By Whidden Graham
THE basis of the agitation for prohibitory laws is the assumed right of the "good” people of the country to compel the "bad” people to do what they think is best for them. As I am one of the "good” people who do not like alcoholic beverages, I demand that their use by “bad” people shall be absolutely prohibited.
Small-minded persons have derided our claim that we are the ‘‘good," and have pointed out that history is full of cases where men assuming to be better than their fellows, have tortured and killed those who did not agree with them, in order to force them also to be good. There is a vast difference between the bigots who tried to make them religious by law, and ourselves. They only thought that they were good. We know that we are good.
The report of the "Committee of Fifty to Investigate the Liquor Problem” states that 80 percent of the adult male population of the country use alcoholic beverages. This shows that 80 per cent of the adult males are unfit to govern themselves.
I believe in majority rule when the majority favors prohibition. I favor minority rule in matters relating to the personal tastes of those whose ideas differ from mine, and want laws enacted that will put them in jail, if they persist in their wicked ways.
I believe that the people in general are incapable of deciding wisely as to their personal habits, and that the small and select minority, of which I am one, can regulate the private affairs of the majority a great deal better than they can themselves.
People who do not agree with me are either foolish or wicked. The foolish should be restrained by law from following their inclinations. The wicked should be punished for refusing to live as I do.
I hold that it is the duty of American citizens to impose by law their peculiar ideas of virtue and morality upon their neighbors. If the latter protest, they must be made to understand that they have no rights that we reformers are bound to respect.
It is claimed by the opponents of prohibition that the prohibitory laws of the various dry states have always failed to decrease the use of liquors. While this is true, it merely shows the inherent cussedness of human nature, in that men prefer to follow their own selfish desires, rather than obey the rules of conduct that we have wisely laid down for them.
The only way to make men truly moral and virtuous is to deprive them of temptation by unenforceable legislation. My idea of virtue is a man in a three-acre lot, surrounded by a six-foot-high barb wire fence.
The crying evil of the age is the selfish tendency of the great mass of people to attend to their own business, instead of meddling with other people’s affairs. I believe that. “Blessed are the busy-bodies, for they shall annoy the whole earth.”
The protection of fools against the consequences of their own folly is the highest function of government. and ensures the production of a bigger crop of fools.
Prohibition puts the ban of outlawry on the liquor traffic; drives all self-respecting and decent men out of the business: and makes it necessary for those who wish to drink to get their liquor from irresponsible dealers. This is deplorable: but I cannot allow facts to interfere with my determination to compel men to do as I do, instead of as they wish.
I believe that although prohibition promotes hypocrisy, and disrespect for law, it is far better to have laws that are not enforced, than to leave the people to their own devices.
The excessive use of alcoholic beverages is injurious to health. Excessive eating causes indigestion, auto-intoxication, and a host of other evils. Therefore, the manufacture and sale of food should be prohibited.
Mankind in general are so foolish that they cannot learn by experience what is good for them. It is therefore necessary that we, the wise minority, should assume the burden of regulating their personal habits.
Many cases have been known of poor people drinking. Their drinking habits must have caused their poverty. It is true that many rich people also drink, but drinking has nothing to do with their prosperity.
Opponents of prohibition claim that the simplest and easiest way to prevent the excessive use of liquors would be for the people who cannot drink in moderation to stop drinking. This might be an effective remedy, but what would become of us subsidized reformers and professional agitators?
I favor prohibition because I believe in personal liberty and the right of every man to do as he pleases, so long as he does what pleases me.
Lastly: I am for prohibition because I find no enjoyment in drinking, and I can see no reason why pleasures that are denied to me should be allowed
--- published in Reedy's Mirror, August 25, 1916.