the majority of people I’ve ever known who’ve smoked cannabis, the desire to try another drug just doesn’t exist. When drunk, the temptation to try anything is great. I’m not saying that’s true for the majority of social drinkers/those who drink for enjoyment or to relax, who, in turn, make up most of society. It’s just that you have a healthy minority of people who can’t handle booze and/or drink it to excess and commit violence and mayhem. Who, however, has ever caused trouble simply from consuming marijuana? Answer. Very, very few.

  • Shark

    Manning, pretty good post. Congrats.

    [Paragraph Deleted: Shark now self-censoring his own posts in order to deprive Justene a smidgen of perverse pleasure]

    Here’s an offer, Marco: one night sittin’ under the stars with me and a heroic dose of illegal mushrooms — and you’ll be a fanatical left-wing liberal chanting OM and wearing an “Eat The Rich” T-shirt.


    PS: RJ Elliott took me up on it, and contrary to popular opinion, he’s not banned: he migrated to Holland to work for a left-wing eco-terrorist group.

  • Tom

    What is crazy is that Marijuana is a schedule 1 drug, considered the most dangerous and illegal. Cocaine, however is a Schedule 3 drug, considered not that bad.

  • Mark Edward Manning

    Shark: “Here’s an offer, Marco: one night sittin’ under the stars with me and a heroic dose of illegal mushrooms — and you’ll be a fanatical left-wing liberal chanting OM and wearing an “Eat The Rich” T-shirt.

    LMAO, Shark. OK, deal. But you do realize if that scenario were actually to play out, it would run the plausible risk of me changing my mind about the drug legalization!

    (Incidentally, did RJ really get banned, or did he simply leave? I know he was getting frustrated with the often aggressive feedback he’d receive.

    **Thought enters my head: No, RJ, no way … that never happens here!)

  • Eric Olsen

    RJ was not banned, he was suspended for two weeks, which is now up, he is free to return.

  • Phillip Winn

    For that matter, he has continued to comment under various assumed names until I blocked each one. It only slowed him down, that’s all.

  • Scott Pepper

    Cocaine is schedule II, not schedule III, because it does have FDA accepted medical uses. Cannabis is schedule I because the FDA does not recognize any accepted medical use. Drug scheduling has very little to do with legality or danger and more to do with accepted use in a medical setting and abuse potential.

  • Douglas Mays

    So good of you to bring up the truth about booze. My experience working in the ER at Harborview Medical Center (The only class 1 ER in the Northwest) in the mid 70s sure was an eye opener to the reality of that drug.

    Besides all the physical damage, think of this: Your late stage alchoholic sent off to long term treatment. After a month or so in treatment the patient sneaks out and meets some of his drinking buddies. They go have a drink. Maybe just one or two. The aolchoholic patient dies. Right off the bat! The body can’t handle the poison anymore. I saw that happen so many times it was sick and sad…

    Alchohol is an extremely physically addicting drug. Oh, I didn’t even get into outright alchohol overdoses. Heroin can only kill you from overdose, alchohol can kill you just from not using it if you are a late stage alchoholic. Or, if you are cleaning up your act, it can kill you from just using a small amount…

    Mark, thanx for the perspective. Paragraph 3 of your article “if alchohol was to be discovered tomorrow” is so fucking right on. I say this from a scientific, medical, etc. point of view in which I observed first hand.

    blah, blah, blah, but it really shows how fucked up things are in government, capitalism, and anything else that puts the blinders up regarding the booze.

    Q: Define the word ‘deliver’
    A; The part of the body that goes bad from drinking de booze.


  • Eric Olsen

    I don’t schedule cocaine anymore at all, haven’t for years

  • Duke De Mondo

    Well, i guess it’s all down to the personalities involved. How one person reacts on something is completely different to how others might react to that exact same sometihng. In other words, The Duke is a recovering alcoholic, yet all my mates who drank with me, they still continue to indulge, and offer no threat to themselves or others. Should alcohol be criminalised? If The Duke is the sole case study, then yes, ban it immediately! However, when all users are taken into account, it would seem that the matter is rather more complex. Which, of course, is the case for any drug, as far as i’m concerned. Education, as so often stated, should be the crux of the “war on drugs”, a war which should be aimed at addiction, rather than the substance.
    I mean i own 40 bob dylan cds. no one outlaws dylan. What the hell, man.
    Incidentally, i missed that programme last night cause it clashed with the extended version of Derren Brown – Russian Roulette.

  • Douglas Mays

    Duke, right on! War on addiction, not the substance is the answer.

    The peaceloveguidance signature I use came about on March 6, 2004 when a dear friend of mine, LeeAnn, died from a morphine overdose being addicted to various pharmaceuticals. May her light provide guidance to life, not death or destruction that addiction can cause.

    peaceloveguidance and strength to those addicts trying to beat the situation.

    plg to all!

  • Shark

    Duke, no offense, but ownin’ 60 Bob Zimmerman CDs is a sure sign of brain damage, and it sounds like it might be from past alcohol use.

    ))))~I’m Joking, Justene~((((

    Anyway, Duke, seriously: congrats on stayin’ sober; it’s a tough thing to do — and I’ll bet that everyone who reads this post has at least one alcoholic as friend and/or family.

    It’s some nasty, tragic ubiquitous shit.

  • Eric Olsen

    I stopped drinking for about 8 years between ’89 and ’97, and it was a totally necessary thing to do. Although I drank my way through the ’80s, I had the idea it was a really bad habit rather than alcoholism – when I listened to my compatriots at AA (they make you go when you get 2 DUIs in 16 months) I could relate to some of what they said but a lot didn’t click, also.

    When I very cautiously started having the occasional drink after 8 years, I didn’t have the old feelings of “well now you’ve started, you might as well keep the hell going.” A little was just fine.

    Other than my bachelor party and a night out in Chicago, I am very moderate and it seems to be fine. I just don’t want more than two, so I guess it’s okay.

  • Douglas Mays

    Eric, very good, you are not one with addict tendencies. The user vs. addict is a whole different ballpark. For whatever yet to be explained reason some people are wired to let some substance get ahold of them and take it to the next level of destruction.

    Ugh, I won’t get into it, too personal of a subject. Wife and I have been through some hell in conquering addiction. Uh, a white, powdery danger dust that can be smoked is the problem here. God, I hate the person I become on that shit. Ask yourself that. Do you like the person you are under the influence of chosen substance?

    Christ! What were we thinking? Do a drug that shrinks your dick, takes all your possesions and money, makes your heart leap out of your chest, makes you think ‘ah, fuck it’ about everything and is named after a part of your butt!!!!!

    Glad we are getting a grip. Oh, the AA, NA, CA principles seem to be applicable to facets of life beyond addict. Bill W. sure figured something out.

    peaceloveguidance and strength to beating the situation

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Douglas, best to you as well!

  • Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    Eric, to echo Doug’s sentiments, kudos on the control. It’s something i lost round about my 14th birthday, and something i’ll never regain with regards that there substance. But the miracle of it all is that, without even noticing, the desire to DO it got up and sodded the hell off. Thing is, if i took one now, i’m pretty sure i wouldn’t be home tomorow.
    Which is, as they say, the difference between a heavy drinker and an alcoholic. Also, the guilt.
    Anyhow, shit, man. Basically, far as The Duke can tell, for someone with a problem controlling the ale to go ahead and control it, well that takes a certain special something, and kudos to you Mr O

    And Doug, congrats to you and the wife.

    And shark, that right there is slander and i will be requesting that it be stricken from the record. 😉 (jk)

  • Douglas Mays

    Duke, Eric, thank you for the conscious energy. The aspect of guilt was brought up also. One thing I discovered are elements that drive the next. The formula looks like this: guilt = secrets = resentments = fear = anger. One element driving the other. What a viscious pattern that must be broken to achieve serenity, as the book goes.

    Back to the original point, it is addiction that must be treated, not the outlawing of substance. Everything on the planet could be outlawed otherwise…Basically, don’t let anything get a grip on you and stear you off course!


  • Douglas Mays

    Oh, let me add an element to the above (comment #19) equation. Shame.

    shame = guilt = secrets = resentment = fear = anger

    Quite an ugly cycle for the addict. Strength to all.


  • Douglas Mays

    Eric, (re: comment 15) I just finally learned something at a meeting this morning. You see, I never really defined myself as a hardcore addict because I don’t really have cravings or the desire to do whatever every moment. Wife sure does. We are in it together…

    But today, a guy shared and spoke of how pointless it was in his mind to just have a drink. Got to keep goin’, as desribed in your former days, Eric.

    I am the same way. If I’m gonna do something I want to peg the meters! Man, sure thing, I have seen Mt. Rainier melt into technicolor (LSD), broken enuf turntables trying to play records on Quaaludes, etc… I do keep my puke-o-meter turned on though, it doesn’t work to well on opiates though. I wait to puke, then it feels great. Addict? You betcha…

    Anyway, that is a sign of an addict. I admit that. Face the music Dougie…


  • Eric Olsen

    you guys have done a lot of serious thinking and know yourselves well – nothing but admiration to you. Re the habit vs addiction thing: I had no idea where I was and all through the 8 years I assumed I would never drink again – I think that’s part of what purged my system, I wasn’t sitting around counting the days.

    One night after I had met Dawn and finally had someone I felt very comfortable around, felt like myself, I had some sake with a Japanese dinner and a little was very pleasant – none of the past associations came flooding back, and with a couple of exceptions that showed me I DO have to remain ever vigilant and take nothing for granted, I seem to have a “normal” relationship with alcohol again.

    But again, I know this wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t completely quit for a long time, which allowed the old habits and patterns to cycle out of my system. Or something like that anyway.

  • Douglas Mays

    Eric, thank you for sharing. It gives hope that we all make it through the phases of life without submitting.

    To the hardcore addict as we know it, life can be one long and costly indignity. We aren’t in that boat, thank Jah. But then again, if a loved one is in that boat the indignity still stands as a substance always stands above you.

    Oh geez, philosophy! Anyway, good for you Eric! “keep it clean” -Billy Mays (the guy who did all those OxyClean infomercials. The worlds greatest pitchman). Oh yeah, ‘focus’ is an important statement also…


  • Douglas Mays

    Oh yeah, I forgot this one. Go to and click on the ‘Rats On Cocaine’ series. It is a mind blower. So are all the other cartoon choices…