Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Darrow on Prohibition (Vol. 48)
The loyal Vice Squad reader demands, "More about Prohibition from
Clarence Darrow 's autobiography, The Story of My Life!"
So without further ado....
Darrow recounts the disingenuous approach to Prohibition that was taken
during World War I, during which a temporary prohibition was enacted
under the guise of saving food (grain) for the war effort. Darrow believes
that the supporters of this measure were more motivated by an interest
in stopping drinking than in winning the war.
A Constitutional Amendment was needed for the federal government to
have the power to regulate alcohol. But that was all that was "needed",
Darrow notes: the amendment could simply have given the Federal
government that power (without specifying the nature of the regulation),
and then Congress could have voted for national prohibition. But instead,
the dry forces enshrined the policy itself, prohibition, into the
Constitution, "intending thereby to make it impossible ever to permit
the sale of intoxicating liquor in the United States." As for the 18th
Amendment and its implementing legislation, the Volstead Act,
"If senators and representatives had voted as they drank, no such
legislation would ever have disgraced America."
"A small minority cannot nullify a law, but where a statute is considered
tyrannical and unjust it always meets with protest. Refusal to be bound
is such a protest. If protest is so great as to interfere with its
enforcement by ordinary methods, it is plain that it has no place in the
law in the land."
"Men were as sure that it was just to condemn heresy and witchcraft
by death as their lineal descendants are sure of the righteousness of
spreading poison broadcast to-day in the interest of the 'Noble
Experiment' of prohibition."