(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.