Friday, December 5, 2008

The Session #22 - Prohibition

Being British and living in the Czech Republic, the question for this month’s Session – what does the repeal of Prohibition mean to you, and how will you celebrate your right to drink beer? – could almost too easily be dismissed as irrelevant.

The driving force behind Prohibition was a misrepresentation of Christian values, in particular a misrepresentation of Puritanism. There is nothing in the Bible which denounces the making and drinking of alcohol, Jesus himself indulged in a spot of home-winemaking at the wedding in Cana, much to the consternation of his guests – how dare they leave the best wine to last, when everyone was so pickled they couldn’t appreciate the flavours and aromas of simply divine wine! Without wanting to get into the theological nuances of Greek, it was wine not grape juice that Jesus handed out at the Last Supper, anything else would have been strictly un-Kosher, and Jesus was after all a Jew.

In the UK we had the Temperance League, dedicated to stamping out the ill effects of drunkenness within the working classes – a well meaning, if patronizingly paternalistic, attempt to improve the lot of the working man in much the same way as New Lanark was to be a model village for the workers.

Banning alcohol is ultimately counter-productive, because the demand for drink will always be there regardless of what is on the statute books, and it simply serves to create a new class of criminals. If governments are serious about lessening the effects of binge drinking then education is the key rather than legislation. Attempts to stigmatise alcohol simply glamorizes it in the minds of the impressionable.

What does the repeal of Prohibition mean to me? It means that a misguided attempt to make a better world, the unintentional creation of criminals and the misrepresentation of the Christian faith was put thoroughly and rightly where it belongs, to bed. How will I celebrate my right to drink? Well I am not the kind of person to go shoving my rights in other people’s faces, I believe that every right has a corresponding responsibility – the right to drink is really about drinking responsibly, “whatever that means” to quote Prince Charles.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely,

    My Grandmother, who is a religious person and in her 90s, gets gets annoyed about the interpretation of temperance by hard-liners.

    Temperance simply means moderation, not prohibition. Where the limit for moderation is might be a point for discussion and most sensible people question the 21 units a week limit as being too low.

    Mainly, it's not about numerical limits. It's about how drinking effects your own and others lives. It is quite possible to become acceptably merry without being a pillock. I practice regularly, although being a pillock sober is a hindrance to this aim.


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