When we (that is, the government) wanted to stop people drinking alcohol, neither destruction of the product nor Biblical verse persuaded any of them to do so. It was a scene which decades later was unconvincingly repeated with nefarious combustibles. Now both alcohol and marijuana are legal. The government that once denounced the products now sells them. Government is like parenting (“Do as I say not as I do“); that is, well intentioned but always a titch out of the loop.
The once fanciful topics of booze and dope are now boringly practical. There is little lingering debate about the subjects. The government of the masses has admitted its incivility and succumbed to recognition of personal choice. And the world survives. For good or for bad there is only so much you can force people to do against their will.
It is a reminder that the rhetoric surrounding vaccinations against the COVID pandemic and its variants is probably both as ill-informed and as unnecessarily neurotic as any other enforcement. Certainly red lights exist for a reason and a purpose; certainly there are statistics and research and science; but beyond the vehicle for self-protection there is no tolerance for compelling observance. I suspect as a result it is only a matter of time before procedures – like 4-way stops – are put in place for the protection of everybody without overwhelming imposition of mandate. There will be choices, decisions and opportunities available to the masses; some will perish, others will carry on.
There is a reason the gin crawl for which Victorian England was so well known inhabited primarily the dwellings of the poor and disadvantaged. Ignorance and obstinacy are comfortable bedfellows. The cry for control and stimulation – the twins of mental and physical yearning – is common among every order of society but not always expressed in like manner. The narcotic of one stratum of society is not that same as that of another. But tapping into the right seam may develop into a burgeoning success – albeit sometimes at the expense of others.
With the progress of enquiry into the USA Capitol insurrection on January 6th last, the legitimacy of the drug that propelled so many similarly minded people wearing horns on their head or military fatigues is beginning to fragment and decompose. When put to the question, not one of the proponents or their supporters has offered any evidence of truth – other than further spirited innuendo and incredulity. The “Big Lie” is about to become as much a social disgrace as the Gin Mills of London.
It’s very hard to say which was bigger – the craze for drinking gin that swept the lower classes or the moral panic at the sight of so many gin drinkers that engulfed the ruling classes. Anonymous hordes of poor, often homeless people wandered the city drinking away their sorrows, and often their clothes, as they readily exchanged their garments for the spirit.
Before the industrial revolution and the rash of cotton mills that would fill the north of England a century later, cloth was very expensive. Beggars really did dress in rags, if at all, and the obvious thing to sell if you really needed money fast was, literally, the shirt on your back. The descriptions left to us by the ‘Gin Panickers’ would be funny – if they weren’t so tragic.