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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/598

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tion-breakers, for the law against selling has become a law against manufacturing, and so against purchasing. And all these laws have been written in the Constitution of the State itself, and the citizens go on buying, selling, and purchasing, with a pretense of surreptitiousness that, comic as it all is, keeps buyer, seller, retailer, and purchaser alike in breach of the statutes in sæcula sæculorum!

But, from whatever source or sources ingrafted upon a long-suffering community, no honest student of these laws can deny that they have had one of three effects, if not all three of them—namely, (1) to increase the demand for, while deteriorating the quality of, the supply of liquors; (2) to stimulate the ingenuity of the subject in evading the law itself, if not to produce the appetite for liquor drinking where it existed not before; or (3) to give to the visionary or "crank" class in a community political balance of power—that is, an absolute even if a temporary power. In other words, prohibitory liquor laws are dangerous to the physical, moral, and political health of a community: to the physical health, by inducing venders who can not afford to sell pure liquor at the risk of the penalty, but who can not well resist the temptation in view of the enormous profits of selling cheap and vile mixtures at the enhanced prices for pure liquor, to keep their poisons on sale; to the moral health, by making honest men law-breakers (with the dangerous tendency of the law-breaker in petto toward law-breaking in extenso, which the writers of moral poetry, from Dr. Watts up, have versified about until the memory of man runneth not to the contrary); and to the political health, by putting power into the hands of dangerous classes, the theorists, the "cranks," and the people with "missions" and visions as to reforming the world! (It might be added, perhaps, that these laws offend the religious sense, for in some States, as in Maine and in Kansas, the use of wine for the sacrament has been held a violation of law. But this aspect we are not at present discussing.) And all this in addition to the fact that prohibitory liquor laws are, always and everywhere, an infringement of the liberty of the subject, in opposition to the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness which it is the business of constitutions to decree and of States to secure.

Drunkenness is a crime in itself and the fruitful mother of other crimes, and with it the criminal law should deal. But no commercial law or municipal law, no form of civil (as distinguished from criminal) law has anything to do with crimes. The legal maxim, as old as civilization, that one must so use his own as not to injure his neighbor, takes ample care of the liquor-seller who sells liquor to one who he knows will do violence or wrong under its influence. Let the criminal law, then, attend to