Drug Legalization

Modern-Day Prohibition

The eternal temptation to ban things that give people pleasure


The Art of Suppression: Pleasure, Panic and Prohibition Since 1800, by Christopher Snowdon, Little Dice, 246 pages, $19.99

The new Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary Prohibition is a five-and-a-half-hour missed opportunity to demonstrate why bans on substances are doomed from the start. Fortunately, for those who want to understand the irresistible lure of all types of prohibitions, there is Christopher Snowdon's The Art of Suppression: Pleasure, Panic and Prohibition Since 1800. Although Snowdon's comprehensive history will never reach as many people as the PBS series, The Art of Suppression makes the case that Burns seems to go out of his way to avoid: that prohibition of products that people desire, whether alcohol a century ago or Ecstasy today, is bound to fail miserably.

Deploying a colorful cast of characters, Snowdon, a British journalist whose first book, Velvet Glove, Iron Fist (2009), documented the history of anti-tobacco campaigns, tells the story of prohibition's broader context. He brings to the task the stinging humor reminiscent of H.L. Mencken, whom he quotes in describing one of the book's central villains, the Anti-Saloon League lawyer Wayne Bidwell Wheeler: "He was born with a roaring voice, and it had the trick of inflaming half-wits." Wheeler was a prototypical activist, Snowdon says, "the undisputed master of pressure politics…no one was more skillful or less scrupulous in applying pressure to wavering politicians."

Just as it is today, Ohio was a battleground state in the early 1900s, when Wheeler targeted popular Republican Gov. Myron T. Herrick, who had the audacity to challenge provisions of a prohibitionist Anti-Saloon League bill. Wheeler, Snowdon writes, held hundreds of dry rallies in favor of Herrick's opponent and "scurrilously accused Herrick of being in the pocket of the drinks industry." Seeking to make an example of the governor, Wheeler marshaled tens of thousands of churchgoers, who flooded into the polls and bounced Herrick out of office. 

The result? Practical political hypocrisy on the issue of alcohol. Wheeler's effort, Snowdon explains, was "a bleak warning to wet politicians that it was safest to drink in private and support prohibition in public.…Politicians knew that they could placate their tormentors by supporting dry laws, but they also knew they could placate drinkers by failing to enforce them." 

The wet/dry debate was a key issue in American politics for the quarter centuries before and after 1900. Issues as varied as women's suffrage, race relations, urban vs. rural life, and religious tensions all played out in the context of alcohol prohibition. 

Wheeler's mad female counterpart was known as "Christ's bulldog," the "hatchet-wielding vigilante" Carrie Amelia Moore, whose 1877 marriage of convenience to David Nation gave her a "striking name that she viewed as a sign of providence." Arriving in officially dry Wichita, Kansas, on January 21, 1901, Carrie A. Nation assumed leadership of the militant wing of the so-called temperance movement, declaring loudly, "Men of Wichita, this is the right arm of God and I am destined to wreck every saloon in your city!" Together with three Woman's Christian Temperance Union colleagues, Snowdon writes, "she set to work on two 'murder shops' with rocks, iron rods and hatchets, only stopping when the owner of the second saloon put a revolver to her head." Vandalizing illegal saloons didn't get Nation arrested, but attacking a policeman in a hotel lobby eventually did. "Showing considerable leniency, the chief of police released the teetotal delinquent on bail on the condition that she smash no more saloons until noon the following day. Nation's first act as a free woman was to stand on the steps of the police station and inform the waiting crowd that she would recommence her reign of terror as soon as the clock struck twelve." As it turned out, she could not wait even that long.

Nation, who was widely believed to suffer from mental illness, may not have been a typical prohibitionist, but her antics made her one of the more conspicuous ones. Her visibility allowed outlets such as The New York Times to position themselves as moderate by condemning her tactics but not her underlying stance. 

Today's prohibitionists are less colorful but no less determined. Consider the sad story of psychopharmacologist David Nutt's brief term as chairman of the British Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. Shortly after he was appointed to the position in May 2008, the Sun reported that Nutt thought Ecstasy and LSD should be removed from the legal category ostensibly reserved for the most dangerous drugs, kicking off a Fleet Street frenzy.

Instead of backing down, Nutt doubled down. In a satirical article published by the Journal of Psychopharmacology in January 2009, he analyzed "an addiction called 'Equasy' that kills ten people a year, causes brain damage and has been linked to the early onset of Parkinson's disease." Nut added that Equasy "releases endorphins, can create dependence and is responsible for over 100 road traffic accidents every year." 

Had Nutt not revealed that Equasy was simply the time-honored sport of horseback riding, activists certainly would have rushed to introduce a ban. Nutt pointed out that since Equasy causes acute harm to one out of 350 riders, it is far riskier than Ecstasy, for which the fraction is one out of 10,000. His point, of course, was that prohibition has less to do with risk than with the importance society attaches to a risky activity. As Snowdon puts it, "If the cultural baggage is put to one side, and activities are assessed on the basis of mortality rather than morality, there are glaring inconsistencies in the way laws deal with different hazards." In October 2009, British Home Secretary Alan Johnson fired Nutt for failing to recognize that "his role is to advise rather than criticise."

While The Art of Suppression does not include a chapter on marijuana legalization, Snowdon leaves no doubt about his position on the issue. "Legal highs may not be as good as the real thing," he writes, "and they are often more dangerous, but at least users don't have to worry about being arrested." 

Snowdon describes a cycle in which so-called "killer drugs" receive an inordinate amount of tabloid media attention, driving up consumer interest until the substance is finally banned based on sensationalistic claims about its dangers. Yet as soon as one chemical is banned, a newer one—often more dangerous—is created to elude the ban. "In the restless pursuit of hedonistic diversions," Snowdon writes, "human beings will try almost any substance if more appealing avenues of pleasure are closed off." 

In addition to sardonic humor, Snowdon offers new reporting on how distorted science and unfounded health claims are driving lesser-known prohibitions in the modern world, such as the 1986 European ban on all oral tobacco products, including Swedish snus. Snowdon documents in detail how a 2003 scientific report funded by the European Commission and the Swedish National Institute of Public Health, intended to provide legal and scientific justification for the ban, was altered after leaving the hands of the scientists who wrote it. Among the many questionable editorial changes in the report was one that glossed over the fact that snus, unlike less refined oral tobacco products, does not cause oral cancer. While the original version said "there can be no doubt that the current ban on oral tobacco is highly arbitrary," that phrase was missing from the published report. 

In response to accumulating evidence supporting the use of snus as a harm-reducing alternative to cigarettes, supporters of the E.U. ban have become more brazen. Based on information from Asa Lundquist, the tobacco control manager for the Swedish National Institute of Public Health, the Swedish press reported that snus (which remains legal in Sweden) causes impotence and infertility. Luckily, Swedes, who have suffered through decades of similar scares, insisted on seeing the study behind the allegations. As it turns out, the scare itself was impotent. The supposed source, the Karolinska Institute, admitted "there is no such study." Rather, "we have a hypothesis and plan to conduct a study among snus users after the new year."     

Here in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to exercise its authority to ban menthol cigarettes, even though studies repeatedly have found that they are no more harmful than non- mentholated cigarettes. Drunk with power, regulators and those encouraging them are using catchy slogans such as "Menthol: it helps the poison go down easier." 

Prohibitionists ignore or belittle concerns that a ban on menthol cigarettes would turn citizens into criminals, increase unregulated youth access to cigarettes, and even encourage people to make their own mentholated cigarettes (all it takes is a regular cigarette, a cough drop, and a ziplock bag). 

It is hard to miss the similarities between current prohibition campaigns and their historical predecessors. The Woman's Christian Temperance Union's "stated desire was to 'reform, so far as possible, by religious, ethical, and scientific means the drinking classes.'?" Likewise today, says Snowdon, self-righteous activists and their allies in government do not seek to improve public health by following the dictates of science but rather use pseudoscientific arguments and "subtle deceit" to advance laws that dictate how we live.

It is easy now, as Ken Burns has masterfully done, to ridicule the prohibition of alcohol. But Snowdon does the heavy lifting of catching modern-day Carrie Nations in the act. Despite a long history of failure, the public always seems ready to enlist in prohibitionist campaigns, perhaps believing, as Snowdon puts it, that "utopia is only ever one ban away."

Jeff Stier is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C.

NEXT: Safety First

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  1. God I need a drink

    1. Oh wait, that’s been banned by agricultural city-Statists, even though gamboling about plain and forest, hunting and living off the land, is fun — and farming is not.

      But the Needs of the Many City-Statists outweigh the Freedoms of the Few Non-State bands and tribes.

      1. Besides, you wouldn’t want to get eaten by a bear in the woods, dear. City-Statism is the prescription for such fears.

        1. Living off the land is ‘fun’ until you’re killed by someone or something that does it better.

          1. thank you, dearie Brian, for spreading fear like that — it certainly is a good for getting people to accept city-Statism

            Even if it isn’t true, city-Statist lies are so much fun.

            The current literature consistently reports that until the final stages of the Paleolithic Age?until just prior to the present 10,000-year era of domestication?there is no conclusive evidence that any tools or hunting weapons were used against humans at all.

            Arthur Ferrill, The Origins of War from the Stone Age to Alexander
            the Great (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1985), p. 16.

            1. You’re welcome. 🙂

            2. of course there’s very little evidence of anything from that era…such poor record keepers…

              1. …what’s the difference? LOL

      2. No farming means no booze, dumbass. Whom do you think is growing all that hops and grain?

        1. Only agricultural City-Statist feel the need to get wasted and try to forget the curse of constant, repetitive drudgery.

          1. Then why are you being a hypocrite and using a computer and books?

            1. hypocrite

              1. No one forced you to buy a computer so you could spout your bullshit, Godeski. Big difference.

                1. No one forced you to drive on public roads, Sy, so you could spout your bullshit.

                  1. Oh no. “Roads!”. Ah, yes. Roads created and paid for with local tax-payer supported municipal bonds = forcing you to buy a computer. Captain False Equivalency: It’s cool I’m into redheads too. Try harder, you fat goatee’d fuck.

      3. The Needs of the Many 7 billion City-Statists outweigh the Freedoms of the Few Non-State bands and tribes.

        So no freedom to gambol about plain and forest for you!

        1. So tell me again why your tribe of rugged huntsmen hasn’t taken back the great gamboling plain from the domesticated poodles.

          1. A professional violence class, war-fighters, is the result of agricultural city-Statist division of labor.

            1. In other words, you’re scared. All things considered, that makes sense. Much easier to whine on the Internet than put your money where your mouth is.

              Agricultural city-state screed about money in 3…2…

              1. All things considered, that makes sense, since you’re an agricultural city-STATIST at heart.

            2. “A professional violence class, war-fighters, is the result of agricultural city-Statist division of labor.”

              Good. The world is a violent place. People who can deal with that tend to come in more handy than people who gambol about the fields and woods like little glittering pixies.

              1. The world wasn’t a violent place, until agricultural city-STATISM came along, dumbshit.

                The current literature consistently reports that until the final stages of the Paleolithic Age?until just prior to the present 10,000-year era of domestication?there is no conclusive evidence that any tools or hunting weapons were used against humans at all.

                Arthur Ferrill, The Origins of War from the Stone Age to Alexander
                the Great (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1985), p. 16.

                1. So humans didn’t die? Or are you just saying animals didn’t have the capabilities to construct and work tools? You seem to be saying that people only die when killed by other people.

                  1. So humans didn’t die…

                    Good lord, how the hell did you come up with complete and utter bullshit like that?

                    Care to talk sense?

                2. Violence is not just what man does. Accidents are violent. Natural diasters are violent. Those trained to deal with violence are better prepaired for real life. Better than the glittering pixies gamboling about the plains and forrests.

                  1. Brother Grimm is a glittering pixie who has appeared from Free Republic, and he’s swingin’ hard-core butch today.

                    Sorry, but you can’t conflate natural disasters with criminal aggression like murder and war.

                    Nice try though. Come back when you have put your thinking cap on. Maybe change out the battery?

                    1. Uh huh.

                    2. I’m very fat.

                3. Well in the man made weapon ere after 10,000 years of decay it’s hard to tell if a man was killed from a blow to the head by a rock from another person or if the body was simply crushed by the earth that covered him.

                  1. “in the man made”
                    should have wrote “before the man made”

                  2. Because the scholarly literature doesn’t bullshit like you.

            3. Yeah, American Indians were never violent and never had wars before whitie came along! Uh huh.

              1. Wrong, dipshit. Violence is associated with domestication and agriculture, even in Native Americans, as it is worldwide. Read.

                It is not only among Apache groups, for example, that the most ritualized were the most agricultural,19 but that so often ritual has mainly to do with agriculture and warfare, which are often very closely linked.20 It is not uncommon to find warfare itself seen as a means of enhancing the fertility of cultivated ground. Ritual regulation of production and belligerence means that domestication has become the decisive factor. “The emergence of systematic warfare, fortifications, and weapons of destruction,” says Hassan, “follows the path of agriculture.”21

                19 James L. Haley, Apaches: A History and Culture Portrait (Garden
                City, NY: Doubleday, 1981), pp. 95-96.
                20 Roy A. Rappaport, Pigs for the Ancestors: Ritual in the Ecology of
                a New Guinea People (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967) p. 234, for example.
                21 Quoted by Robert Kuhlken, “Warfare and Intensive Agriculture in
                Fiji,” in Chris Gosden and Jon Hather, eds., The Prehistory of Food:
                Appetites for Change (New York: Routledge, 1999), p. 271. Works
                such as Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization (New York:
                Oxford University Press, 1996) and Pierre Clastres, Archaeology of
                Violence (New York: Semiotext(e), 1994) somehow manage to overlook
                this point.

                quoted from:
                The Origins of War
                John Zerzan

                1. God, I am so grossly obese.

                  1. God, I’m so grossly obsessed with adipose tissue.

                2. So head hunters practice agriculture?

                3. And, of course, our intrepid gamboler just walks past one absolute no-sell for gamboling primitivism. A minarchist libertarian post-industrial state can survive amongst hostile states. A hunter-gatherer tribe cannot.

                  For a hunter-gatherer group to survive, at minimum, it must either hope that no agricultural states form (historically stupid), use force to suppress agricultural states from forming, or hope those states are libertarian…

        2. “So no freedom to gambol about plain and forest for you!”

          Oh well.

          1. Oh well, libertarianism isn’t really about freedom anyway.

            Freedom is just a debate convenience to use on occasion, when it suits.

            Libertarianism is really about grabbing more shit, and whitewashing the aggression necessary to do it.

            1. Uh huh.

            2. I gambol soooo much but I just can’t seem to slim down! Damn City-STATIST corn subsidies making me all fat and gross.

              I hate everything.

      4. even though gamboling about plain and forest, hunting and living off the land, is fun — and farming is not

        I wonder how much real experience you have with that lifestyle, as opposed to reading about it or seeing it in Disney movies.

        In any case, I very much doubt that this continent could support 300+ million people in the gamboling lifestyle. Most of the people here now would have to go somewhere else. How do you propose to accomplish that?

        And what makes you think that you’ll be one of the 1% that’s allowed to stay and gambol?

        1. It cannot be reasoned with. Why is this idiot so hard for everyone to resist? It’s the same shit every day.

          1. It’s like watching a silly movie. Sometimes I’m just in the mood for it.

            Apropos to the main topic of the thread, in a way.

          2. Besides, it is probably frantically searching for something to copy ‘n’ paste as we speak. That amuses me.

        2. I wonder how much experience you have with a libertarian society, other than reading about it in poorly written science fiction novels.

          Oh, by the way, the empirical evidence for The Original Society fills volumes of scholarly literature.

      5. “even though gamboling about plain and forest, hunting and living off the land, is fun”



          1. *choking*


        2. laugh, libertard, laugh

          “The life of an Indian is a continual holiday…” ~Thomas Paine

          1. So, why are you sitting in your mother’s basement and not living out your dream?

            Don’t give me the city-statist lockdown crap. There’s hundreds of thousands of acres of land out west that have nobody on it, where you can get lost in the wilderness for years without finding another person. Timothy Treadwell did it. So have countless other people who wanted to “get back to nature”. So could you.

            Unless you are afraid. Afraid that life in the wild isn’t nearly as easy as you think it would be, and you don’t want to give up your Cheetos and streaming internet porn.

      6. Without city-states and agriculture alcohol never would have existed.

  2. I abstain from all stimulants and approve this message.

    1. Before I am corrected,”stimulants” broadly defined, including depressants (go figure).

      1. Does your definition include sugar rushes?

        1. Yup. But my freedom to refrain from substance-abuse ends where the atmosphere begins.

          1. Credo:

            …bards love wine, mead, narcotics, coffee, tea, opium, the fumes of sandal-wood and tobacco, or whatever other species of animal exhilaration. All men avail themselves of such means as they can, to add this extraordinary power to their normal powers; and to this end they prize conversation, music, pictures, sculpture, dancing, theatres, travelling, war, mobs, fires, gaming, politics, or love, or science, or animal intoxication, which are several coarser or finer quasi-mechanical substitutes for the true nectar, which is the ravishment of the intellect by coming nearer to the fact. These are auxiliaries to the centrifugal tendency of a man, to his passage out into free space, and they help him to escape the custody of that body in which he is pent up, and of that jail-yard of individual relations in which he is enclosed. Hence a great number of such as were professionally expressors of Beauty, as painters, poets, musicians, and actors, have been more than others wont to lead a life of pleasure and indulgence; all but the few who received the true nectar; and, as it was a spurious mode of attaining freedom, as it was an emancipation not into the heavens, but into the freedom of baser places, they were punished for that advantage they won, by a dissipation and deterioration. But never can any advantage be taken of nature by a trick. The spirit of the world, the great calm presence of the creator, comes not forth to the sorceries of opium or of wine. The sublime vision comes to the pure and simple soul in a clean and chaste body. That is not an inspiration which we owe to narcotics, but some counterfeit excitement and fury. Milton says, that the lyric poet may drink wine and live generously, but the epic poet, he who shall sing of the gods, and their descent unto men, must drink water out of a wooden bowl. For poetry is not `Devil’s wine,’ but God’s wine. It is with this as it is with toys. We fill the hands and nurseries of our children with all manner of dolls, drums, and horses, withdrawing their eyes from the plain face and sufficing objects of nature, the sun, and moon, the animals, the water, and stones, which should be their toys. So the poet’s habit of living should be set on a key so low and plain, that the common influences should delight him. His cheerfulness should be the gift of the sunlight; the air should suffice for his inspiration, and he should be tipsy with water. That spirit which suffices quiet hearts, which seems to come forth to such from every dry knoll of sere grass, from every pine-stump, and half-imbedded stone, on which the dull March sun shines, comes forth to the poor and hungry, and such as are of simple taste. If thou fill thy brain with Boston and New York, with fashion and covetousness, and wilt stimulate thy jaded senses with wine and French coffee, thou shalt find no radiance of wisdom in the lonely waste of the pinewoods.

            (To coin a phrase.)

            Ancillary credo: “Jews don’t drink, because it dulls the pain.” ~ Woody Allen

            1. (To coin a phrase.)

              Ralph Waldo Emerson is alive and posting as “anarch”? How weird.

  3. Menthol: it helps the poison go down easier.

    Bull. Fucking. Shit.

    In fact, if there were only menthols, I likely would never have started smoking. Shit is just plain nasty.

    1. Is that racist?

      1. I dunno, are you implying that only white people smoke menthol??

        1. Depends on how you define “white.”



          And the quip was invoking a site-local professional-victim meme.

          1. Depends on how you define “white.”

            Funny, I thought that was just a silly stereotype, like the watermelon thing or the non-swimming. But no:

            “Additionally, menthol cigarettes are purchased disproportionately by African-American smokers, with 80% of African-American smokers consuming menthol cigarettes primarily.”

            1. I always smoked menthols, and I’m so white I’m pink.

              I had a practical reason, though. Menthols reduced the amount of cigarettes people bummed off of me about 70%.

              1. Why did you stop? Health? Cost? Hated the socialising that comes with smoking? Serious question…

                1. I was never a heavy smoker in the first place (two or three days to finish a pack) and during a bout of bronchitis, I decided to give it up. Never bought a pack again and went on with my life.

              2. That 70% is so close to the 80% that it must be racist. Must be.

                1. fuck you damn niggers

            2. I had alwas understood menthol-preference to be “a black thang,” too (though I went through a menthol phase myself before having a good opportunity to quit).

              1. My menthol phase coincided with my ecstasy phase. Go figure

                1. Well MY ecstasy phase coincided with my Vicks VapoRub phase. Go figure!

    2. And white hipster douchebags disproportionately smoke cloves. Meh.

      (I went through both menthol and clove phases when I smoked. And Drum.)

  4. In the regulation of cigarettes, there was a remarkable change in the position of the enlightened classes. At first, smoking was a gesture of defiance to the fundamentalists, a feminist gesture of defiance of patriarchy. The public-relations guy, Bernays, promoted this image, but he wasn’t exactly the only one.

    Now, the fundies are more mellow about smoking, but the enlightened classes have relegated it to the same status that Lutheranism had in Inquisition-era Spain.

    I don’t think cigarettes have gotten more dangerous, fashions have just changed.

  5. I have often challenged drug warriors to give me an excuse to keep politically incorrect chemicals illegal that could not also be used as an excuse to prohibit alcohol.

    As of yet there have been no replies other than ad hominem attacks.

    1. My sister-in-law replies by claiming alcohol use is hallowed by time. She doesn’t react well when I point out this is factually inaccurate. She also hates my pointing out that she is walking proof that one can safely use a pleasurable mind-altering substance to which some get addicted. But she’s too polite to do ad hominem. At least to my face, at any rate.

      1. People who appeal to tradition should have a bucket of leeches dumped on them the next time they go to the emergency room.

        1. “natural” rights
          “common” law
          “founding” fathers
          “sound” money

          1. “scare” quotes

            1. “fucking” retard

      2. I remember seeing a documentary about a archeological dig in Central Asia where cannabis remains were discovered. I also suspect that coca plant usage goes back thousands of years in South America. With respect to your sister, to believe that her ancestors did not take any of these, is naive in the extreme.

        1. Yep, naive and woefully uninformed, but she’s not unusual. Like many she’s swallowed the whole drugs are bad, mmmkay, thing, and prohibition’s for teh childrenz, and that trumps principles, history, and pharmacology. Lovely person, otherwise, just needs to have her mind opened a bit more – and I’nm doing my bit, one argument at a time.

          1. If she is a nice person, it probably is better not to push things. Better to come here and have the argument with complete strangers, that way your Christmas lunch will be peaceful and tasty (nothing spoils gatherings more than discussing politics and religion).

      3. There is evidence that the first known civilization was based upon the cultivation of barley.
        Barley being the main ingredient in beer.
        So she is right in that alcohol is the root of civilization.
        However I do not see that as a valid excuse to keep one mind altering chemical legal while locking people up in cages for using others.

        1. I could have swore I’d read an article that alcohol was the cause of groups of humans to first start to band together into something resembling civilization.

          If so Gamboling Fucktard is screwed. I will skullfuck the people who want to take my medicine from me.

        2. One of my pro arguments for alcohol is that in the very recent past and in many back woods countries of the world alcohol is the only clean source of drinkable liquid since the alcohol kills many of the contaminates in it.

          1. the only clean source of drinkable liquid

            In the realm of agricultural city-Statism with its filth and pollution — true.

            How do you suppose humans lived for millions of years before alcohol?

            1. How do you suppose humans lived for millions of years before alcohol?

              solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short

            2. They didn’t, they died at terrible rates due to undrinkable water.

              1. Then they should’ve gamboled their bitch asses to someplace that sold bottled water.

          2. alcohol is the only clean source of drinkable liquid
            since the alcohol kills many of the contaminates in it
            Kinda but not really.
            In the case of beer it is sanitary because it is boiled before being fermented, and the hops are as much of a preservative as a flavoring agent.
            Both beer and wine are slightly acidic, wine more so than beer, and microbes that would make you sick do not like acidic conditions.
            Then there’s the fact that fermentation itself uses up much what the microbes would eat while crowding out their populations.

            There’s a lot more to it than just the alcohol.

        3. There is evidence that the first known civilization was based upon the cultivation of barley.

          There’s also lots of evidence that even hunter-gatherers liked to expand their horizons, up to and including some pretty mind-blasting psychedelics.

          1. That would explain why our resident hunter-gatherer’s posts read like a bad acid trip.

      4. My sister-in-law replies by claiming alcohol use is hallowed by time.

        How about reminding her that hitting on one’s sister-in-law is also hallowed by time?

        1. Hah! I’d try that line but as I’m a straight female she might not find this a convincing debating point. But thanks, I’ll keep it up my sleeve

    2. Luckily, libertarians use many more logical fallacies other than ad hominem attacks.

      1. Care to identify a logical fallacy in any libertarian’s argument against the War on Drugs?

        1. Care to identify a valid argument in any libertarian’s bluster against Gamboling about plain and forest?

          1. The argument is simple, some people would prefer to farm (I do), it’s called making a personal choice.

              1. As of yet there have been no replies other than ad hominem attacks.

            1. Thieves and dictators and rapists and con-men can all say the same as you just did:

              “The argument is simple, some people would prefer to [steal, rape, plunder, embezzle], it’s called making a personal choice.

              You left off the aggression necessary and observed all throughout agricultural history.

              Oh, but Libetertarians are always whitewashing the aggression necessary, when it’s convenient to their profits, and petulant about aggression when it’s not.

              1. Only a twisted fuck would equate rape and murder with wanting to plant some crops to survive the winter.

            2. Like a stray animal, if you feed it it will keep coming back.

              1. Is it like a stray animal in other ways? Like, will it get hit by a car? Or impounded and put down sent to live on a farm?

                1. …unmasked again. Look at ’em masturbate to the gruesome like a bunch of neo-con Freepers.

                  1. masturbate to the gruesome

                    Nice band name.

                    1. I think “gruesome masturbation” would work better.

                      Especially for some prog-rock guitar-wankfest.

                  2. …unmasked again. Look at ’em masturbate to the joke like a bunch of jason godeskys.

                    1. Only a Libertard could conflate the significance of the two.

                    2. This is like the worst chat room ever.

                    3. I am intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

          2. Sure. The historical record has shown that agricultural city states formed. At least some of those states were hostile and aggressively expansionist. (Whether aggressive expansion is a necessary part of agricultural civilization is immaterial to my argument; you have not proven that it is so, but even if you were to do so it would not weaken my argument).

            A hunter-gatherer culture cannot stand against an agricultural city state that is aggressively expansionist. You admit this. Therefore once an agricultural city state forms naturally (as happened historically) the hunter-gatherer culture exists entirely at the mercy of any agricultural city state nearby.

            A simple prisoner’s dilemma game theory problem results. If both societies choose hunter-gatherer or both choose agriculture, the result is effectively a draw. If one chooses hunter-gatherer and the other chooses agricultural civilization, the hunter-gatherer loses. Therefore the only way not to lose is to choose agricultural civilization.

            This says nothing about the inherent ‘goodness’ or ‘benefits’ of agriculture or gamboling. Again, given the assumption that you admit that hunter-gatherers can’t defeat an agricultural civilization and the historical observation that some societies chose agricultural civilization, hunter-gatherer society is obsolete as soon as agricultural society is possible.

    3. I like to challenge people by asking why we have sex education in schools, but nobody would think of having similar alcohol education based on the fact that we know they’re going to drink so teach them to do it responsibly.

  6. the case that Burns seems to go out of his way to avoid

    Golly, what a surprise.

  7. Credo:


    1. Shorter Credo: Fuck bitches, get money.

  8. Snowdon’s writing is, as ever, entertaining, and his historical approach is something which is unmatched! He has explained in detail how these so called bans come into existence, the factors & people who instigate them. In the final chapter he has given his prescription for a more equable and tolerant approach, which if followed in principal could really help.

    Overall i loved reading this book..

  9. The prohibitionists always resort to the same pathetic scare tactics,

    “It will make you go blind! You’ll have hair on your palms! You could put an eye out!”

    1. “You’ll get eaten by a bear!”

    2. “You’ll get eaten by a bear!”

      1. Fail. People have been mauled by bears. The danger is exaggerated by those with no knowledge of wildlife, that is true. But the hazards of the outdoors do exist.

        It’s not an argument for avoiding the outdoors; I go frequently myself. But a sensible person is aware of the hazards and prepares properly for them.

        1. Pepper spray and bells, right?

        2. Isn’t it like a felony and stuff to carry a handgun while you gambol in the woods?

          1. It isn’t in my state.

            1. I’m pretty sure it is on federal land.

              1. Actually, it isn’t. The law on that was recently changed. The change was attached to a bill regarding, IIRC, credit card regulation so the Democrats were really pissed.

                Basically, on federal land you have to follow the laws of the state that the land is in.

                Of course it doesn’t apply to federal facilities like military bases, post offices, and the like. Likewise, although it applies to national parks it doesn’t apply to facilities in the parks like visitor’s centers.

                1. And the original law that prohibited gun possession was only in national parks. Forest Service and BLM land has always been open to hunting and target shooting.

          2. Only if they know you have a gun. That’s why mine is concealed so that I don’t need a permit. what they don’t know can’t hurt them or me.

        3. City-Statists use fear of wilderness as apologetics for City-Statism.

          That’s the point you’re dancing around.

          1. You wouldn’t last 3 days in the actual wilderness. You’d have to gambol that 350 pound frame around while searching for berries and grubs. You’d get hungry and start begging to be brought back to the agricultural city-state where you’d voraciously devour half the $7.99 buffet at the Golden Coral.

            1. Nice city-Statists apology there for City-Statism, Juice.

              Good ol’ Fear of Wilderness.

              You’re psychologically projecting your lack of personal responsibility to live a Non-State society lifeway.

              1. Dude. Mensa? Seriously?

          2. Yes, fear of nature is a popular argument for statists. Indeed, fear in general is pretty much their stock in trade.

          3. Godeski, what’s up with your wife’s broad fucking nose.. I guess it’s cute since you both have fat fucking cheeks.. that should buy you both a couple days when you realize you’re going to freeze to death gamboling about Pittsburgh.

  10. It would have been nice to see a mention of the FDAs intention to apply the Tobacco Control act to premium cigars, especially in light of the bills now in both houses to prevent such over-reach. The FDAs proposed rule-making will destroy many small business and thousands of jobs. See http://dailycaller.com/2011/11…..ry-agenda/

  11. It’s frustrating that reason.com has some of the best articles, but among the worst discussion communities I read. The levels of crazy, irrelevant, immature and illogical posts makes thoughtful discussion of the articles almost impossible, in many cases.

    1. Welcome to the world of White Indian, aka the man that can’t keep a handle. His schtick is Insane Troll Logic.

    2. Yet here you are…..

    3. Welcome to the internet, Turdbuster.

    4. Come for the articles, stay for the crazy.

      They should totally use that as a banner ad.

    5. It will only get worse, I’m afraid. They closed all comments over at Cafe Hayek. I’m expecting some of the trollier trolls from that site to land over here and start shitting up these threads.

    6. We’re the abuse in news, views, and abuse.

  12. That dude seems a bit full of himself to me man.


    1. I envy the anon-bot, the only poster that the Queen of All Trolls leaves alone.

  13. Burns’ Prohibition perfectly exemplified how trying to ban “unhealthy” choices causes worse problems than the “unhealthy” choice itself.

    What was amazing was Burns’ refusal to connect prohibition to the WoD. His reason amounted to “Uh, drugs are different.”

    1. Like the poet said:

      All the money in the world,
      Spent on feelin’ good.

  14. Well, another potentially interesting thread covered with pixelated diarrhea.

    C’mon, server squirrels. Grow a pair. Drop the hammer.

  15. Menthol in cigarettes acts as it does in cough drops – it stops coughing. So menthol cigarettes reduce smoker’s cough.

  16. Anti Libertarian Alarmist — “What about young women and children!! there is always a demand for them!”


    what a bummer.

  17. With breasts that seem to defy gravity Gabriella was surely destined to be a nude model. One hundred percent natural, Gabriella tells us she inherited her incredible assets from her mother. Although mum’s are apparently twice the size!

    This Brazilian beauty is as passionate and temperamental as they come and has lots of life experience for her age. She loves to dance, can mix the best cocktails and at the end of a long day likes to relax by sucking on a fine cigar! The only problem for Gabriella appears to be that she is unlucky in love…

    Although established as a popular model for car shows around the world this was her first time ever doing full nudes. Gabriella however took it all in her stride – as the results show!

    And you won’t want to miss her videos, when the camera started rolling Gabriella turned into a wild cat in the springtime.

  18. Nice article, but you do know that Ken Burns himself could not (or would not) see the parallel to current day healthist prohibitions. Instead the parallel they see is to how we in 2011 are supposedly being mean to immigrants (as in the German immigrants being persecuted during the other prohibition). In the next breath Ken Burns says Prohibition was caused by “Protestants” forgetting of course German immigrants were mostly Lutheran (as in Martin Luther, duh).

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  21. Throughout history, religion and conservative ideology has always been the guilty party when it comes to taking away the rights of those they can.

  22. Nice article. Reason Mag, can you please clarify this sentence?

    “Snowdon describes a cycle in which so-called “killer drugs” receive an inordinate amount of tabloid media attention, driving up consumer interest until the substance is finally banned based on sensationalistic claims about its dangers. ”

    I’m wondering whether “consumer” means “consumer of substances” or “citizen” here.

  23. MADD is the modern incarnation, perhaps the reincarnation, of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.

  24. “He was born with a roaring voice, and it had the trick of inflaming half-wits.”

    Mencken might have said this about Wayne B. Wheeler, but he certainly and memorably said those exact words about William Jennings Bryan.

  25. “The freedom of the individual must include the freedom to opt not only for what is beneficial to him, but also for what harms or injures. What sort of freedom would it be that allowed us only to choose what is good for us?” –Mario Vargas Llosa

    Or even more to the point, what sort of freedom would it be that allowed us only to choose what we are told to choose?

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