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What the Current Magazines Are Saying About Prohibition
and Law Enforcement (Reviewed by Emma L. Transeau) (Literary Digest, May 11, 1929) GRAPES AT THE VOLSTEAD BAR Commissioner Doran’s proposal to find out what if any part of California’s grape juice is flowing into bootleg channels or into the manufacture of wines has re ceived considerable facetious comment from more or less wet newspapers, such as the Springfield Union, the Washington Star, the Philadelphia Ev>ening Public Ledger, the Virginia Pilot, the Baltimore Sun and the New Haven Journal. The nature of their comment shows the justi fication for Commissioner Doran’s quest for facts. They ridicule the very suppo sition that California’s increased grape production has any other explanation than increased wine-making. NO WAR OVER “I’M ALONE” (Literary Digest, May 11, 1929) Newspapers are said to be virtually in approval of the decision to arbitrate the dispute between the United States and Canada on the sinking of the vessel I’m Alone. Much is said of the possibility that Canada might abrogate the one hour-sail treaty in regard to chasing rum running vessels. The opinion of the Ca nadian Minister, Vincent Massey, “that the most essential elements of justifica tion under the doctrine of hot pursuit ap pear to be lacking,” is contrasted with the opinion of United States Secretary of State Stimson who says in justifiaction of the sinking: The undisputed evidence is that the master of the I’m Alone refused to stop, although repeatedly warned, and that there was no way of boarding it while in motion, and that the Coast Guard offi cials had the choice of allowing it to escape or sinking it. A significant fact in the case is that the master of the I’m Alone preferred to be sunk rather than be taken into court, where the nature of its activities, its distance from the coast, its s^^eed and the other fac tors in the case would have been subject to impartial judicial examination. WHY RE-EXPERIMENT? (Collier's, June 8, 1929) Collier's accordingly now proposes an amendment to the Eighteenth Amend ment. [Amendment Suggested]: “The Congress shall have the power to regu late or prohibit the manufacture, sale or transportation o f intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof, but such grant of power shall not be construed to require that such regulation or prohibition shall be uniform throughout the United States nor deprive the states of power to impose additional regulations or pro hibitions upon such manufacture, sale, transportation, importation or exporta tion. Such an amendment would be merely a grant of power. It would not be a definition of policy. Under it any num ber of experiments. Federal, state or lo cal, might be undertaken. The adoption of such an amendment wrould leave Con gress and the states free to deal with the alcohol traffic as conditions and public opinion warrant. This is Collier’s answer to Senator Borah’s challenge to those who do nothing but “denounce the law, decry its advocates and embarrass those who would enforce it.” Its own columns the preceding week (June 1), showed how its proposal would fail. Its writer on South Carolina explains (page 9) that “South Carolina has the legislative rather than the executive form of government, so a governor can not do much. He is more an administrative than executive officer. County Sheriff’s are not subject to his will. Magistrates are ap pointed by and with the advice and con sent of the Senate, which means that the Senator from a county names the magis trates for his county, or leaves their se lection to popular vote in the primary. No Legislature has ever made a large appro priation for the governor’s law-enforcing constables, a handful of officers who ac tually are subject to the chief executive.” And yet the local officers, sheriffs, and their assistants, rural police, city police, who are supposed ordinarily to enforce all state laws, often “pass the buck,” to this very “handful of officers” composing the governor’s constabulary. Why do they? For the same reason that they would con tinue to do so if the state had its own. more or less permissive liquor law—fear cf losing office if they opposed the side that might marshall the most voted.- And if a legalized liquor traffic were in the saddle, it would see to it that the fears of those who oposed it were justified. History would repeat itself. We should copy the progress of the crab. (The Century Magazine) IT DOES NOT OPERATE THAT WAY IN CANADA Congress can, by decent amendments of the Volstead act . . . limit “liquors” to its true trade significance—distilled spirits—and permit wine and beer to be manufactured and indulged in under reasonable regulations; and this should operate to put at an end the traffic in distilled intoxicating liquors.—“The In dictment of Prohibition,” by Joseph S. Averbach. Since the legislation here suggested has been in operation in Canada the traffic in distilled spirits as shown by the govern ment sales in the several provinces, has boomed instead of dwindled. Returns from Ontario in 1927 showed over 60 per cent of the sales going to spirits against 36 per cent to beer and 3 per cent to wine. Alberta, under government promoted beer consumption has increased its “hard liquor” consumption Q925-1926) 32.4 per cent; Saskatchawan has had a 33 per cent increase; British Columbia, 50 per cent. The relation of beei drinking to spirit drinking is not that of a cure, but a lure. (Century Magazine. June, 1929) A VERY ONE-SIDED PRESENTATION The prohibition is complete, and the physician who prescribes for a patient more than a pint of liquor in any ten days becomes a criminal, though the ministry be for alleviation of pain, the prolongation or even the saving of life. Moreover, the conclusions of eminent medical authorities submitted to the Su preme Court in the Lambert case are that, notably in febrile cases, where the stomach may resent the reception of food, the amount of alcoholic liquor re quired is often as much as a pint a day for arresting the disease.—“The Indict ment of Prohibition,” by Joseph S. Aver bach. When 49 per cent of the 32.585 physi cians who answered the American Medical Association’s questionnaire about the ne cessity for whisky in medicine replied that they did not think it necessary, should not the modest laymen hesitate about dogma tizing on it until the doctors have come more nearly to an agreement? The paroxysms of indignation expressed here, and by some other writers, over an assumed loss of life because of dearth of alcohol proclaims either a prejudice which prevents just treatment of physicians who get better results without alcohol than with it, or ignorance of the existence of such physicians and their evidence. If the energy now spent in emotionalism over prohibition were spent on the study of the thing prohibited, there would be fewer ugly epithets, less war paint and more brotherly love and appreciation. (The Century Magazine. June, ’929> WHERE THE WARRANT FOR SUCH EXPECTATION? When the Amendment was proposed for adoption no thought was in the mind of the Legislatures or citizens gen erally that it would forbid the use for beverage purposes of liquorr not in fact intoxicating. There vras the thought, too, in the minds of many, that intoxicating liquors were to be interpreted in their trade sense as distilled spirits, and not as beer or fermented wines. But assuming this latter suggestion not to be wholly war ranted, it can be safely said that the people of this country were shocked, when Congress acted upon the assump tion that a roving commission had been conferred upon it to commit the wrong of enacting the “one-half of one per cent” limitation of alcoholic content. —“The Indictment of Prohibition,” by Joseph S. Averbach. How could any one outside of the brew ers’ organization and their literary bu reaus expect that “intoxicating liquors” would be taken to mean only distilled spirits when the liquor laws of at least 25 states definitely stated that the words covered both malt and fermented liquors and in most instances specifically named, ale, beer and wine “and other intoxicating liquors.” Thirteen states added the lim itation adopted by the United States Rev enue Department in 1902, one-half of one per cent, at the suggestion of the brew ers. Of course the author is speaking in syn ecdoche. the figure of speech which puts a part for the whole, when he describes “the people of this country” as “shocked” at the Volstead limitation. With rather more warrant could “the people’’ be rep resented as “jubilant” at this termination of the legalized liquor traffic, for they ex pressed their joy by the ringing of church hells and other audible and visible demon strations of approval. (Collier's, June 8, 1S29) TO WHAT PURPOSE? Collier’s has pictured the evils which have grown up under prohibition—the drinking, the bribery, the corruption, the crime, which are national scandals. Yes, but not—at least not recently—the evils that thrive under the legalized liquor traffic, although hedged about with all the THE JONES LAW The Act That Has Terrified Bootleggers and Enraged Wet Newspapers An Act To amend the National Prohibition Act, as amended AND SUPPLEMENTED Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled, That wherever a penalty or penalties are prescribed in a criminal prosecution by the National Pro hibition Act, as amended and supplemented, for the illegal manufacture, sale, transportation, importation, or exportation of intoxicating liquor, as defined by Section 1, Title II, of the National Prohibition Act, the penalty imposed for each such offense shall be a fine not to exceed $10,000 or im prisonment not to exceed five years, or both: Provided, That it is the intent of Congress that the court, in imposing sentence hereunder, should dis criminate between casual or slight violations and habitual sales of intoxi cating liquor, or attempts to commercialize violations of the law. Sec. 2. This Act shall not repeal nor eliminate any minimum penalty for the first or any subsequent offense now provided by the said National Prohibition Act. Approved, March 2, 1929. N. B.—Penalties are alternative, a fine "or" imprisonment “or" both. Maximums are given. Minimums are left to court discretion. “The intent of Congress is “the court . . . should discriminate between casual or slight violations and habitual sales . . . to commercialize viola tions. It is aimed at big offenders—bootleggers—not at small. restrictions that could be enacted against the traffic’s organized opposition. As Sen ator Borah, in his masterly arraignment of the evils of drink and of those who offer nothing but censure of the law by which the United States proposes to end them, says of these pictures: For what purpose are these facts gath ered? Are they to be used to break down the law and stop there? Are they to be used in support of another pro gram? If so. what is the program? Are they in justification of the old days or in support of government ownership? Is it to be assumed from these facts that no violations of liquor laws ever tool place except under this law? The whole question is: What arc we going to do. admitting all these things that are now charged to be true? . . . If, instead of the saloon system, you consider government ownership and control, we meet with the same ruthless disregard of the law. . . . There is not an element of disorder, not a form of vice, not an incentive to crime, not a crime charged under prohibition that is not duplicated in any country and under any system designed to control the liq uor traffic. . . . Long before the adop tion of the Eighteenth Amendment, there were twelve murders in the city of New York to one in London. There were twenty robberies in Chicago for one in all England and Wales combined. . . . We had better deal with the liquor traffic as an outlaw than as something legalized and to be controlled. (Outlook and Independent, June 5, 1929) WHY DRINK COCKTAILS WHEN WINE IS PLENTY? When the cocktail was banished from America it came to Europe. The real American cocktail, I mean—not its de generate successor, concocted from syn thetic mysteries in defiance of the law, which still irrigates and poisons Ameri cans of the Prohibition Era. Over here in Europe, the genuine American cock tail of pre-prohibition days flourishes in a glory brighter than ever before—so much so indeed that it is causing acute worry among the conservatives of • France. . . . One doctor, lecturing before the Paris Academy of Medicine the other day, told his auditors of a great increase in the consumption of alcohol among the upper classes in France—due largely to the vogue of le cocktail. “A bas le Cocktaii!" shout these champions of yesterday against the inroads of today. Nevertheless, a new “American Bar” ' seems to spring up everyday and the list of “American cocktails” lengthens daily. —T. R. Ybarri, Paris. Why, if wins is the superior soul and body satisfying beverage that its friends— and dealers—claim, should any one turn to stronger drinks? For precisely the same reason that French wine drinkers once graduated from wine to absinth be fore the country, as a war measure, pro hibited that destructive drink. The Paris Academy condemned absinth, as it now condemns the cocktail, and there were not lacking in that scientific body members who could describe the gradations from the weak wine stage to the strong “liq ueur” stage. As soon as a drinker began to drink his red wine for its effect, its “kick," in American slang, he found he could get the effect quicker with the stronger white wine. Then he must have brandy to produce the desired effect, and then the little glass, in addition to all the others. The French wine merchant is far from solving in his own country the problem of teaching a people how to drink alcoholic wine and be free from the desire for the alcohol effect. ROOSEVELT ON LAW ‘•The worst possible lesson to teach any citizen is contempt for law. No man should take a public office unless he is willing to obey his oath and to enforce the law. “If the poor man has a right to break the law on Sunday to get beer he has a right to break the law on every day to get bread. It is a good deal more important to the poor man that he should get fed on week days than that he get drunk on Sundays. The people who try to teach him that he has a right to break the law on one day to get beer are doing their best to prepare him for breaking the law some other day to take bread."—Theodore Roosevelt.