Ken Burn's three-part, five-and-a-half-hour documentary film series on the history of Prohibition in the U.S. provides a context for why Dec. 5, 1933, the date of its repeal, is a date worth remembering and commemorating.
From the description of his film :
"The culmination of nearly a century of activism, Prohibition was intended to improve, even to ennoble, the lives of all Americans, to protect individuals, families, and society at large from the devastating effects of alcohol abuse."
"But the enshrining of a faith-driven moral code in the Constitution paradoxically caused millions of Americans to rethink their definition of morality."
"Prohibition turned law-abiding citizens into criminals, made a mockery of the justice system, caused illicit drinking to seem glamorous and fun, encouraged neighborhood gangs to become national crime syndicates, permitted government officials to bend and sometimes even break the law, and fostered cynicism and hypocrisy that corroded the social contract all across the country. With Prohibition in place, but ineffectively enforced, one observer noted, America had hardly freed itself from the scourge of alcohol abuse – instead, the "drys" had their law, while the "wets" had their liquor."
It was a hard lesson for a nation deeply divided by the issue. Mississippi, the last dry state in the Union, ended Prohibition in 1966 ! The issue still resonates today, around questions of "... means and ends, individual rights and responsibilities, the proper role of government and finally, who is — and who is not — a real American."
Not only should we drink responsibly. But more importantly, we should legislate responsibly.
Here's to the 21st Amendment. Cheers !