Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Pointlessness of Prohibition (Pt. I)

Last of the breed: Legendary Frontier Marshal Bill Tilghman, a casualty of our nation's first "War on Drugs."

On this day (December 5) in 1933, the 21st Amendment was ratified by Utah, thus bringing to a merciful end one of our nation's most deranged experiments in social control: The federal ban on “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States....”

It is a pity that this exercise in civic derangement, which began in 1920, hadn't ended a decade earlier. Had reason reasserted itself by 1923, numerous tragedies could have been avoided, including the murder of legendary frontier lawman Bill Tilghman by a drunken, corrupted prohibition agent named Wiley Lynn.

At the time of his death in November 1924, Tilghman was seventy-five, and had spent a half-century in law enforcement. As a teenage buffalo hunter, Tilghman had dropped thousands of the prairie bison, an accomplishment not to be mocked even though he and other hunters were being used (often unwittingly) in a federal scheme devised by General Sherman to herd the Plains Indians into reservations. During his hunts the young Tilghman made the acquaintance of Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, and others with whom he would later collaborate as members of the legendary Dodge City Peace Commission.

During the 1890s, Tilghman, as a federal marshal in Oklahoma, led the effort that defeated the Doolin-Dalton gang; he single-handedly captured gang leader Bill Doolin in 1895. Widely and properly admired for his insane courage (“Tilghman would charge hell with a bucket,” said an admiring Teddy Roosevelt), the marshal was also respected for his kindness and integrity. “The man I consider it an honor to have known and to have ridden with was Bill Tilghman,” wrote George Bolds, a widely respected frontier marshal in his own right. “Wyatt Earp was a great Western marshal, but to my mind, Bill Tilghman was greater, both in character and in deeds.”

After a brief career in politics and a short stint as a Hollywood consultant, Tilghman was dragged out of retirement in 1924 to serve one last term as a city marshal. At the time the venerable lawman was dying from cancer, something known only to himself and his intimate friends (including, of course, his second wife, Zoe; his first wife Flora had died several years earlier). Oklahoma Governor Martin Trapp gave Tilghman the assignment to clean up Crockett, an oil town widely reputed to be the “wickedest city in Oklahoma.”

Cromwell was dominated by a criminal syndicate headquartered in Oklahoma City. Like many other murderous cliques of its sort, the OKC mob was profiting handsomely as a result of prohibition, which led to vastly inflated prices for sub-par booze. Killian, the mob boss who ran Cromwell, diverted a portion of the profits into the pockets of federal Prohibition Agent Lynn.

Tilghman, aware that the federal agent was in the pocket of the mob, had sharp words with Lynn on more than one occasion, generally after the Fed had released a criminal suspect the marshal had put in jail. Tilghman was also aware that the mob had put a price on his head. Tilghman was fatally shot during an attempt to arrest and disarm a drunken Lynn on the night of November 1. Despite being identified by one of Tilghman's deputies as the one who fired the lethal shots, Lynn was acquitted of the crime he's still widely believed to have committed.

Bill Tilghman was the last of his breed, a Frontier Lawman devoted to maintaining a civic order intended to protect life and property. His murderer could be regarded as a particularly corrupt specimen of the New Model Federal Lawman, a parasite serving the whims of social engineers determined to use the State's coercive power to correct what they consider to be defects in the way others choose to live.

It's always "For the children": A 1920s-era federal propaganda poster urging compliance with the national ethanol price support program (aka Prohibition).

Biologist and political commentator Bill Walker describes Prohibition as the first federal effort to “regulate the bloodstream of all US citizens.” It was also a huge subsidy to both the criminal Underworld and the bureaucratic political class with which organized crime lives in corrupt symbiosis.

One of the little-appreciated benefits of alcohol is its use as a termagant repellent.

At the time alcohol Prohibition (what Walker calls the “federal ethanol price support program”) went into effect, the equivalent program for narcotic drugs was in its infancy. Like its long-dead sibling, the narcotic price support program, known colloquially as the “war on drugs,” has done nothing to reduce consumption of various controlled substances, but a great deal to enrich the criminal underworld and, even worse, to empower the much deadlier criminal syndicate called the State.

I'll have more to say on that subject tomorrow....


Tom Eddlem said...

Unfair! Say what you will about the wisdom of prohibition (or lack thereof, in this case), but it's unfair to compare the prohibitionist politicians with today's warriors in the "War on Drugs."

As columnist Joe Sobran has noted, those misguided idealists who voted for prohibition at least recognized the need to amend the U.S. Constitution to fight the war on booze. Politicians today don't even bother to pay lip service to the Constitution on this issue.

Thus, it's hardly a wonder that the "War on Drugs" has become a war on rights.

In my view, the War on Drugs is slightly less practical than a war against the periodic table of the elements.

dixiedog said...

It's interesting when one harkens back to the days of the Prohibition to be sure, focusing on one area of earlier Leviathan's prowess. But meanwhile, the same thing is orchestrated by today's much more expanded Leviathan in other arenas.

For example, the food police of Leviathan's NYC subsidiary has just banned trans-fat foods. The commoners probably have no qualm with that. They probably think that it must be a good ban because it's for my health. Same with smoking. But not alcohol? Not Ritulin?

IOW, whatever big daddy gov and mass media/entertainment says is "good" or "OK" should be fine and dandy, but whatever they say is "bad" must be bad. That's why you see so many youngsters today drinking like fish, but are cigarette-free. And with narcotics, sigh, it's the same. There are hordes of junkies out there, hooked on all kinds of drugs, just not illegal drugs. Only that it's drugs that big daddy gov says are "OK" and "safe," except with a minor caveat, of course: They require a prescription.

As Dennis Prager mentioned in a column sometime back, smokers are viewed one step up from child-molesters these days. The aggregate commoner mind today is reprobate and depraved and moral relativity reigns.

It's ALL a farce, Will. The entire mantras preached (by the state and mass-entertainment industry complex) on drugs, alcohol, abortion, homosexuality, smoking, family, etc., etc. are full of half-truths and outright lies, but all is deceptive.

What's really significant in my mind about yesterday's Prohibition and today's "Prohibitions" is that the statist commoner today, just as the statist commoner yesterday, doesn't really reject "Prohibition" by any measure, but rather is only interested in endorsing certain "Prohibitions" that mesh with the mass media and mass entertainment celeb clarion calls. For the slow, that roughly translates to:

Commoners today = favor prohibitions on fatty foods, guns, nativity scenes, public display of Ten Commandments, Bibles in public places, non-state-sanctioned (i.e. illegal and "hard") drugs, tobacco products, free speech, and so on. Much apathy.

Do NOT favor prohibitions on vice of any kind and homosexuality, some drugs (cannabis), alcohol, obscenity, open profanity, etc., etc. Much apathy.

Commoners yesterday = favored prohibitions on homosexuality, vice of any kind, obscenity, open profanity, some for/against on alcohol. Overall, little apathy.

Did NOT favor prohibitions on free speech, guns, fatty foods, tobacco products, nativity scenes, public display of Ten Commandments, Bibles in public places, etc., etc. Little apathy.

Anyway, it's quite apparent that there's obviously been a sea change in the commoner's mind in terms of what should or should not be prohibited, but NOT in the concept of Prohibition itself. There are a number of "Prohibitions" that are enacted today regularly without as much as a whimper from the commoners. Granted, they're not national "Prohibitions" yet, but nevertheless continue to happen and eventually expand. It would be laughable, except that I wasn't affected by the rightfully detested Prohibition era, but certainly will be affected by these wrongfully praised modern-era prohibitions.

Anonymous said...

Man reproduces and uses free will to create government for protection of his free will choices. He soon forgets that the government he created is an extension of the family and has no legal authority to do anything that man cannot do, all based on the Law of Man's Maker.The trick is essentially Big Notes on Refrigerators or fervent Prayer Pleas , or both, to work to get the free-will Genie back in the bottle and strengthening Families, townships, cites, and states to enforce this moral concept. Read Will Grigg and pass him on. It will help in this effort. Prohibit Moral Relativism and Situation Ethics !

Anonymous said...

The most rediculous thing in all of this is the fact in the current global drug prohibition aka the "war on drugs" the US is at the forefront of it all, do they ever learn we have to wonder.

I note a comment from the Law Enforcement Againt Prohibition website (www.leap.cc):

Al Capone
Pablo Escabar

Same Problem
Same Solution
End Prohibition

Enough said I think.