In Retrospect – Yesterday you invented a new astrological sign. Today, write your own horoscope — for the past month (in other words, as if you’d written it October 1st).
As if yesterday were not bad enough, now you want me to write about this soon-to-be-over month as if it hadn’t happened yet — but like someone had the prescience to know what would happen. And write about it like a silly newspaper astrologer.
Well, the jokes on you because I used to be one of those silly newspaper astrologers. I quickly learned no matter what twaddle I wrote, someone always thought I’d nailed their life. A soothsayer can, it would seem, do no wrong. And really, this assignment is just a version of “What did you do on your vacation” turned backwards. Or sideways. Or something.
Hocus … … … POCUS! and WHOOSH. A puff of mist rises from the crystal ball. My eyes are wide, like saucers — small saucers like those that come with demi-tasse cups.
“Madame Zthulu,” I cry, “what does this mean?”
“You will travel far and wide,” she croaks ominously. “But slowly, very slowly. You will see everything as you pass it. Your number is … ” And here she pauses and rummages in her sack to pull out a pack of cards with big numbers on them. I’m pretty sure I can see numbers on both side of the cards.
“Hey, aren’t those flash cards for learning multiplication tables … ?” I start to question her, but she cuts me off.
“HOW DARE YOU INTERRUPT MADAME ZTHULU,” she thunders. I crumble in the face of her wrath. Or is that wreath? She’s got a really nice wreath on the wall of the tent and I get up to look at it. I just love handicrafts.
“SIT!” she says, and points. “What was I saying?”
I sit. “You were going to tell me my number,” I say, humbly and quietly.
“WHAT?” She shouts. “Speak up. Don’t mumble child.” Child? She must be blind, not merely deaf.
“YOU WERE GOING TO TELL ME MY NUMBER,” I repeat.
“Right you are,” she says and pulls a cards from the pack. “Your number is 28. You will travel either 28 miles — no that can’t be right — or maybe by route 28,” and she looks at me, apparently hoping for confirmation but I shake my head. Sounds like the wrong road, but I’m probably the wrong person to ask.
“Then,” she says, certainty returning to her tone, “You will travel at 28 miles per hour and do this for many hours, many days. But the scenery will be just gorgeous, really. You’re gonna love it.”
And she puts out her hand, palm up. International soothsayer-speak for “pay me,” and I do.
As I exit her tent, I realize it’s gotten terribly foggy . I’m completely lost. Again.
Once upon a time, Americans had national fit of self-righteousness and decided alcohol was the root of all evil. To rectify the perceived problem, the nation rose up on its collective hind legs and passed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment established a legal prohibition of recreational alcoholic beverages in the United States.
The separate (but closely related) Volstead Act specified how authorities would actually enforce Prohibition, including the definition of “intoxicating liquor” — for anyone who needed an explanation.
The folks who needed an explanation were not your average Jill or Joe. Jill and Joe knew how to get drunk just fine, but apparently lawmakers, politicians and gangsters-to-be needed clarification. The gangsters needed to know what they had to do to cash in on this opportunity and the others, how to persecute people in the name of the law. Many beverages were excluded for medical and religious purposes. It was okay to get drunk as long it was accompanied by an appropriate degree of religious fervor. Or you could get a doctor’s note.
That left a lot of room — a barn door-sized hole — through which an entire generation strolled. Many people began drinking during Prohibition who had never imbibed before. Whereas previously, alcoholism had no social cachet, during prohibition it became fashionable. As with most things, making it more difficult, expensive, and illegal made it more desirable and sexy.
Regular folks, society leaders, and criminals all basked in the glow of joyous illegality. A whole criminal class was born as a result of prohibition. If that isn’t clear proof that legislating morality doesn’t work, I don’t know what is. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now. Whether the issue is booze, drugs, abortion, prayer, same-sex marriage, or term limits … law and morality don’t mix.
Passing a law limiting how many times you can elect a candidate rather than letting you vote for any candidate you want isn’t going to improve the quality of legislators. You’ll just wind up voting for a bunch of clowns and opportunists who don’t give a rat’s ass about government while dedicated potential candidates won’t bother to run because there’s no future in it. Making drugs illegal, especially marijuana, has created an entire drug culture — exactly the way making booze illegal created an entire criminal class based on rum running.
There are no fewer gay people because we make their lives difficult, any more than segregation made the world safe for stupid white people.
Illegal abortions kill not only fetuses, but their mothers too. You may not approve of abortion, but do you approve of forcing women to risk their lives to not have babies they don’t want? How is that better or more moral?
This kind of knee-jerk “lets solve social issues by making bad laws” causes a lot of pain and suffering. As often as not, you end up legislating your way into a vast sea of exciting new problems you didn’t have before.
Throughout history, laws designed to force everyone to do what someone else deems “right” have failed. Monumentally and spectacularly failed. You’d think citizens and lawmakers alike would notice this recurring theme, but remarkably, we seem unable to connect the dots.
We haven’t learned anything at all, probably because no one is aware history is repeating itself. Many of our citizens apparently don’t know any history, so how could they?
The 18th Amendment was ratified on January 16, 1919 and took effect a year later, on January 17, 1920. Immediately, the demand for liquor increased. Producers, suppliers and transporters were turned into criminals, but drinkers were not prosecuted. What could go wrong with that? The entire justice system — courts, cops and prisons — was buried under a landslide of booze-related busts. Organized crime went from being a minor group to a major social force. Progress?
Having achieved results way beyond the wildest dreams of the amendment’s creators, prohibition was repealed in 1933 via the Twenty-first Amendment, the only time in American history an amendment was repealed.
Every time I hear someone on Facebook declare how we need a constitutional amendment to solve a political or social problem, I contemplate how successfully we got rid of alcohol in 1920. No one has had a drink since.
The next time someone tells you history is meaningless, tell them without history, they are meaningless. They won’t understand what you mean, but a bit more confusion can’t hurt them. Saying it might make you feel better.
I have a lot of pictures of feet. Is that because I was born in March (Pisces)? Or because it’s the one part of us we can take pictures of because they are farthest away from our eyes?