Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/247

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233
SHOULD PROHIBITORY LAWS BE ABOLISHED?

and the statement that it is the greatest peril to modern civilization has a basis in actual experience.

It appears to be a conclusion, which all scientific and sociological progress is verifying, that a more complete knowledge of alcohol will demand some form of prohibitory laws; whether like those existing at present or not it is impossible now to say. Such laws will not depend on any sentiment or any theory, but will be founded on demonstrated truths, and the necessity for self-preservation. It will not be a question of Maine law, or whether prohibition prohibits, or whether any party or society or public sentiment favors or opposes it. Action will be taken on the same principle that a foul water supply is cleansed or a sanitary nuisance removed. The questions of high or low license, local option, and all the various schemes of partial or complete restriction, with the vast machinery of moral forces that seek relief by the church, the pledge, the prayer, and the temperance society, will be forgotten, and the evil will be dealt with in the summary way in which enlightened communities deal with other ascertained causes of dangerous disease.

While the average citizen may be slow to unlearn and change his views about alcohol, he is ever quick to recognize and provide for dangers that peril his personal interests. Show this man that every place where spirits are sold as a beverage is a "poison center" and every drinker is a suicidal maniac, whose presence is dangerous to the happiness and peace of the community, and he will at once become a practical prohibitionist. This is the direction toward which all temperance agitation is drifting.

Sanitary boards, government commissions, and hospital authorities must gather the facts from very wide sources, and the generalizations from these will supplement and sustain the laboratory and hospital work and point out conclusions that will be real advances in this field. Inebriate asylums (at present obscure and bitterly opposed) will become very important aids in the study of the causes of inebriety. Like prohibitory laws, they will become a recognized necessity when the disease of inebriety and the poison of alcohol are understood.

Beyond all theory and agitation there is another movement of startling significance. Everywhere the moderate and excessive drinking man is looked upon with suspicion. His capacity is doubted, and his weakness is recognized as dangerous in all positions of trust and confidence. Corporations and companies demand employees to be total abstainers. Railroads, manufactories, and even retail liquor dealers of the better class require all workmen to be temperate men. This is extending to all occupations, and the moderate drinker is being crowded out as dangerous and unfit. This movement has no sentiment, but is the result of experi-