In 1924, H.L. Mencken wrote of Prohibition:
Five years of Prohibition have had, at least, this one benign effect: they have completely disposed of all the favourite arguments of the Prohibitionists. None of the great boons and usufructs that were to follow the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment has come to pass. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic, but more. There is not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished.
Prohibition was and is a terrible idea. Fortunately Americans woke up and pushed its repeal.
We are in the midst of another disastrous experiment, called the War on Drugs. The effects of the War on Drugs are similar to the effects of Prohibition as described by Mencken. It once again time for Americans to wake up and push for the repeal of this disaster.
Theoretically it should be easier to end the Drug War then it was to end Prohibition. Prohibition was constitutional, the Drug War is not. Since no constitutional amendment was ever passed to allow the Federal government to make certain drugs illegal, the Federal government has no authority to do so.
Unfortunately, the largely corrupt, power seeking individuals who are passed off as political leaders today really have no respect for the Constitution. Most of today's politicians only care about gaining more power for themselves and the special interests they represent. To them the Constitution is merely a prop to be displayed when it suits their purposes. When the Constitution hinders their desires they conveniently interpret it to meet their needs or they simply ignore it.
Ultimately, we the people are at fault because we allow this to continue. We allow ourselves to be fooled by these flimflam artists called politicians. We continue to vote for them because they promise to use force (government) to give us something we want, while we ignore doing so gives them the power to take things away from us.
We are at fault because far too many of us do not understand the foundations of the American idea. Far too many of us do not understand what the Declaration and the Constitution mean. Too many falsely believe that the government gives us rights, when in fact we are all endowed with our rights. Rights that no government can take away.
Here are some Prohibition Fast Facts from ProhibitionRepeal.com
- So convinced were they that alcohol was the cause of virtually all crime that, on the eve of Prohibition (1920-1933), some towns actually sold their jails.
- During Prohibition, temperance activists hired a scholar to rewrite the Bible by removing all references to alcohol beverage.
- The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) strongly supported Prohibition and its strict enforcement.
- Because the temperance movement taught that alcohol was a poison, supporters insisted that school books never mention the contradictory fact that alcohol was commonly prescribed by physicians for medicinal and health purposes.
- Prohibitionists often advocated strong measures against those who did not comply with Prohibition. One suggested that the government distribute poisoned alcohol beverages through bootleggers (sellers of illegal alcohol) and acknowledged that several hundred thousand Americans would die as a result, but thought the cost well worth the enforcement of Prohibition. Others suggested that those who drank should be:
- hung by the tongue beneath an airplane and flown over the country
- exiled to concentration camps in the Aleutian Islands
- excluded from any and all churches
- forbidden to marry
- placed in bottle-shaped cages in public squares
- forced to swallow two ounces of caster oil
- executed, as well as their progeny to the fourth generation
- A major prohibitionist group, the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) taught as "scientific fact" that the majority of beer drinkers die from dropsie (edema or swelling).
- Prohibition agents routinely broke the law themselves. They shot innocent people and regularly destroyed citizens' vehicles, homes, businesses, and other valuable property. They even illegally sank a large Canadian ship.
- "Bathtub gin" got its name from the fact that alcohol, glycerine and juniper juice was mixed in bottles or jugs too tall to be filled with water from a sink tap so they were commonly filled under a bathtub tap.
- The speakeasy got its name because one had to whisper a code word or name through a slot in a locked door to gain admittance.
- Prohibition led to widespread disrespect for law. New York City alone had about thirty thousand (yes, 30,000) speakeasies. And even public leaders flaunted their disregard for the law. They included the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, who owned and operated an illegal still.
- Some desperate and unfortunate people during Prohibition falsely believed that the undrinkable alcohol in antifreeze could be made safe and drinkable by filtering it through a loaf of bread. It couldn't and many were seriously injured or killed as a result.
- In Los Angeles, a jury that had heard a bootlegging case was itself put on trial after it drank the evidence. The jurors argued in their defense that they had simply been sampling the evidence to determine whether or not it contained alcohol, which they determined it did. However, because they consumed the evidence, the defendant charged with bootlegging had to be acquitted.
- When the ship, Washington, was launched, a bottle of water rather than Champagne, was ceremoniously broken across its bow.
- Prohibition led to a boom in the cruise industry. By taking what were advertised as "cruises to nowhere," people could legally consume alcohol as soon as the ship entered international waters where they would typically cruise in circles.
- National Prohibition not only failed to prevent the consumption of alcohol, but led to the extensive production of dangerous unregulated and untaxed alcohol, the development of organized crime, increased violence, and massive political corruption.
- The human body produces its own supply of alcohol naturally on a continuous basis, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Therefore, we always have alcohol in our bodies.
- Prohibition clearly benefited some people. Notorious bootlegger Al Capone made $60,000,000...that's sixty million dollars...per year (untaxed!) while the average industrial worker earned less than $1,000 per year.
- But not everyone benefited. By the time Prohibition was repealed, nearly 800 gangsters in the City of Chicago alone had been killed in bootleg-related shootings. And, of course, thousands of citizens were killed, blinded, or paralyzed as a result of drinking contaminated bootleg alcohol.
- The "Father of Prohibition," Congressman Andrew J. Volstead, was defeated shortly after Prohibition was imposed.
- Repeal occurred at 4:31 p.m. on December 5, 1933, ending 13 years, 10 months, 19 days, 17 hours and 32.5 minutes of Prohibition.
- "What America needs now is a drink" declared President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the end of Prohibition.
- Although Prohibition was repealed 75 years ago, there are still hundreds of dry counties across the United States today.