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This video from ReasonTV talks to Garrett Peck about the book The Prohibition Hangover.
Tags:Garrett Peck on The Prohibition Hangover,alcohol prohibition,cultural prohibition,garrett peck,legal prohibition,ReasonTV,the prohibition hangover,libertarianism
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Garrett Peck on The Prohibition Hangover
Garrett Peck: You know what? You want to become a good American? You want to become a citizen you’ll need to act like us, we don’t drink.
Nick Gillespie: Hi, I'm Nick Gillespie with reason.tv today we’re talking with Garrett Peck the author of the new book The Prohibition Hangover Alcohol in America from Demon Rum to Cult Cabernet. Garrett thanks for coming.
Garrett Peck: Thanks Nick for having me.
Nick Gillespie: What is The Prohibition Hangover?
Garrett Peck: The idea behind The Prohibition Hangover is to look at what happened to Americans and alcohol after refuel. Now it went on bringing a kind of study about what happened with their drinking habits so with this last seven to six years. And so, we have really good look at how the country went from one where we changed the constitution not once but twice to deal with alcohol. And so there was a heavy stigma against drinking and out here we have seven to six years later where 2/3 of us drink. So in the course of just three of four generations there was this huge shift in American society.
Nick Gillespie: Before prohibition what was the percentage of Americans who tried?
Garrett Peck: It’s kind of hard to say certainly drinking was actually under decline for prohibition in part because of the temperance movement. It actually really peaks in the 1820s that’s where probably the all time peak of American drinking.
Nick Gillespie: And what was that peak? Like do you have any gallons of what's the per child that you tried?
Garrett Peck: It was about consider to be three or four times of what we actually drink today for significant.
Nick Gillespie: So then we go along, drinking was declining prohibition wipes it out officially. What was the percentage of people who kept drinking during prohibition?
Garrett Peck: We don’t actually know because there were no statistics that were held on during that time. What we do know of course were deaths from cirrhosis of liver which actually plummeted. So in that sense, prohibition worked in one account.
Nick Gillespie: Right but then it had you know any number of negative side effects right?
Garrett Peck: Correct, it’s such a lawbreaking wholesale disobedience to a lot on the constitution.
Nick Gillespie: After prohibition, how long did it take for drinking to become normalized again?
Garrett Peck: It really took probably until the 1950s and by that point the leaders in the temperance moment would push prohibition on the country. The generation had found World War II was the drinking generation. They were born and raised largely during prohibition and as they came of age they decided you know what this isn’t our cause we’re going after war we’re going to drink.
Nick Gillespie: But they drank water than beer right?
Garrett Peck: They did, that was part of the solution action.
Nick Gillespie: Which then emanated out into certain states had three or two beer laws where younger people could drink that and then you could get real stuff later.
Garrett Peck: Indeed.
Nick Gillespie: So the prohibition I mean part of the book and one of the things that’s fascinating is the way that prohibition was repealed but then it kind of it’s skeleton still exist over the way that the way liquor is regulated in America and then also some of our cultural attitudes. Could you talk about how does it still affect the legal framework of laws around the country and then some of the cultural effects of prohibition.
Garrett Peck: For the legal framework we got the regulatory framework. 32 states and the District of Columbia adapted the Three-Tier system they're called license jurisdictions. And then 18 states and Montgomery County, Maryland became controlled jurisdictions. Those states are particular and I live in one of those which is Virginia if you want to buy this experience you have to buy it from the state itself even though you don’t buy gas or groceries or jeans from the state but you buy it from the state. So that’s a part of it there was such as sense of this stuff is wrong. We want the state to control it.
Nick Gillespie: How much of it is also that we want to capture all of the proceeds and the tax revenue.
Garrett Peck: That was only a part of it and I’d say today that’s entirely the case. Alcohol is not a sin anymore in the American society other than a few places in the Deep South.
Nick Gillespie: So then and what about the cultural hang out for--how does our experience with prohibition continue to inform our fears or anxieties or embrace of the alcohol.
Garrett Peck: The stigma against alcohol lasted for decades in one of the cases it continues until the existing--in a lot of places especially deep south I’d say. Especially areas where you have one of Evangelical Protestants to still preach the evils of alcohol. So in that sense we have never ever quite got over alcohol.
Nick Gillespie: Where does the vilification of alcohol come from in a Christian context because you now certainly there's one in the Bible Jesus maybe he didn’t wine but he certainly produced the water wine and obviously Catholics, Jews, many protestant groups didn’t have problems with beer or wine or anything like that. What is their connection at certain religious people draw with it?
Garrett Peck: It came about during the early part of the temperance movement in 1820s or 1830s and these people so adamantly a favor or abstinence they believe that therefore because they were followers therefore Jesus had to become one as well. So they reinterpreted the Bible and said where it says wine it was actually unpermitted wine. Even though there was no scientific basis for that or whatsoever or any cultural basis within Judaism. But they had an ideology and therefore that became a weakness test for them.
Nick Gillespie: And then why did that argument carry over so widely into an American culture that was teaming with Europeans who did not have the same approach you know like Americans, Asians or whatever.
Garrett Peck: The temperance movement kind of came head to head with this huge wave of Catholic immigrants who brought their drinking habits with them. I mean Catholicism has never had a theological issue with alcohol. And the American protestants who were running the country at that time so all these new people come in and saying you know what you want to become a good American you want to become a citizen you need to act like us, we don’t drink so a lot of ways to speak for them to impose their cultural values on these new comers into the country.
Nick Gillespie: That’s fascinating. Talk about in the book you travelled widely you travelled around the country, talk a little bit about your travels and talk about the most interesting place that you saw.
Garrett Peck: I travelled quite a bit I'm actually from California. So I went all around, it went through my country a lot as a kid and as an adult. Probably the most fascinating trip I took was the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. I went into this knowing the least amount about Bourbon and now I'm a big Bourbon fan. It’s just such a pretty part of the country and then how to make Bourbon in the aging processes is really fascinating.
Nick Gillespie: So is Bourbon your person of trust?
Garrett Peck: For the solid experience yes, but I love beer and I drink wine so I drink pretty much everything except for a rail vodka.
Nick Gillespie: Is this a golden age for booze hounds in America?
Garrett Peck: I’d say so yeah. Especially there's an increase awareness of how we drink and sort of those big awareness of drinking and driving and much more people are into--okay, I've got to work tomorrow I can't like have five or six drinks tonight but so if I get that one or two make them really good drinks. So there's kind of an awareness of that.
There's the whole foodie culture that’s going on. So even despite of the recession people still go to farmers market and they want to buy fresh ingredients and they want to you know try how to include those things in their drinks as well. So yeah that’s kind of a cultural phenomenon going on where people are more and more addicted to quality.
Nick Gillespie: I want to thank Garrett Peck, the author of The Prohibition Hangover for talking to reason.tv. I'm Nick Gillespie.