THE BEER BEAT: This humble plinth could be the spot where we memorialize the myriad victims of Prohibition.


It is imperative for the future health and well-being of the municipality that we embrace historical consciousness, hence my contention that the victims of the savage and deranged social experiment known as Prohibition — surely America’s second-worst idea ever, albeit well behind human slavery in terms of ramifications — be memorialized, preferably adjacent to a watering hole that reminds us of what the heinous teetotalers tried to take away.

This effort may well become the focus of the rest of my life. Less than a year ago, I surveyed the background:

“In a house once standing here, New Albany’s chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union advocated for Prohibition and abstinence from ‘Demon Alcohol.’ But Prohibition proved to be a disaster, and so it is vitally important that we remember the WCTU’s efforts favoring Prohibition, all the better for us to reject Prohibition, now and forever.”

Of course, my permanent departure from the New Albanian Brewing Company precludes the realization of the Prohibition memorial at the precise spot where the WCTU’s headquarters once operated; currently, this square footage serves as Bank Street Brewhouse’s outdoor seating area.

Perhaps a plaque might eventually be erected there as part of a walking tour incorporating too many vital historical insights to enumerate here. The central point remains: Prohibition was absurd, and every aspect of remembering its lessons is factually verifiable. It is non-fiction.

To return yet again to the words of Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” There needs to be a memorial to the idiocy, because it must not be forgotten.

I suspect the major problem with using the concrete plinth (circled in the photo above) as the base of a memorial art installation is that it belongs to the alley, and hence to the city. However, everything’s negotiable, and it costs nothing to ask questions. If the project is deemed feasible, then I’ll pursue it.

Until then, savor these words by H.L. Mencken.

The Prohibitionists, when they foisted their brummagem cure-all upon the country under cover of the war hysteria, gave out that their advocacy of it was based upon a Christian yearning to abate drunkenness, and so abolish crime, poverty and disease. They preached a millennium, and no doubt convinced hundreds of thousands of naive and sentimental persons, not themselves Puritans, nor even democrats. That millennium, as everyone knows, has failed to come in. Not only are crime, poverty and disease undiminished, but drunkenness itself, if the police statistics are to be believed, has greatly increased. The land rocks with the scandal. Prohibition has made the use of alcohol devilish and even fashionable, and so vastly augmented the number of users. The young of both sexes, mainly innocent of the cup under license, now take to it almost unanimously. In brief, Prohibition has not only failed to work the benefits that its proponents promised in 1917; it has brought in so many new evils that even the mob has turned against it. But do the Prohibitionists admit the fact frankly, and repudiate their original nonsense? They do not. On the contrary, they keep on demanding more and worse enforcement statutes — that is to say, more and worse devices for harassing and persecuting their opponents. The more obvious the failure becomes, the more shamelessly they exhibit their genuine motives. In plain words, what moves them is the psychological aberration called sadism. They lust to inflict inconvenience, discomfort, and, whenever possible, disgrace upon the persons they hate — which is to say, upon everyone who is free from their barbarous theological superstitions, and is having a better time in the world than they are. They cannot stop the use of alcohol, nor even appreciably diminish it, but they can badger and annoy everyone who seeks to use it decently, and they can fill the jails with men taken for purely artificial offences, and they can get satisfaction thereby for the Puritan yearning to browbeat and injure, to torture and terrorize, to punish and humiliate all who show any sign of being happy. And all this they can do with a safe line of policemen and judges in front of them; always they can do it without personal risk.

“Simply substitute ‘War on Drugs’ for ‘Prohibition,’ and see what you think.”