Archive for the ‘Prohibition’ Category
Wednesday, December 29th, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
The bludgeoning She-Beast herself, Carrie A. Nation. Poster child of the Temperance Movement and Anti-Saloon League.
The biggest argument against public drinking is that it leads to mayhem, violence, and eventually death. It is upon this idea that almost every state in America has laws against open containers of alcohol in public. There are eight states that do not have open container laws, but within those states, there are only a few select communities that have not passed local ordinances that prohibit public drinking. The historic district of Savannah, Georgia is one of them, as well as Butte, Montana; the Las Vegas Strip; Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee; The Power and Light District in Kansas City, Missouri, and New Orleans.
In a sort of mind numbing paradox, there are several states (Mississippi, Virginia, West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Connecticut, Delaware) that allow open containers of alcohol to be in a moving motor vehicle, but do not allow open containers in public. Furthering the incredulous nature of this paradox, Mississippi even allows drivers to drink while operating their vehicle, as long as they remain below the legal limit of .08 BAC. Despite allowing people to drink while driving, it is illegal to drink on a sidewalk in Mississippi, and despite allowing open containers of alcohol in a moving vehicle, the other states also prohibit it.
The laws don’t make much sense, but then again, they oftentimes don’t. Take these gems for example: Up until 2004, it was illegal in North Carolina to practice palmistry or fortune telling unless in a school or church; It is illegal in Virginia to engage in pre-marital sex, under a law titled “Fornication”; in Tennessee carrying skunks into the state is outlawed, and in New Jersey it is illegal to wear a bulletproof vest while committing murder.
Sunday, May 30th, 2010
The results are in from the 2010 “Beer City USA” poll with Asheville, North Carolina, emerging the victor in a close battle with Portland, Oregon, with whom they tied in last year’s voting. According to official results, Asheville won with 39.9 percent of votes; 34.1 percent were attributed to Portland.
The Asheville-based Citizen Times reported that the title is one celebrated by the area, whose beer community in Buncombe County consists of nine breweries. Only weeks away in June, the city will celebrate its first first “Beer City Festival” in downtown Asheville.
In total, close to 19,000 votes were cast. Among the US cities that also placed in the ranking were Denver, CO, and Milwaukee, WI. In 2009, Asheville also tied with Portland, leading some to consider this a “second victory” for the rustic Western NC city.
Sunday, March 7th, 2010
The city of Arab, Alabama, recently got an unexpected surprise: research by the city’s police chief, Mike Blackwood, found that alcohol related offenses have not risen since 2008, when the town decided to begin allowing sale of spirits. But that’s not all, according to a recent statement from Blackwood that appeared in the Cullman Times online. “We’ve seen about a 6 percent decrease in alcohol-related crimes,” he adds, and though he warns that it’s still fairly early in the game to draw conclusions, “so far the alcohol-related crime is down.”
Additionally, Blackwood says that statistics he collected from other towns in the region who decided to lift bans on the sale of alcohol reported similar drops in violent crime related to alcohol consumption. But perhaps the most interesting facet of Blackwood’s findings has to do with how the number of people drinking and driving through the area has dropped as well.
Friday, February 26th, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
It is apparently old news that the United States government poisoned alcohol during prohibition in a bid to stop drinking altogether, but I had not heard of it until reading an article on Slate a couple days ago.
During the 1920′s, at the height of prohibition and the underground world of Speakeasies, some 60 million gallons of industrial alcohol were being stolen each year and re-distilled back into drinkable alcohol. The government had a problem with this, and president Coolidge’s administration decided that drastic measures must be taken to preserve the sanctity of American life. Obviously, the logical decision was to poison industrial alcohol, so that whenever anyone imbibed in it, they would get incredibly sick and possibly die. Some 10,000 people died from these efforts, and possibly many more. Newspapers in Chicago decried the act, calling it barbarous, while the Omaha Bee in Nebraska defended it.
Despite critics vehemently arguing against this tactic, from politicians to medical experts, the government persisted in tainting alcohol supplies until the end of prohibition. Socially speaking, it seemed that the upper class imbibers were not being affected nearly as much by the poison–which included kerosene, gasoline, camphor, formaldehyde, methyl alcohol, carbolic acid and who knows how many others–because they could afford more expensive, smuggled liquor. The primary victim of this insane plot were the poor and lower middle class who were the famous consumers of bathtub gin.
New York City medical examiners knew something was wrong during the Christmas season of 1926, when some 60 violently ill people were admitted to hospitals, of which 23 died. The explanation was chalked up not to alcohol poisoning as they were very accustomed to seeing, but to just plain poisoning. The source was a mystery until word began getting out that it was actually a government mandated operation to solve the drinking problem; During the years of prohibition it is estimated that alcoholism rose by 300%.
The obvious moral question (with an obvious answer, I feel), focuses around the government’s knowledge that this drinking was going on: Knowing that people are using industrial alcohol to consume, is it okay to poison that supply and essentially engage in mass murder in order to stop it?
While it may have been illegal to produce and transport alcohol, it was not illegal to consume it, as many people erroneously believe. Even if it was illegal to consume, does that justify a death sentence?
This was an egregious violation of civil rights and human rights, and I can only hope that sentiments such as these have ceased to exist in this advanced society that we live in.
Here’s hoping, and my drink tonight will be in honor of those victims of an unwarranted, deadly prohibition crackdown.
Sunday, January 24th, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
The L.A. Times reports on alcohol crackdowns in Baghdad.
With Saddam Hussein removed as the Dictator in charge of Iraq, hope was sprung for millions of people to enjoy freedoms that were unimaginable up to that point. People cheered, and savvy businessmen opened clubs and bars all around the downtown district of Baghdad. Alcohol flowed freely, and the people of Iraq had a real taste of the west. Unfortunately, militia activity began rising and pushing against alcohol, and many places stopped carrying it for fear of invoking the wrath of the Islamic extremists. Still, many brave business owners continued with the practice of selling alcoholic beverages to their patrons, and they seemed to endure through the hardships of insurgent violence, but even having succeeded in that environment, they are finding an even tougher challenge ahead.
Saturday, December 19th, 2009
By Christopher McCollum
Two evenings ago, Micah Hanks and myself were spending the evening interviewing brewers, and tasting beer. The following morning, there were 6 inches of snow on the ground. While we had seen the forecast that called for several inches of snow, we figured that, like usual with mountain weather reports, it was grossly over-exaggerated. Little did we know, we would receive what would become known within hours as the worst winter storm of the decade in this part of the country, and we would receive some 11 to 17 inches of snow in Asheville, within a 20 hour period.
As the afternoon went by at my house, one tree came crashing down in the backyard, missing the house by no more than 4 or 5 feet.
This led to a frantic next couple hours, with my roommate and I doing our best to knock snow off the lower branches of trees, trying to keep them from snapping and causing potential damage to the house. These frantic efforts relieved the stress on the trees and they rose back up to the sky, with hundreds of pounds of snow dropping to the ground, down our sleeves, and down the open collars of our coats. But fortunately, our power stayed on, even though thousands around the city were already flickering out.
We stayed inside, ate ham sandwiches and drank some beer, until 11:15pm. Right after the basketball game we were watching ended, the power finally flickered once and died, for the rest of the night. After gathering all the flashlights together, lighting some well placed candles, and watching the eerie scene out the window, of a bright snowscape that breathed beauty.
At around midnight, we finally decided that since we weren’t going to be going to sleep that early, we might as well make some cocktails. So we did it in the style of Culture of Spirits, with cutting boards, oranges, limes, lemons, tequila, bourbon, and vodka.
Thursday, October 1st, 2009
The Scottish Brewery BrewDog underwent major criticism from health advocates and alcohol awareness groups this past summer, as they unveiled their new beer, Tokyo*. Tokyo* is Britain’s highest alcohol content beer, at 18.2%, and they were slammed for being irresponsible, by providing a beer with that high of an alcohol content, in a society that is already troubled by alcoholism.
In response to this criticism, BrewDog is launching their newest beer, naming it ‘Nanny State,’ with an ABV of 1.1%. They are very pleased with the production of the drink, which by British law, does not have a high enough alcohol content to even be called beer. They claim that it has more hops per barrel than any other British beer, and they are all hand picked by the brewers as their personal favorites. Richard McLelland, BrewDog’s sales director, had this to say: ”It is an extraordinary little ale, jammed full of all the brewer’s favourite hops, giving it as much body and mouth feel as possible, ensuring that low strength does not translate into reduced flavour.”
Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
The Kennedys have often been referred to over the years as American Royalty, their kingdom square in one of the oldest European Colonized regions in the United States. The Kennedys first arrived in 1849, and produced their first politician in Patrick, who served several terms in the Massachusetts House and Senate. Patrick was the Patriarch of arguably one of the most Cultured families in the country, and would be the grandfather to arguably one of the most popular presidents in American history, John F. Kennedy, whose love for the Daiquiri has already been documented in ‘Spirits of the Oval Office,’ back in early August.
Middle; Joseph Kennedy, Right; John F. Kennedy
Even though JFK is the most famous of Patrick’s descendants, it is actually his firstborn child, Joseph, who might have the more interesting connection with alcohol. Joseph Patrick Kennedy was for all intents and purposes, the primary creator of the family fortune, utilizing business practices that would later become illegal, such as the stock-pool, in which groups of investors would work to inflate the value of a stock and then dump it before it crashed. He was also involved in real estate, merchandising, commodities, and import/export. It was these industries that he used to build the Kennedy fortune, but over the past several decades, many rumors have circulated that there was a slightly more illegal practice that he had engaged in during the 1920′s: Bootlegging.
Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
That’s right, Big Brother. Alcoholic indulgence is still a prolific issue in England, and now British doctors are calling for the removal of alcoholic advertisements from television. Sadly, in all likelihood this would do little to ebb the flow of spirits down young people’s throats.
“The move was necessary to challenge Britain’s dangerous drinking culture,” Associated Press reports said Tuesday. In a recent report, The British Medical Association makes the assertion that “a rapid increase in alcohol consumption among young Britons in recent years was being underpinned by ‘clever alcohol advertising’,” as well as the fact that a prohibition on alcohol-related publicity was needed to help turn the situation around.
Although the idea here is only to prohibit the appearance of advertisements (for now), red flags shoot up any time I see the “P word”. Removal of a company’s right to promote their product is a step in the right direction toward ultimately turning Britain into a dry country, although to jump to such conclusions at present may be a bit far off base. Nonetheless, when looking back at the history of Prohibition of alcohol in the United States, we are given some indications of ways that, socially, problems could get far worse if England ever does decide to tighten it’s grip on alcohol consumption.
Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
Recent legislation has introduced tough new anti-smoking laws in the U.S., which now give the federal government sweeping power over how cigarettes are made, packaged, and sold. Recently, President Barack Obama commented that, “Along with legislation to protect credit card owners from unfair rate hikes, homeowners from mortgage fraud and abuse, and taxpayers from wasteful defense spending, this kids tobacco bill would be the fourth piece of bipartisan legislation that I’ve signed into law over the last month that protects the American consumer and changes the way Washington works and who Washington works for.”
Cigarettes displayed for sale
“It will force these companies to more clearly and publicly acknowledge the harmful and deadly effects of the products they sell,” said the president, “and it will allow the scientists at the Food and Drug Administration to take other common sense steps to reduce the harmful effects of smoking.” The intention here, I believe, is honest and good. Also, I think that we members of the cultured alcohol elite would all agree that keeping potentially harmful products like cigarettes away from minors, much like preventing underage drinking, is of great merit without question. Still, the notion that the tobacco industry is being handed over to the FDA to be regulated doesn’t sit well, since it evokes the beginnings of something we already know is inherently flawed: Prohibition.