Friday, December 5, 2008

The Session #22: The Repeal of Prohibition

The 22nd installment of The Session is hosted by 21st Amendment Brewery. In an appropriate twist of fate, this Beer Blogging Friday falls on December 5th, the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition in the U.S. Our host describes this month's theme thusly:
In 1920, there were thousands of breweries across America making unique, hand-crafted beer. The passage of Prohibition wiped out this great culture. On December 5, 1933, the states ratified the 21st Amendment, repealing the 18th Amendment, thus ending 13 years of Prohibition in America. At the 21st Amendment Brewery, the repeal of Prohibition means we can celebrate the right to brew beer, the freedom to be innovative, and the obligation to have fun.

What does the repeal of Prohibition mean to you? How will you celebrate your right to drink beer?

For me, this anniversary serves as a reminder of what was, and what threatens to be again; the return of Prohibitionist restrictions. There are many forces, even today, working hard to take away our right to enjoy alcoholic beverages. They forget, or choose to ignore, the lessons of history and are willing to repeat the mistakes of the past. These forces often misinterpret biblical teachings for their own purposes. They distort the truth in order to advance their agenda. It is against these organizations that we must be ever-vigilent. I don't want to rehash items I've already covered, but will list a few reminders of the battle we face.

Right here in Virginia, we've seen the battle against the Shooting Creek Brewery in Floyd County. There, so-called Christians fought the opening of a legal business. One of their tactics was to disparage people who would visit the brewery. "We don't need no more drunks out there" according to resident Gloria Underwood. The Nelson County Baptists prohibitionists claim to oppose the brewery "on biblical grounds." How they square that with biblical events such as the Wedding Feast at Cana and the Last Supper is unexplained.

Let's not forget the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). This is the group that led the movement that brought us Prohibition in the first place, and they are still active today. I covered this group previously. Like the group in Nelson County, they base their claims on their personal, and distorted, bible interpretations.

The ever-present Mother Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is America's most visible neo-prohibitionist organization. Organized under a noble purpose, the group has transformed its mission from education about drunk driving into lobbying against any alcohol consumption. They have proven they will go to any length, including emotional terrorism, to promote their agenda.

Not to be forgotten, the Prohibition Party has run a candidate for the presidency of the United States every election year since 1872. Even though the candidates have been ineffective, never garnering more than a quarter of a million votes, they continue to press their agenda. Gene Amondson (warning: auto-play audio) was apparently the Prohibitionist presidential candidate in 2004 and 2008.

Though this next example doesn't apply to the United States, if you need another reminder on how quickly things can change, take a look at a country famous for its fine wines. Thanks to restrictionist influences, the France now faces a ban on online advertising, and even websites that mention alcohol. With that victory under their belt, it would be foolhardy to think the anti-alcohol forces will stop with their campaign with advertising restrictions. Thousands of French drinkers could be held under the thumb of extremists! Yes, the same thing could happen here unless we are vigilant.

How do we counter these attacks? First of all, take away the ammunition from the opponent. Drink responsibly. The drunk driving issue is one of the biggest issues the neo-prohibitonists have going for them. Many of their points are valid, so we need to remove them from the equation. Educate young people. Our youth have been short-changed when it comes to learning how to enjoy alcoholic beverages responsibly. Drink craft beer. The craft beer industry as a whole promotes a more responsible image than the factory beers have historically done. Support your local brewery. Local breweries are often very active in doing good works in their communities.

I'm certainly not trying to be an alarmist. Let's celebrate the repeal of Prohibition and be thankful that we have so many fine craft beers, and other alcoholic beverages to enjoy legally and openly. Just keep in mind that these organizations don't represent ancient history. They are actively working today to take away your freedom to responsibly enjoy alcoholic beverages. On this anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, there will be many celebrations to mark the occasion. And the celebrations are warranted. We should however, take heed at this time to remember that the battle may have been won, but the war continues. By remaining vigilent and active, we can stave off the forces that seek to remove our ability to enjoy good beer.

How will I celebrate this occasion? By sharing a bottle of American craft beer with my wife, in the comfort of my home, and demonstrating to my son that it's an okay thing to do.

Be sure to check the 21st Amendment Brewery website for the summary of all this month's contributions to The Session.

Update, December 9: The Session roundup has been posted here.


  1. Isn't Shooting Creek in Floyd County?

  2. Tom, correct you are. I typed the wrong county, probably mixing up the counties with Devil's Backbone in Nelson. Thanks for catching that, it's corrected.

  3. Defend the 21st with the 2nd, I always say. Never trust someone who opposes drinking...

  4. Wow! I didn't realize that some of these organizations still exist and still oppose the consumption of alcohol...


  5. Great post. You filled in some great info that I was just too lazy (or busy) to do myself. Thanks for supporting craft brews. Beer, wine, and whiskey making should all be points of pride for our great nation, and one day beer will be seen as a wonderful agricultural and artisan product, and not as a drug or party favor. We have a long way to go.

  6. Very eloquently stated, David. Your comment on educating our youth appropriately is a wise one.

    In my college days, I saw far too many kids do very stupid things with alcohol. Invariably, they came from households that completely banned alcohol. Now, suddenly at college they found themselves without parental oversight for the first time. Unfortunately, they had also never heard about how to drink responsibly. You can imagine how that turned out. One of them was very lucky not to die.

    Now, I went to a beer drinking school. #2 in the nation while I was there. And a vast majority did it responsibly. My friends had all been given guidance while they were growing up, which was the case for me as well. We were able to have a good time, party and all that and yet do it safely and responsibly.

    So the difference has been stark for me. Those who were exposed to alcohol by their parents in their youth knew how to handle it. Those for whom alcohol had been forbidden as a mortal sin all their lives were the ones who were most in danger. So it makes sense that fostering responsible consumption is the way to go, and that the prohibitionist view only leads to tragedy and strife.

  7. Don't forget about Brewdog and that interest group that they are battling over in Scotland.


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