“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”

Today — Friday, December 5, 2008 — marks the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, which should be cause for general celebration around the country.

On October 28, 1919, the Volstead Act was passed by Congress, vetoed by President Woodrow Wilson, and then overridden by Congress on the same day. The act stated that “no person shall manufacture, sell, barter, transport, import, export, deliver, furnish or possess any intoxicating liquor except as authorized by this act”.

The following ratification of a Constitutional amendment marked the beginning of a 13-year-long Era of Prohibition, lasting from January 16, 1920 to December 5, 1933.

[Note: Marijuana has been illegal for 71 years.]

In February of 1933, after a decade long battle against Prohibition, Congress proposed an amendment to repeal Prohibition (in the form of the Blaine Act) and on December 5, 1933, the nation ratified the Twenty-first Amendment, repealing the Eighteenth Amendment, making the Volstead Act unconstitutional, and restoring control of alcohol to the states.

Prohibition laws were the direct consequence of meddling religionists attempting to codify into law, and through the mob rule of democracy, their own peculiar moral values and thus impose them on all others through the coercive force of the federal government. The insidious and pernicious encroachment of subjective, faith-based moralities into the objective law of a secular and pluralistic free nation must continue to be resisted today and into the future.

…the illegality of drugs rests on a certain philosophic idea that is inimical to the founding principles of America and should not be defended or accepted uncritically. The idea that people do not have the right to their own bodies and that the state (or collective) should intervene to “guide” people in making the correct choices provides the philosophical underpinning for the drug laws. -Amesh A. Adalja, Letter to Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 12/3/08

Congratulations on this anniversary go to all of the thinkers, politicians, activists and commentators who made this repeal possible; most especially H.L. Mencken (1880-1956), a Baltimore libertarian journalist, humorist, and stalwart defender of liberty.

The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are. -Mencken


Short Prohibition Documentary

Prohibition Repealed, Industry Booms

Still Free to Booze
Brandon Arnold | Cato Institute | December 5, 2008

Let’s End Drug Prohibition
By Ethan A. Nadelmann | Wall Street Journal | December 5, 2008
Most Americans agreed that alcohol suppression was worse than alcohol consumption.

Drug Wars: The Movie
Exclusive interviews with some of the “big dogs” in the narco-trafficking food chain reveal what the narco lifestyle is really like in this tell-all investigation of the Mexican drug cartels.

Mencken: The American Iconoclast
by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers | September 10, 2007
For much of the early 20th century, Mencken, aka the Baron of Baltimore, was the country’s most famous pundit, inspiring both love and fear and sometimes an equal measure of both. As novelist Richard Wright noted, “He was using words as a weapon.” His targets were only the biggest issues of his day: Prohibition, puritanism and censorship.

Lord, Deliver Us from Prohibition
H.L. Mencken (as “Major Owen Hatteras”) | The Smart Set | 1920
The one page article is written in typical Menkenese and catalogs example after example of how prohibition is creating a worse society, not a better one; citizens of all stripes who would otherwise be judged as honest souls, are instead committing illegal acts and there seemed to be no end in sight to such behavior.

Is the U.S. a Christian Nation?
In a 2007 interview with, John McCain stated that “the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.” While some were encouraged by McCain’s words, others took great offense, reigniting a passionate debate about the intentions of America’s founders.

The Coalition for Secular Government
CSG advocates government solely based on secular principles of individual rights. The protection of a person’s basic rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness — including freedom of religion and conscience — requires a strict separation of church and state.

Economics of Prohibition
Mark Thornton | 1991
The purpose of the following investigation is to improve our understanding of the origins and results of prohibition, and therefore indirectly to contribute to future policymaking, shifting it toward rationality.

Persuasion vs. Force
by Mark Skousen | 1992
Convincing the public of our message, that “persuasion instead of force is the sign of a civilized society,” will require a lot of hard work, but it can be rewarding.

It’s time to end drug prohibition
By Ethan Nadelmann | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | December 14, 2008
Supporters of Prohibition blamed the consumers and some went so far as to argue that those who violated the laws deserved whatever ills befell them. But by 1933, most Americans blamed Prohibition itself.

Forbidden Thoughts from Mencken
Doug French | Mises Institute | 2/26/2009
Writes Menken, the common man has no interest in liberty: “he is not actually happy when free; he is uncomfortable, a bit alarmed, and intolerably lonely. He longs for the warm, reassuring smell of the herd, and is willing to take the herdsman with it.”


About Tim Peck

Unaffiliated Objectivist
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