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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Notes from the first war on drugs 


Plus ca change:

Sometime after midnight on the morning of Wednesday, February 11, 1931, Ann Arbor police observed an Oldsmobile stopping at a series of houses in the residential blocks east of the campus. At each, the driver would stay behind the wheel while a second figure, carrying an indeterminate burden, would approach the house and go inside. A few minutes later the figure would emerge from the house free of his load and reenter the car, which would move on to the next stop.

Concluding that this behavior suggested activity in violation of the constitutional prohibition of the sale and distribution of alcoholic spirits, the police pulled the car over. The driver, a teenage boy, identified himself as Shirley O'Toole, of 215 N. State. Under questioning, young O'Toole admitted that his passenger, Joseph Looney, of 104 N. Fourth, had been delivering supplies of liquor to fraternities.

Joseph Looney and Shirley O'Toole? I wonder if there can be better names for bootleggers.

Prohibition really was quite asinine.

6 Comments:

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jun 12, 01:48:00 AM:

It isn't clear if they delivered legally produced liquor or bootleg.

I can suggest many names for frat boys or anyone else who consumes liquor of unknown provenance.

Here are two.

Soontobe Sorry and Clueless Beyondadoubt

K  

By Anonymous Edward Lunny, at Fri Jun 12, 09:45:00 AM:

Equally as assinine, if not in fact more so, are those states that still, 75 years on, still, practice a form of prohibition by continuing direct state control over the distribution of alcohol. The state store system in PA, for instance, is a farce and another patronage distribution arena.  

By Blogger Georgfelis, at Fri Jun 12, 10:28:00 AM:

Perhaps if their names were Kennedy....  

By Blogger Escort81, at Fri Jun 12, 01:07:00 PM:

During my father's freshman year fall at Princeton in 1933 Prohibition was still in effect. There was plenty of bootlegged whiskey around campus and in the clubs, however. I think we still have the flask around somewhere that he used as an undergraduate.

The encouraging thing about the end of 1933 is that it demonstrates that the U.S. can undo laws -- even Constitutional Amendments -- that are passed and then turn out not to be something the people actually wanted, once it was put in practice (even if it takes another Amendment). I hope that we haven't lost that ability (and I hope Prohibition isn't the "exception that proves the rule" that structural changes can't be reversed); it might come in handy some time next decade.  

By Blogger Muddy Waters, at Fri Jun 12, 04:50:00 PM:

Prohibition really was quite asinine.

It still is  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Sat Jun 13, 11:42:00 AM:

Incomparable. The use of alcohol had been part of mainstream society for what, 5,000 years when they suddenly banned it?

Referring to modern restrictions on drug possession and use (most of which are recently discovered anyway, and many of which are much more destructive than alcohol) as the same kind of Prohibition is inaccurate.  

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