Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Après moi le déluge

In the wake of the unexpected Louisville smoking ban and the newly-proposed statewide smoking ban, I've had an epiphany: if we want to protect the forces of evil from banning alcohol, we'd better go ahead and start marshalling our forces now.

Oh, that'll never happen, right? And yet, when I came into this world, the idea that tobacco would ever have even a chance at someday being banned - and in freakin' Kentucky of all the states in this confused Union - was laughable tinfoil-hat kook talk. But now, bizarrely, even as marijuana of all things is actually making significant legal inroads, it's two steps back for the sacred sacrement of non-wacky tobacky. Clearly, this is not the same world that I came into.

As unthinkable as tobacco bans were in the 1960s, that's just how unthinkable bringing back liquor prohibition is now. But it's like "Anything Can Happen Day" on the Mickey Mouse Club; the rumblings are already being heard from groups both left-wing and right-wing, who see alcohol as the next "there ought to be a law" target to help bring us more in line with enlightened nations like, uh, Russia and Bahrain.

Just a couple of weeks ago, a South Carolina minister said he wants alcohol banned because it could save lives. And among the rabble who bother arguing about such issues on blog posts and news stories, many are actually expressing agreement.

And how about this petition to return to prohibition, brought to you ironically from a group called The Autonomy Party. This kind of Orwellian doublethink should frighten any patriotic citizen whether you imbibe or not.

"We, the Undersigned, are sick in the stomach and hurt in the heart due to all the rape and sexual assault, drunken driving deaths, child abuse and neglect, divorce, anxiety and other psychological disorders, cirrhosis of the liver and other health problems, enslavement through addiction and dependence, bad decisions, destroyed property, drunk driving deaths and injuries, depression, damaged property of innocent business owners, insincerity and phony personalities, rowdy and obnoxious behavior, avoiding dealing with problems, sour moods, rage, angst, violence, clogged courts, declined productivity in labor and a host of other problems caused and / or instigated and / or worsened by alcohol."

Wow. Just wow.

Selective bans of alcohol on certain kinds of premises are already underway. It's quickly becoming an accepted sort of common sense that booze should be banned from strip clubs, homeless shelters, and even military installations during combat duty. (You can send boys to war, but you don't want them to have a beer during their downtime in between dodging sniper fire and looking for landmines? What would Colonel Bill Kilgore say?)

A Google search for "bring back prohibition" finds hordes of wackaloons who are expressing precisely that very sentiment. Fortunately, it did also produce some hits to sensible folks like Canadian columnist Alan Caruba, who notes, "I smoke cigars. I have smoked them since I was in my twenties and I am now in my seventies. My father, who passed away in his early nineties, smoked a pipe from his youth. Second-hand smoke had no apparent affect on my mother who passed away at age 98."

As any viewer of Boardwalk Empire knows, the smart guys had a vast network of underground alcohol manufacturing already in place before the axe of 1920s prohibition came down. It's time to prepare for a potentially dry future, my friends, and start building similar networks right now.

Educate every red-blooded American man, woman and child in the means to ferment wine and beer. Let the process of building a still become as common knowledge as how to change the distributor cap on your Chevy, and let recipes for liqueurs spread like wildfire in a tinderbox on the net.

Nothing else you do in your current span may be this important.

(Images: 1. Title still from Robert Mitchum's epic story of Kentucky moonshine rebellion, Thunder Road. 2. Rum runner sloop Kirk and Sweeney with contraband stacked on deck, 1924. 3. Buncha unknown old guys standing around a still sometime back in the day. 4. Henry Chinaski, wielding the tools of his trade.)

- - JSH

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