12 Bad Effects of Prohibition You Should Know

Should drinking alcohol be illegal? Even asking that question today seems absurd, but only 75 years ago it was illegal to drink alcohol in the United States.

I’m talking about Prohibition, of course, which lasted from 1920 to 1933. It was a massive social experiment that failed and is a lesson for us as we think about other victimless crimes like drugs, gambling, and prostitution.

According to Peter McWilliams in his excellent Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do, there were twelve bad effects of Prohibition:

1. Prohibition created disrespect for the law.

Pullquote: Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes crimes out of things that are not crimes.
Abraham Lincoln

If everyone breaks the law, it is disrespected. Practically everyone broke the law of Prohibition — making everyone criminals. If the law prohibited moderate consumption of something as pleasurable and harmless as alcohol, what else did it prohibit that was good?

Prohibition encouraged people to see the law as whimsical and unimportant, instead of something good and protecting. It did nothing to encourage the respect and obedience the law deserves.

2. Prohibition eroded respect for religion.

Evangelicals were the main force behind Prohibition. They saw alcohol as the “devil’s drink,” hating it so much they explained away their holy book’s favorable references to it (and still do today).

They preached God demanded total abstinence from alcohol. Much like today with homosexuality, conservatives thought drinking was responsible for many of society’s ills. If it could be made illegal, then God would bless America.

But instead of ushering in paradise, Prohibition increased alcohol consumption and immorality, created organized crime and caused massive political corruption. As they so often are, evangelicals were wrong. They made false promises and did far more harm than good. This jaded many people towards religion.

Of course, to many of us, eroding respect for religion was one of the few positive effects of Prohibition…

3. Prohibition created organized crime.

“Prohibition made the gangster not just well paid, but well liked,” McWilliams said. It took significant organization to bootleg the quantities of alcohol people desired. The result was organized crime, which didn’t differentiate between petty crimes like transporting liquor and real crimes like violence, murder, and theft.

Similarly, organized crime continues today because of the prohibition on gambling, prostitution, and drugs. Where there is demand, there will be supply.

4. Prohibition permanently corrupted law enforcement, the court system, and politics.
Organized crime was huge, and it had a lot of money and influence. Policeman and politicians were bribed and blackmailed:

If mobsters couldn’t buy or successfully threaten someone in a powerful position, they either “wiped them out” or, following more democratic principles, ran a candidate against the incumbent in the next election. They put money behind their candidate, stuffed the ballot box, or leaked some scandal about the incumbent just before the election (or all three). The important thing was winning, and more often than not, someone beholden to organized crime rose to the position of power.

It created a new class of candidates that were open to the highest bidder. Many court cases required payoffs to get a “fair” hearing. In other words, corruption abounded and the people began distrusting the government.

5. Prohibition overburdened police, courts, and the penal system.

You can’t throw everyone in jail — yet with Prohibition, even a small percentage of offenders couldn’t be locked away without overburdening the system. In 1923, for instance, the US District Attorneys spent 44% of their time on Prohibition cases. This takes time away from the real purpose of police and courts: to protect people and their possessions, not enforce a religious sect’s morality.

6. Prohibition harmed people financially, emotionally, and morally.

Hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs because of Prohibition. People in the alcohol business had two options: to find lower-paying work or become criminals (that is, staying in their profession). Because of the rhetoric evangelicals were spouting, it was also hard to find a decent job coming from the “devil’s work.” This encouraged people to break the law just to support their families.

7. Prohibition caused physical harm.

Pullquote: Marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could.
William F. Buckley, Jr.

Because alcohol was illegal, its purity was not regulated. While fruit, vegetable, and grain alcohol is usually safe, alcohol made from wood is not — but it is difficult to tell the difference until too late. Over 10,000 people died during Prohibition from drinking wood alcohol. Others who were not killed went permanently blind or had severe organ damage.

The same happens today with illegal drugs — most overdoses are accidental, a result from not knowing the purity or strength of the drug.

And who knows how many people died because of organized crime, or due to corrupt or overburdened police. When the police spend much of their time arresting and investigating crimes that cause no harm to others, the crimes that do cause harm increase and real criminals are more likely to go free.

8. Prohibition changed the drinking habits of our country — for the worse.

Pullquote: Prohibition is better than no liquor at all.
Will Rogers

Instead of going out to drink, people began drinking mostly at home. When they did go out to drink, it was often to get drunk — you couldn’t been seen with a bottle, so it was best to finish it. Hard liquor became popular because it was more concentrated and thus cheaper to smuggle. To make hard liquor more palatable, cocktails were created.

Ironically, Prohibition also increased the amount people drank. Drinking has never again returned to pre-Prohibition levels.

9. Prohibition made cigarette smoking a national habit.

Cigarettes were also prohibited in many states, which seemed to make them irresistible. By 1930, cigarettes were legal everywhere and consumption nearly tripled. Smoking became fashionable and a sign of rebellion. It was also far more harmful and addictive than alcohol.

10. Prohibition prevented the treatment of drinking problems.

It’s a lot harder to say you have a problem when it could land you in jail. Legally, you were either sober or a criminal — both occasional drinkers and drunks were lumped into the same category. You couldn’t go to your pastor or counselor for help — you might end up in jail.

11. Prohibition caused “immorality.”

Evangelicals were expecting a New Jerusalem of Sobriety, but what they got was an explosion of immorality. Men and women began drinking together — they were partners in crime, and they became partners in bed. Unmarried sexual activity increased and the decade became known as the “roaring 20′s.”

12. Prohibition was phenomenally expensive.

Some estimate the total cost was about a billion dollars in a time when a Ford factory worker made $5 a day. The government also lost a significant amount of tax revenue because alcohol sales went underground. This made the price of alcohol artificially inflated, and people spent a lot for a little liquor.

* * *

Prohibition was a massively failed attempt at legislating morality. The government’s role is to protect citizens and their property — not legislate what people are allowed to do for recreation, who they can love, or what kind of sex they can have.

We spend billions of dollars a year on “the war on drugs” and have only defeat to show for it. Meanwhile, the police and courts are tied up with people whose only crime was enjoying or selling a recreational drug. They were hurting no one, except possibly themselves. And what business of the government’s is that?

[digg=http://digg.com/political_opinion/12_Bad_Effects_of_Prohibition_You_Should_Know]“It is time we realized,” said Sam Harris, that “crimes without victims are like debts without creditors.” As we think about the role of government in victimless “crimes” like gambling, prostitution, drugs, pre-martial sex, and homosexual marriage, let us remember the failure of Prohibition.

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  • vorjack

    “7. Prohibition caused physical harm.”

    Here’s an odd one: Jake Leg.

  • reckoner71


    I would argue that in states where abortion is illegal (that life begins at conception), that one should be legally entitled to imbibe alcohol 20 years, 3 months after exiting the womb.

  • http://inevitableconflict.blogspot.com DB

    2. Prohibition eroded respect for religion.

    I am not sure that was so bad ;-)

    @reckoner71 – People in those states should also be allowed to claim babies in the womb on their taxes if they are pregnant in Dec and carry into the next year!

  • Valis

    …pre-martial sex

    I prefer fighting *before* sex, makeup-sex is the best ;-)

  • Confused

    Is “victimless crimes” a euphemism? Given alcohol kills more people in my country than cancer, I’m a bit skeptical about that term.

    Of course, it’s nothing compared to motorcars, but at least use of a motorcar is officially regulated.

    • James

      There is no need to be confused;Confused ! To begin with a victimless crime is just that a victimless crime.Everyday all over the world there are people who drink moderatly and responcibly thus no one is hurt or killed by these sort of alchohol users.Being that it is possible to use alchohol in a manner that victimises no one,it is eronious then to say that alcohol kills more people than this or that.Alcohol,or alcohol use does not harm anyone. The” abuse ”of alcohol however can indeed lead to death and disease,thus in reality so called victims of alcohol use are not victims of that drug,they are victims of irrisponcible and or pathological human behavior.I do not know of anyone who has ever been harmed by an individual who while in a appropiate setting drank in a truly responcible manner.In what way are you victimised if I, while in my own home enjoy a few beers ? The answer to that is that you are not harmed at all if I drink in a responcible manner.At this point let me point out that the US is incarcerating more people per capita than even so called oppresive totalitarian regiems.The reason being of course that greedy power hungary poloticians and private prison contractors are seeking both monatary and political gains admist a culture which features people like Confused who do not understand that there are indeed” victimless crimes”.I hope that I do not need to point out that the reason we live in a civilized manner abiding by ceartain laws is not so that individual rights might be deminished ,but rather that our individual rights may be enhanced.

      If we ban ,over control and regulate every substance or object which has potential to be abused or used in a harmfull manner we will soon find ourselves living in a sterile world with little reason to live.It isimpossible to be free if you are forbidden by law to take risks.Life can not be lived fully in the absence of risk.It has been said correctly that it is life that kills us ! A life devoid of risk is mere existance, not life.

      Confused’your numbers leave room for debate.I believe that alcohol abuse kills some 100,000 persons per year on average while automobile accidents claim on average about 45000 lives yearly.I am not sure about cancer deaths but I do know that the CDC reports that tobacco use ,”or more correctly abuse” claims about 400000 lives per year.Finaly,everyone needs to hear the numbers as to the number of lives lost to the use of illegal drugs.The CDC reports that on average illegal drugs kill about 20000 people a year.Remember now that that number includes the people who are killed by police during drug arrests and raids.Think about those numbers for a moment.Compare 20000 deaths to 45000 for car wreaks,100000 for alcohol abuse and 400000 for tobacco abuse.Despite the dangers associated with alcohol abuse we as a nation decided that it was better deal with those dangers than to tolerate the harms caused by prohibition.Even now with a 10000 deaths a year linked to alcohol abuse few amongst us would seriously consider prohibition to be a viable means of dealing with alcohol ! As for tobacco most of us consider the risks associated with tobacco use to be a matter that each individual must deal with.And we ceartainly do not prosecute tobacco dealers like we do the drug dealers,even with 400000 death a year associated with tobacco. Reason dictates that if 20000 deaths a year justifies a war on drugs,”and the discarding of constitutionaly garunteed rights” than surly we should wage a similar war against automobile wreaks,”or at least speeders”,tobacco,and alcohol .The fact of the matter is however that the war on drugs is not based upon sound reason anymore than a war on alcohol, car accidents or tobacco would be.Litteraly millions of lives are being destroyed not because of personal drug use,nor even abuse but instead those lives are being destroyed by irrational archaic,even criminal drug laws.No one’s life is destroyed by moderate drug use ,nor in most cases are peoples lives destroyed by heavy drug use.Instead lives are destroyed by leangthy prison sentences and the accompaning loss of freinds,family self esteem and sense of belonging to scociety.

      We Americans would do well to petition the government to end the drug war and then use the funds made available to improve highway saftey,preform cancer reasearch and pay the healthcare expences of several thousand impoverished youngsters.Speeking of children ,over three thousand children are missing in Florida alone.We should be fighting a war against the bastards who would harm our children,not persons who simply want to alter their mood by the use of natural herbs,plants or the substances derived from those herbs and plants ! Now that is just common sense,nothing to be confused about.

  • http://arkonbey.blogspot.com arkonbey

    a post just in time for St. Patrick’s Day ;-)

  • Elemenope

    The funny part is that nearly everyone recognizes the damage that alcohol prohibition did to all of those areas you describe.

    But point out that drug prohibition is currently doing exactly the same thing, and watch many of those people’s heads spin around like a top spitting pea-soup puke everywhere.

    And alcohol is objectively much worse for you than many of those. The logical tension just kills me.

    • http://wmdkitty.livejournal.com WMDKitty

      Because Cannabis is just -so- dangerous, doncha know!

  • Confused

    Also, the assertion that prohibition made people drink more is a little bit disingenuous; the UK never had prohibition, and while it may partially explain some differences between our drinking cultures (Americans tend to drink fast and then pass out, while Brits tend to drink slowly, but solidly and over a long period of time) you can’t really say that the UK doesn’t also have a major problem with alcohol abuse.

  • http://www.moneylaunchmykid.com Bill

    Boy, I have been singing this tune since the mid 90s. The government will NEVER stop the use of drugs. Legalize them, legislate them and tax them for prevention and cure.

  • http://www.adamus.nl Adamus

    Responsible drinking is something parents should teach their children. I’m grateful for my father for giving me, when I was 14 and very curious about alcoholic beverages, a ridiculously potent dark ale which made me so violently sick I was put off beer until I was 19.

    It’s not the government’s role to regulate what we can and can’t do in our spare time. Like with alcohol, it’s a parent’s duty to teach children about the risks of drugs, gambling and sex. The government should stay the hell out of it.

    Unfortunately, even here in the Netherlands where a lot of this stuff is semi-legal, the government is moving into the exact opposite direction: more regulation, stricter laws, stricter enforcement. It’s a pathway to certain failure.

  • mirshafie

    Great summary of how drug prohibition has always failed.

    I would also like to point out that alcohol prohibition has been around for a long time in the middle east. Islam prohibited alcohol, in a time when cannabis and opium were widely used. What reasons can there be for that?

    It could be that alcohol was relatively new on the market, and it was easy to point at it and call it devil’s drink, whereas opium and cannabis were more accepted parts of the culture and everyone knew that you could use these drugs responsibly.

    It could also be that alcohol is one of those drugs that may actually cause a lot of harm to others than just the drinker. Opioids, cannabis, and many synthetic drugs are not directly related to violent crime, but there is a strong correlation between alcohol consumption and violence.

    Alcohol is one of the worst drugs with regard to violence, accidents, personal health, mental health and dependence. I don’t think prohibition works for any drug, but it is very strange that alcohol should be legal when psychedelics, cannabis, ecstasy and the like can get you into prison.

  • Barry

    I finally found a post where I agree 100% with you Daniel, lol.

    As an evangelical I know I’m in the minority, and I use almost all the exact same arguments listed above and I get looks like I’m crazy.

    I’ve never used illegal drugs and my alcohol experience is very light weight compared to most I know. But I’ve come to a few conclusions:

    1. If as believers we are supposed to follow the Bible, then there are as many positive as negative mentions of alcohol in the Bible.

    2. Jesus didn’t preach against it, and wasn’t involved in politics either, the main way we try to regulate such activities.

    3. The history of the Church has not been prohibitionist until the last 150 years. As C.S. Lewis pointed out Islam is the faith of Prohibition, not Christianity.

    My only concern would be the dangers of some drugs such as meth, where the negative impact is so great. The pot heads I know are at worst lazy, but some of the people I know that do meth, are destroying their bodies and can become very irrational. The money made off of taxing drugs would probably pay for the treatments though.

    For those that would disagree, Daniel’s points have been illustrated very well in the last few weeks with the escalation of violence in Mexico by the drug cartels.

  • http://www.vidlord.com VidLord

    Interesting stuff. “both occasional drinkers and drunks were lumped into the same category” kinda reminds me how a murderer is lumped into the same category as a loving, productive atheist- both are condemned to hell.

  • http://thebeattitude.com theBEattitude

    Humans are funny. The more someone tells us not to do something, the more we want to do it. By nature people get a thrill out of “getting away” with something.

    People use drugs and alcohol just like religion. It helps them escape from reality.

  • http://progressatallcost.blogspot.com/ markbey

    “People use drugs and alcohol just like religion. It helps them escape from reality.”

    mark: I agree although I dont know about legalizing cocain and other hard drugs. Although I am of the opinion that if they made liquor illegal on friday by monday morning folks would have homade brew available.

    Liquor isnt very hard to make and people have proved in most cultures that I know that they will get drunk/f#cked up/intoxicated/blasted or whatever name you want to call it.

  • Rynoos

    @ daniel,
    So do you really believe there are no victims with gambling, prostitution and drugs?

  • claidheamh mor

    In my wine-tasting classes in 1992, there were wine producers in California’s Sonoma and Napa Valleys who remembered the devastating effects of Prohibition’s broad brush on their crops and livelihood.

  • John C

    Prohibition is a lot like religion. It attempts to address an internal matter by an external solution, and so it inevitably fails. This is the heart of Jesus’ many faults and struggles with the “religious” leaders of the day. This is why Jesus called them “white washed tombs” cuz they looked good on the outside, but inside they were dead. He knew where they were leading the people would only cause more pain, more oppression.

    Only when the solution springs from within one’s own being is true liberty experienced. It’s a new nature within (His) that brings the liberating freedom and transforms us into the “Himself” kind.

    Religion…its a terrible bondage. But Christ IN you, the hope of glory is what its all about. Its an inside job.

  • http://digitaldame.wordpress.com Digital Dame

    I disagree that prostitution is a victimless crime, but that’s probably better suited to a separate post entirely.

  • flood

    What did Catholics use during their weird ceremonies when prohibition was in effect?

    I know the priests have super-powers and can make the actual, real blood of their christ, but it has to start off as wine, doesn’t it?

  • RobotzAreAwesome

    Oh well, at least we still have Salvia!

  • John C

    All outward human activity and behavior has an inner origin. A man (or woman) will always behave like the person they think they are. This begs the question, who do you think you are?

    When we act apart from our true origin and nature in God, we act contrary to our true nature and this brings about confusion and bondage to Self which was inherited from Adam in the fall. Ironically, this same Self was crucified with Christ and is now dead. So, when we act our of a “dead” humanity we only get a “dead” life.

    Christ offers us a new and resurrected life, His. Why would we want to live from a dead thing when we can identify with a living…life?

    The true offer & message of Christ is not understood. When someone “gets it” they are liberated from an old, dead way of living and their life becomes…alive in Him.

    Life…thats the offer.

  • Darkmatter

    They are a shadow of things to come. When you are in heaven, you got to drink the real blood of Jesus and get drunk with the Spirit.

    Remember Jesus showed doubting Thomas His pierced wound with His newly ressurrected bodily appearance. Guess that is where you suck and drink the real blood and get drunk with the Holy Spirit. You get to eat his body as well, on earth is bread.

    Maybe there are fishes to eat from the river of life and fruits from the tree of life. If you hate raw food, you can prepare lambchop, meat comes for the ressurrected Lamb of God with tongues of fire.

    Guess it’s not that bad in heaven.

  • Brian

    I lived in Colombia most of my life, and I have seen and lived many horrible consequences of the drug trafficking (drug lord wars, kidnapping, killing, unemployment, bad economy, corruption, deterioration of the society at many levels, guerrilla war increase, poor people getting poorer, etc). Many of us have left for the sake of our children.

    US sends to Colombia million of dollars a year for the war on drugs, most of it in military help. I can tell you, none of the problems have diminished. Drug production has even increased. The president has made a few positives changes, but the bottom line is still there. We are paying a high social price. The war on drugs fails.

    I have seen enough programs in National Geographic about drugs and their effect on users that really breaks my heart thinking on all the people on both sides of the equation that are suffering.

    As an atheist-humanist with young children I am not sure where to stand in this issue. I have seen that making that stuff illegal does not make it disappear, it worsens everything.

    I wonder what the creationists have to say about God making the plants that produce drugs. Why did He make them? Didn’t he foresee that we were going to abuse it?

  • Darkmatter

    “I wonder what the creationists have to say about God making the plants that produce drugs. Why did He make them? Didn’t he foresee that we were going to abuse it?”

    Christian evengelical leaders blame it on the original sin. Adam and Eve eat of the tree of knowing what is good and evil and God no and you and any decendants have to die because the become like God.

    Before that amybe as they argue, humans are immune to these evil drugs, or certain plants evolved to be dangerous to humans consumption, because of the original curse, their arguments.

  • Also…

    The one single economic rule that everyone forgets that can go a long way to make decisions is:

    Focus on incentives, not intentions.

    You can intend something good to happen through government action, but it’s guaranteed to fail if the incentives are not aligned.

  • Darkmatter

    “Of course I’m also an atheist. The idea that I don’t believe in god in order to be a lying criminal is in complete contrast to how I live my life. How do believers account for people like me?”

    Of your kind and for the sake of humanity, has a moral right to demand christianity, you humans who use moral to degrade non believers to the level of brute beasts, that they repent to their God and apologize to the world, for they blatantly of their sinful nature use their bible for their own gain.

    Has not their God in their Book says that God cause the sun to rise on the righteous and unrighteous? They behave as if they are God, but are gorvern by unreasonable fear of …

    • Logan

      Were you having a stroke when you posted this?

  • cooledskin

    “[Drinking,] drugs, gambling, and prostitution.”

    …Those all have the POSSIBILITY of being victimless crimes, but at the moment they AREN’T victimless crimes. Most of them involve collateral damage inflicted on the families of those who become addicted (prostitution, par contre, is a desperate step that often leaves women at the mercy of violent and ruthless pimps). And yeah, addiction is different than simply partaking in them casually, but the problem is that it’s hard to make laws about addiction. I understand where the people who wanted to outlaw prohibition were coming from. After all, most men who beat their wives do so drunk.

    I’m just saying that you shouldn’t dismiss these with a wave of the hand, because they are social ills for more reasons than Christian/religious puritanism, and that they are most certainly NOT victimless.

  • Maestro

    Yeah, I agree with a lot of other people here.

    As someone in the health profession, I continually say things like “I wish alcohol and smoking could be made illegal”, knowing full well that things like this have been tried, and have failed, and will continue to fail, because they’re so ubiquitous and people think they’re a right not a privilege.

    As for other drugs, they are not “victimless” at all. Families are torn apart, lives are ruined, an entire gang culture hangs on the financial security of drug-peddling, leading to other crimes like robbery and murder. Not to mention the on-going health effects, even of “harmless” drugs like marijuana. So, they should never be legal, and I cheer every time I hear about drug busts and arrests. I know the fight will never be over, but small victories are nice.

    As for pre-marital sex, homosexuality and so on … well yeah. I think we can all agree these really are victimless. I mean, as long as people are responsible and reasonable about them, these things really have no basis for being banned …

    Anyway, there’s my 2 1/2 cents.

  • http://meatofthematter.wordpress.com/ Jim

    I’m so glad you have read this book Daniel! It’s been one of my favorites for years. I was mildly acquainted with Peter McWilliams, and the story of his death (which few people know) is quite ironic in light of this book.

    Peter had AIDS, and needed to use marijuana to help him with the nausea caused by his medication. DEA agents raided his home when they learned of this, and told him they would take away his home if he tested positive on a drug test, which they could randomly subject him to.

    So, Peter stopped smoking pot, and his medicine caused him to choke to death on his own vomit.

    I tried to obtain the movie rights to his story about 10 years ago, but another group purchased them, and has done nothing with it. :(

  • http://www.theangryphilistine.wordpress.com The Angry Philistine

    Prohibition is just another method used to tame the infidels. It makes me angry. I live in Utah the closest state in the nation to retaining prohibition. We have to buy our liquor at state stores, buy lower alcohol beer at the supermarket and pay fees to go to a club.

    Recently our state house passed a law repealing mandatory club fees and it is expected to pass the sentate, the trade off? They will now scan your drivers license at the door and bounce it off the DMV data base, who know what will happen with those records…. Oh and in tandem with this their were some people upset because they could see alcohol when they went into a restraunt so now restraunts have to hide their alcohol from view and must make drinks behind a wall.

    My state is repugnant in so many ways if not the natural beauty of it I would have left long ago.

  • Matthew Angle

    You should mention how far back it set the craftbrew scene in America. It wasn’t until the 1970s-1980s that homebrewing finally took off and then even then good beer wasn’t being made in America until the 90s. Think about the varieties of American beer that were lost because of prohibition. It makes me want to cry thinking that Bud has been the definitive “American Beer”.

    The only good I can see coming out of this is that American craftbrewing has exploded and we now have a lot more craftbrewers than almost any other country in the world. Prohibition created a vacuum that has been filled with some really great American beer companies (Dogfish Head, Rouge, even Sam Adams and about 1,400 other local and craft breweries). If prohibition hadn’t happened our beer market might have been dominated by bigger companies that had been established before prohibition.

  • faemorpheus

    The concept of alcoholism as a disease also came out of prohibition. The government had been calling alcohol the devils drink…..and when prohibition wasn’t going so well (organized crime and such) they needed a way to remedy it. Saying that alcoholism was a disease that only some people got was that way for them. As small as disease vs disorder may seem….the institution of AA has been using it ever since. Much to (I think) our detriment. You don’t have the power to control the disease, you have to give yourself over to a “higher power”. There are much better behavioral/cognitive systems of therapy but AA has such a DAMN hold….

    I don’t mean any offense to anyone who has gotten help from AA, I do understand that alcoholism is a problem. I just don’t like AA. Seems to me like it breeds codependency. I know I pretty much grew up around those groups most of my life living with an alcoholic mother.

    Anyways….Prohibition=bad. Alcoholism=Disorder not disease

  • http://dummiesoftheyear.com Mel Ancholy

    #2 for the most part is true but I am a forever changed man since I journeyed out of the US. I am a evangelical who has and will be a missionary in Europe again soon. I drink wine quite often.

    Leaving religion out of it I would say getting wasted is bad for all sorts of reasons. People have bad judgement which can lead to wreckless driving, running one’s mouth, fighting, verbally and physically abusing one’s family.

    The key is to enjoy alcohol in moderation. I drink wine for taste.

    Now bringing religion into it I would say to my evangelical family that it is time to wake up and read about our freedom we have in Christ. Also Christ more than likely drank wine (can’t recall and too lazy to find out if he did at the moment). Evangelicals from Europe drink wine in moderation. God is not going to get us if we drink a glass of wine for dinner or even lunch for that matter ;)

    I will leave you with a quote from the movie Braveheart, Freeeeedom!”

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    There’s been a lot said about prohibition here. But when a left-wing rag [/sarcasm] such as the all-free-market-all-the-time Economist (from whom this editorial is cribbed) reccomends legalizing drugs as the “least-bad alternative” it should give one pause for thought.

    Just as the approach to terrorism should be multifaceted, compounding foreign policy and crime measures rather than simplisticly declaring “war” upon it, the approach to drugs and the terrible damage of addictions should be primarily a health policy problem rather than a police problem.

    Of course, in some places that might make things worse, at least until they adopt some model of single-payer health care …

  • bigjohn756

    It seems to me that all religiously motivated laws remove or restrict individual rights. Prohibition, Prop 8, war on drugs and blue laws are all examples. If only the religious could contain their hubris then we would all benefit. Unfortunately, I hold little hope for that since religious people have a desperate need to continually reinforce their faith in any way that they can. Forcing others to conform to religious ideas is one way to do that.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    For some reason, John, this doesn’t surprise me. Your writing as a psychedelic feel to me… ;)

    Like I said in another thread, many people turn to Jesus as a replacement addiction. For people who need that to break a bad addiction, then I’m happy they can find a pleasant replacement. Going to church a few times a week, reading a boring old book, and giving 10% of your income to the church is a small price to pay. I know, I know, that’s evil religion, not letting Jesus into your heart…

  • zach

    It’s quite interesting actually- a lot of “Born again” (that’s the term for becoming christian later aka 20s+ right?) christians I’ve met are ex-druggies.

  • Ty

    Reason 13:

    Really good tequila.

    Nuff said.

  • http://www.illogicalstrategy.com Stephen Webb

    No, what prohibition did was bring all this to the surface.
    Don’t ever presume that rules and laws and change create people’s selfishness and disrespect and honor for authority.
    If that were the case then just let your kids do whatever they want. And I’m not talking about your 3 year old. Let you 16 year old do whatever they way. I’d hate for your rules “morality” to interfere with “rights” and “feelings.” If you create rules then it could lead to so many other things.

    The curfew created: lack of respect for parents, lying, lack of respect for police, rebellion in general, excuses, lack of communication between parents and kids, and so much more.
    Let’s just get rid of the curfew.

    Prohibition showed the true color of the people – selfishness, greed, lack of respect. It didn’t create this crap.

    Horribly thought out post.

  • anna

    thanks, this is really helpful research for my history coursework. :-)

  • joe

    Not all conservatives dislike homos or alcohol. that is just a stereotype. Besides most of the major hate groups don’t belong to any specific party at all.

  • reckoner71

    There are probably dozens of considerations a pregnant woman could challenge the state to uphold. Squirm as they might, I don’t think the courts could wiggle out of it.

    Twenty-one is far too old for a legal drinking age to begin with. If I lived in such a state, I would have my birth certificate rolled back to when God attached my celestial soul to my earthly fertilized egg-body.

  • Mike

    I disagree. The UK had those ridiculous licensing hours for 70 or 80 years and consequently generations of drinkers grew up with the mentality of drinking with one eye on the clock, to get as much down their necks as possible before 11 oclock.

    As an expat who hasn’t lived in the UK for almost 20 years I know it took me a long time to shake off that mindset and I still see it in other Brits.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    A lot of the drinking problems in the UK are generally traced to the imposition of chucking-out time during WWII. As pubs are legally required to close at 11pm (earlier on Sundays), people down their last few pints as quickly as possible, and then all get dropped on the street at once. This leads to (or so the argument goes) a culture of alcohol-fuelled violence.

    In Europe, where bars close when they decide it’s costing them more to stay open than they’re earning, there are far fewer late-night drunken fights. I’ve never really looked into it deep enough to make a correlation / causation judgement, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable.

  • Slurm

    As someone who has never touched the stuff….I agree 100%. You won’t stop people from using drugs/prostitues so make it legal and tax the hell out of it.

  • http://billpost.blogspot.com/ Bill

    OK – the more than one Bill thing is going to get confusing.

    This is a good list, and it points out just how silly drug prohibition (or really prohibition in personal choice issues) is.

    I blogged about drug prohibition myself this week, as it relates to California considering leaglization of marijuana to help deal with revenue shortfalls.


    Some of the stats on this really are staggering.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    It’s not the government’s role to regulate what we can and can’t do in our spare time.

    To an extent, it is. It’s the government’s job to ensure that we don’t engage in harmful behaviour. Personally, I think this is better achieved by legalising these industries and actually regulating them.

    Like with alcohol, it’s a parent’s duty to teach children about the risks of drugs, gambling and sex.

    I agree that that would eb the ideal, but the evidence shows that a great many parents are incapable of talking to their children about sex or drugs, and never think to talk to them about such things as gambling. This being the case, the government (through the medium of public schools) is required to pick up the slack.

  • spence-bob

    Doesn’t alcohol also have a dehydrating effect on the body? In a desert culture, this could be a bit more important of a consideration than it would be in the US …

  • http://billpost.blogspot.com/ Bill

    “To an extent, it is. It’s the government’s job to ensure that we don’t engage in harmful behaviour.”

    This is interesting. I think it depends on your definition of “harmful.” I think the government has a duty to protect us from harmful behavior by others, but we should really be allowed to make choices about engaging in behavior that harms ourselves.

    Smoking is clearly a bad idea. The health risks are enormous, but I think adults should be allowed to make their own decisions about whether to smoke or not.

    On the other hand drunk driving poses a serious risk to people besides the driver, and as such the government should protect us from it.

    I know there are shades of grey in this argument, but I do think there is a distinction between protecting us from “harmful”conduct and protecting us from the harmful conduct of others.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    This is interesting. I think it depends on your definition of “harmful.” I think the government has a duty to protect us from harmful behavior by others, but we should really be allowed to make choices about engaging in behavior that harms ourselves.

    Right. I meant “harmful to others”.

    Smoking is clearly a bad idea. The health risks are enormous, but I think adults should be allowed to make their own decisions about whether to smoke or not.

    Unless, of course, other people are around who will be affected by their smoke. Then society has a stake in their decision.

    I know there are shades of grey in this argument, but I do think there is a distinction between protecting us from “harmful”conduct and protecting us from the harmful conduct of others.

    Agreed and agreed.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Well, unless the murderer has accepted Jeezis as his savour, or confesses his crime to a priest on his deathbed…

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    The victims have more to do with the fact that the acts are illegal than with the acts themselves,and they are better dealt with through regulation than criminalisation.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    I think there will be fewer victims if it were legal. Perhaps a short increase in the beginning, but not in the long run.

    However, whenever there are victims, that should be illegal and we need to do as much as we can to protect people. So I think people should be allowed to use drugs all the drugs they want, but when they drive a car high (like drunk), then they’re arrested.

    Their right to freedom stops where it infringes upon mine or puts me or my property in danger.

  • http://billpost.blogspot.com/ Bill

    There are “victims” inasmuch as addiction is a bad thing. It not only hurts the addict, but it hurts the people who care about the addict as well. (These are some of the shades of grey I was talking about above.)

    Problem is, prohibition doesn’t stop addiction, and in some ways makes getting treatment more difficult. It also takes choices away from adults for whom addiction just isn’t a problem.

    Prohibition just doesn’t help eliminate the “victims” of these behaviors.

  • Sock

    Look at Vegas.

    While it’s party central in America, it’s -the- central place where gambling and prostitution are legal. People come from all over the world to go to Vegas. Thousands of tourists, thousands of strangers to be taken advantage of. However, in spite of this…

    Vegas is still (probably) safe for your average tourist. It’s a fun place to go and have a great time.

    Imagine if the rest of America had such open views on gambling and prostitution. At first, there’d be an explosion of trouble, but after a year or two, it’d settle down and start to look like… what we have right now, except with gambling and prostitution. Vegas would go under, though. It’d be the death of that city.

    Those with a Bible up their arse could avoid gambling and prostitution all they want. No one would be forcing them to sin away the church tithe plate. It would be a victimless crime.

    On the other hand, if you took the cops away, then the criminals would run and regulate gambling and prostitution, and there would be victims all over the place.

  • Rynoos

    So your stance is, that if these acts were all legal…there would not be victims or there would be less victims?

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    There would be fewer victims. Just as accredited and insured banks produce fewer victims than loan sharks.

  • claidheamh mor

    P.S.: My wine instructor, a grower and producer, called the BATF (U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, TObacco and Firearms) “the boys from Booze, Butts and Bullets”.

    He challenged the notion that they had any business regulating wine. I support anyone who takes the next step,and challenges the notion that they have any business regulating liquor – beyond the usual fair business regulations, quality control, underage laws, etc..

    As a drinker, the kind who likes to drink lightly for a buzz, with socializing, and around Irish musicians jamming, I have sat on the non-drinking side at a hockey game, simply because some drinkers are obnoxious assholes. Sad. No law is gonna help those jerks; I’ll take just enough laws to protect me from them.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    Summary: Taking drugs is like having faith — it may be stupid, but it should be legal.


  • Slurm


  • John C

    Your translation skills are lacking a bit there D, but I’m glad to see your humor is still intact.

    A merry heart does good like a medicine…Prov 17:22

  • http://www.elliottcallahan.com/blog Elliott

    I have had more religious experiences on drugs than I ever did in church. If you ever want to feel closer to Christ than you ever have before, John C, I recommend psilocybin mushrooms (j/k, lol).

  • http://thebeattitude.com theBEattitude

    Summary: Taking drugs is like having faith — it causes you to hallucinate things that aren’t real, then you wake up and realize you’re alone.

    Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

  • Sock

    I had a two year addiction to meth. I had meth addicted “friends”. I had a friend who got into meth with me, and became someone else entirely. I knew this guy for six years before the end, and he was my best friend.

    After I found myself in a filthy trailer that was full of graffiti, and guys who had been up for half a week and hadn’t showered… I had a flash of insight that that situation was NOT where I belonged. I quit meth cold turkey that day, almost four or five years ago.

    The friend that I had, he fell on hard times. I took him in. He got clean, had a relapse, and I booted him out. Couple months later, I had a break-in. Some years later, I found out from a mutual friend of ours that he was bragging about how he robbed me.

    So, having first hand experience with the worst that meth can offer… that drug has no purpose being legal. None. It’s effects last forever, and deffinately do leave a shadow on you. I still long for the stuff. It’s not fun.

  • http://www.elliottcallahan.com/blog Elliott

    Not really. It’s the whole argument of “my freedom to swing my fist ends wher your nose begins.”

    Illegalizing alcohol is fundamentally different than illegalizing murder or rape, because the latter are cases where one individual’s actions impinge on the freedoms of another.

    The American Constitution is largely preoccupied with protecting people from each other, not from themselves.

    You might make the argument that alcohol increases the rate of domestic abuse or similar, and thereby reframe the issue as “where my nose begins.”

  • http://www.elliottcallahan.com/blog Elliott

    I agree with you. But legalization would go a long way to making it a victimless crime.

    When women are in a position of power, they aren’t forced into victimhood. If you are recognized by the state as an employee, who files taxes and receives a wage, you can’t be enslaved by a pimp. If you are working in a government regulated establishment, and customers are screened, you won’t be exposed to diseases and abuse/murder.

    This is exactly why prostitution, and the women who do it, are doing so well in Nevada.

  • Sock

    If your pimp was backed by the law, the whole business model would change.

    Legal or not, I wouldn’t visit a prostitute under any circumstances, however… stripping is a victimless crime. And from the folks I know who go to strip joints, there are quite a few strippers who are prostitutes on the side.

    And from those folks I know, it’s all very victimless for them.

  • Sock

    Er, sorry. Stripping isn’t even a crime. >>

  • http://www.elliottcallahan.com/blog Elliott

    The whole point is that pimps as we know them would disappear. If you as a prostitute can go to the government with your grievances, and say “hey, this dude is forcing me to work for no compensation” then pimps will have no power over women.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Prostitution is not legal in Vegas. There are a couple of legal brothels about 20 miles outside the city, in a different county, but in Las Vegas it is, legally, merely tolerated. Next time you’re there have a look at the ubiquitous fliers, and see how many of the girls claim to be “dancers” or “entertainers”, or some such. There’s a reason for that.

  • mirshafie

    Alcohol does dehydrate the body. But I’m not so sure that the Arabian desert was such a bad place to find water 1400 years ago. I’ve got nothing to back that up, but I know that the worlds hot deserts have been expanding quickly over the last thousands of years.

    My guess is that the arabs had much easier access to water back then than they do now.

  • http://www.elliottcallahan.com/blog Elliott

    And glue.

    And my personal favorite, hyperventilating and spinning around in a circle.

  • http://digitaldame.wordpress.com Digital Dame

    It’s not always the pimps hurting the women. The johns can be very abusive, even lethal. There was an article on CNN not long ago about women (apparently suburban housewife types) who did this to make money, and one was severely injured by a “client” who was a doctor. That’s when she got out of it.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    And this is far less common in societies where prostitutes can go to the police without fear of being arrested.

  • http://www.elliottcallahan.com/blog Elliott

    @ wintermute


  • http://blog.elliottcallahan.com Elliott

    What blows my mind is that the US sends planes loaded with herbicide down to South America to kill drug crops.

    Could you imagine the shitstorm that would ensue if the French started dusting tobacco crops in North Carolina with herbicide?

    “Ze tobacco is killing our children, so we bring ze war on drogues to you!”

    Yeah right, we would shoot down their planes and invade the bastards.

  • http://www.vidlord.com VidLord

    “I wonder what the creationists have to say about God making the plants that produce drugs. Why did He make them? Didn’t he foresee that we were going to abuse it?”

    Same argument about dinosaurs – why did he make them? Same argument about him creating the forbidden tree and talking snake, didn’t he foresee that his humans would eat from it?

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    Brian, you definitely need to read this book. I found it very enlightening on these issues. I think you’d enjoy it.

  • Roger

    Ohhh, boy. Here we go with the superstitious woo again.

  • spence-bob

    Your posts make about as much sense as any random page from Dianetics.

    And no, that is not a good thing.

  • LRA

    Ha! The French would never do that. They smoke like freight trains! (But your point is taken!) ;)

  • Roger

    Fuck all that, I want a divine McDonald’s, Sonic, Papa Johns, and Marble Slab Ice Creamery, all to be washed down by rivers of Pepsi-Cola.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Pepsi? Heathen!

    That is the kind of thing that gets you sent to Cola Hell, where you are only allowed to drink Panda-brand cola.

  • cooledskin

    Hmm, just read other comments that cover this same issue. Should have read them first. Oh well. Too late now!

    Anyway, gambling and drinking are totally legal with severe penalties for crossing lines (where alcohol is concerned), but they still rip families apart and put women and children at risk, especially, through domestic violence and also by robbing families of money needed to survive.

    One of things I’ve seen most working with underprivileged families in my area has been parents (often men, but definitely NOT always!) who abuse their children through neglect due to alcoholism, drug abuse, or obsessive gambling. True, those are individuals harming themselves, but by proxy their children are harmed. Yeah, eventually (if they’re caught) we can take their children away and put them in foster care, but that’s a whole new set of problems, and in some cases (like FAS) the damage is already done. I like a martini or two as much as the next girl, but I’d gladly give up drinking forever to prevent those kinds of incidences. Gambling, drugs, and prostitution never appealed to me to begin with. Honestly? Why do we need any of them in the first place?

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    And again, these negative effects are far less noticeable in societies that legalise and regulate these behaviours, rather than criminalising them and brushing them under the carpet.

    If you want to take organised crime out of drugs or prostitution, or you want to ensure that people have adequate defence against being beaten or raped by their customers, or against buying drugs cut with Draino, the evidence clearly shows that legalisation is the path to take.

    Why do you think that alcoholism rarely leads to prostitution, while addiction to other drugs does so more commonly? Why do you think it’s so much easier for someone to admit they have a drinking problem and to seek help than that they’re addicted to meth?

    Illegality exasperates these problems to a great degree. Legalisation is not a panacea for all societies ills, but it does make the problems a lot more manageable.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Anyway, gambling and drinking are totally legal with severe penalties for crossing lines (where alcohol is concerned), but they still rip families apart and put women and children at risk, especially, through domestic violence and also by robbing families of money needed to survive.

    And this is still preferable to the problems that prohibition caused.

  • Roger

    Blasphemer! How dare you! Do ye not know that adulterers, whoremongers and Coca-Cola drinkers shall not inherit eternal life?

  • Mogg

    Actually, I’m pretty sure there’s some good reasons to not drink, or drink in extremely limited amounts, until perhaps mid-twenties. Brain development, especially frontal lobe executive control, is not fully developed until then, maybe even later in some males especially.

    btw@ Vorjack – nice avatar!

  • spence-bob

    Fair enough. I don’t know either way, and to be honest, I’m too lazy to investigate the matter any further. ;)

  • spence-bob

    I had no idea it was even possible to just quit meth cold turkey like that.

    And sorry about your friend.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    Good for you for being able to quit like that. It seems so many people need to replace it with another addiction — like Jesus. Though I think it’s better to be addicted to Jesus than meth (and Jesus only take 10% of your income, meth is probably more)!

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  • RobotzAreAwesome

    haha..good times

  • Sock

    You have to want to quit more than anything else.

    For me, I just quit going to where I could get it. I alienated myself from all the friends that I used to have, cause all of them were users. Without it around me, it was easier to kick.

  • Somegreencat

    It was about a month or so ago I started asking myself about legalizing drugs. When I first started I was telling myself yeah make all of them legal. I then started asking myself what kinds of regulations would be placed on them. At what age would you be able to buy them? How much could you buy of them? Where could you buy them? How would you be tested when caught driving under them? Are there test that will show when someone is actually under the influence, not just when the remains are still in the system? What are some of the idea all of you have for the above questions?

  • http://progressatallcost.blogspot.com/ markbey

    ….. If prohibition hadn’t happened our beer market might have been dominated by bigger companies that had been established before prohibition. ……

    mark….. its all about the redstripe and then corona. greatest beers of all time. but the greatest thing about those beers is that i know for a fact that thier christian god had nothing to do with them. hallelujah. amen.

  • claidheamh mor

    I have a copy of his book “Life 102: What to Do When Your Guru Sues You”. He put all his books online for free near the end of his life. The Lifespring/Insight/John Roger New Age God incarnate machine took down every copy, online, and it’s hard to get the paper one, I hear.

    I followed his blog fro a while near the end of his life too, admiring some, but it got full of rainbows and fairy stuff, so I unsubscribed. But they treated him very nastily.

    I wonder if that’s the “other group” controlling his other stuff.

  • claidheamh mor

    Peter McWilliams’ “Life 102″ is very much his story of being a disciple, and seeing the mal-effects of the faith, losing the faith, and leaving, and the harassment he got for it, BTW.

    The setting was an LGAT, a cult, a spinoff of EST. Many LGAT entries are in Wikipedia, and are the subject of cult studiers and debunkers. Rick Ross and Margaret Singer are among the best.

    Still believing and then leaving the faith.

    Same soup, different ingredients.

  • John C

    I did shrooms and EVERY other kind of psychadelic drug…yes ALL of them. But Jesus gives the best high by far…and it lasts a whole lot longer…in fact it NEVER ends, its an ETERNAL HIGH!

  • John C

    You really need to set your sights a little higher there Rog…there is so much more.

  • http://progressatallcost.blogspot.com/ markbey

    at john c

    …. You really need to set your sights a little higher there Rog…there is so much more. ……..

    mark……. oh my god. wow. this one is priceless. john if there really is so much more why is god hiding it.

    how come your all loving wise and powerful god has provided no proof that can be tested. also is it not possible that the much more you are refering to could be an invisible pink unicorn.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    I think they’re excellent questions, and I’ve not really done enough research to be able to give a decent response. However, I think that treating them similar to alcohol (must be adult, acceptance of diminished capacity while under the influence) would be a good start.

  • E Kent

    Welch’s Grape Juice was developed specifically as a nonalcoholic substitute for church wine.

  • cooledskin

    Bollocks it is. Prohibition did help some things – it drew attention to the issue of domestic violence, which had been considered a man’s right before then. Even now, discussions about battered women are immediately met with “But what about all the men who suffer abuse from their wives, huh? Where are they? Why don’t you talk about them, you sexist!” It’s no long totally conflated with alcoholism, but what little honest aversion there is to it started with prohibition.

    Plus, many of those problems didn’t come out of prohibition itself, but out of people’s arrogant belief that drinking was their “god”-given right. No government could tell them what to do! This is a deeply biased look at prohibition and it’s failings. Had the authorities taken it seriously it probably would have worked out better.

    And for those who say, for example, legalising heroin would reduce problems associated with it: you’re wrong. Heroin and other drugs are deadly addictive, and making them legally available won’t change that… It’ll just make it easier to find. How many people call in sick to work because they’re hung over from a night of partying? Now imagine something ten times more addictive and dangerous to the self and think of what that will do for work productivity.

    This issue was a religious one, but it shouldn’t be. This is a question of what you’re willing to give up to insure safer and more secure lives for people who have no choice in the matter (like young children). They’re the ones who suffer for the availability of drugs, alcohol and gambling. Laws should be tougher for their sake, not some god’s.

    Although, I do think prostitution might actually improve if legalised.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Bollocks it is. Prohibition did help some things – it drew attention to the issue of domestic violence, which had been considered a man’s right before then.

    I find this hard to believe. Having grown up in a country which never went through prohibition, but still came to the conclusion that spousal abuse was wrong, I don’t believe that prohibition was a major influence in making this change in America. Besides, so far as a little Google-fu can indicate, the sea-change in how spousal abuse was seen in the US came in the 1970′s, long after any effects from prohibition would have ended.

    The idea that a man had a “right” to beat his wife was out of fashion long before prohibition started.

    I really don’t know much about the history, though, and would appreciate any corrections you can provide.

    Even now, discussions about battered women are immediately met with “But what about all the men who suffer abuse from their wives, huh? Where are they? Why don’t you talk about them, you sexist!”

    I’m not sure what the point of this comment is. Yes, some men are abused by their wives. Yes, they tend to be a smaller group than women abused by their husbands (principally because the average man is larger and stronger than the average woman), but any serious domestic violence program absolutely should deal with both forms. And a significant number do.

    It’s no long totally conflated with alcoholism, but what little honest aversion there is to it started with prohibition.

    I don’t think it was ever conflated with alcoholism; certainly it wasn’t in Britain.

    Plus, many of those problems didn’t come out of prohibition itself, but out of people’s arrogant belief that drinking was their “god”-given right. No government could tell them what to do! This is a deeply biased look at prohibition and it’s failings. Had the authorities taken it seriously it probably would have worked out better.

    They did take it seriously! Almost half of the resources of the police, the courts and the prisons went to dealing with prohibition. Taking it any more seriously would have meant ignoring all crimes other than drinking.

    True, people thought they had a right to drink, and thus ignored the law. This (as the article points out) weakened respect for the law in general, and increased the power of criminal organisations.

    The problem is that it’s easy and cheap to make alcohol, and there’s really no way that the police can enforce this on an unwilling populace. Were a social movement to convince people, over a generation or two that drinking wasn’t acceptable (as is currently happening with smoking), then anti-drinking laws would be far easier to enforce. As it stands, however, they’re doomed to fail, regardless of how seriously the police take them.

    But honestly: Drinking, of itself, is not harmful. There is no reason why I should not be allowed to have a beer with dinner, or you should not be allowed a martini with friends, so long as it doesn’t lead to harmful behaviour.

    Alcohol-fuelled violence or accidents should absolutely be punished, and alcohol shouldn’t be a mitigating factor; it may be neutral or it might be a contributing factor that increases the punishment, but it should be that destructive or harmful act that is punished, not the 50 innocent and unrelated cases of drinking.

    Driving, for example, is a very dangerous activity that kills thousands of innocents a year; should we make driving itself illegal, in an attempt to reduce these deaths, or merely the dangerous forms of driving (such as while drunk) that make accidents more likely? And bear in mind that a ban on driving would be far more successful than a ban on drinking, as very few people are capable of producing their own cars, or could drive in private without being seen.

    And for those who say, for example, legalising heroin would reduce problems associated with it: you’re wrong. Heroin and other drugs are deadly addictive, and making them legally available won’t change that…

    Regulating purity and strength absolutely will make heroin less deadly. Making it legal is essential to regulation.

    Making heroin legal would also make it easier for people to seek help and rehabilitation. Great strides in the treatment of addiction have been made in the last couple of decades as police have started to treat addicts as victims rather than as criminals.

    Also, legalisation would reduce prices, as it would increase competition between suppliers and eliminate the costs of getting heroin past the police. This would reduce ancillary crimes, such as addicts stealing to be able to afford their fix. It would reduce the number or turf wars between dealers, which frequently involve the deaths of nearby innocents.

    How many people call in sick to work because they’re hung over from a night of partying? Now imagine something ten times more addictive and dangerous to the self and think of what that will do for work productivity.

    I’m not convinced that there would be a major change; there’s not much data to go on (as heroine isn’t legal in any major economic power), but most people who want to get hold of heroin (or meth or cocaine) know how to do so, legal or not. Some people are specifically dissuaded by the illegality, but these aren’t the people who get so drunk on a weeknight that they can’t get up the next day.

    You may have a point here, but my gut disagrees. I’m certainly willing to be convinced; feel free to provide more evidence.

    This issue was a religious one, but it shouldn’t be. This is a question of what you’re willing to give up to insure safer and more secure lives for people who have no choice in the matter (like young children). They’re the ones who suffer for the availability of drugs, alcohol and gambling. Laws should be tougher for their sake, not some god’s.

    Agreed, with a caveat. Laws should be tougher where such a change produces positive effects. Making alcohol illegal did not improve the lives of the vulnerable, despite the huge amount of resources thrown at the problem. Perhaps, next time it will be done better, but I’d need some evidence that the lessons of prohibition have been learned before it’s tried again.

    I see no good coming from gambling (but I also see no good coming from, for example, playing tennis), but the most harm seems to come from illegal gambling, where the house has no reason not to load their dice, or break debtor’s legs than from reputable and regulated casinos that stand to lose a lot if they don’t do whatever the law requires to protect their patrons from themselves as well as from the casino.

    Although, I do think prostitution might actually improve if legalised.

    I am certain it would.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Another example:

    In Britain, drunk driving became a crime in the 60′s. At the time, it was seen as a stupid law, and it was generally considered that it was a god-given right to have a few drinks before driving home, and pity the poor bugger who got caught.

    But it quickly became obvious that making drunk driving illegal had a dramatic effect on the rates of traffic accidents and deaths, and public support for the law grew. Within a decade, a majority of people supported the law, and nowadays almost everyone who grew up under its aegis accept it (though, obviously, they don’t all follow it).

    Prohibition in the US lasted for 13 years, during which time it did not solve any social problems, and created a whole raft of new ones. People never saw any benefits coming out of prohibition that caused them to begin to support it. Historians, so far as I’m aware, do not credit it with any successes. If we are to repeat the experiment, we need to do it in a way that explicitly addresses the failures of the previous attempt.

  • Ty

    “Horribly thought out post.”

    I agree. But then I think most of your posts are horribly thought out.

    Oh, wait, you were talking about someone else?

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    You’re always good for some drive-by encouragement, Stephen! Thanks for owning us again! If only we could be as thoughtful as you…

  • http://wmdkitty.livejournal.com WMDKitty

    It’s my body, and I have EVERY RIGHT to do what I wish with it, AS LONG AS I DO NOT HARM OTHERS.

    I have every right to sit at home and get drunk, or high, or trip out on acid.

    As soon as I do something that affects other people, such as driving while intoxicated, my right to do as I please ends.

    The Government HAS NO RIGHT TO TELL US what we can do to or put into our bodies.