Seventy-five years ago today, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah stepped up to the bar to pour themselves, and the rest of the country, a big glass of shut the fuck up to Prohibition. After 13 years our long, sober national nightmare was finally over.
With these simple words, "Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed," it once again became legal to transport, import and possess intoxicating liquors.
Which, finally, brings me to my point. The failure of the 18th Amendment and the necessity of the 21st Amendment should be a hard lesson to us all. The Constitution should never, ever, be used to deny something to an American citizen.
Any American citizen.
As a refresher, for anyone who's forgotten, here are the rights and freedoms the Constitution currently protects:
- Freedom of religion, speech, the press, assembly and the right to petition the government for the redress of grievances
- Freedom to keep and bear arms
- Freedom from the quartering of troops in peace time
- Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure
- Freedom from self-incrimination, double jeopardy and eminent domain, and the right to due process of law
- The right to a speedy, public trial by an impartial jury of our peers and to be represented by counsel during the trial, to confront our accusers and to know with what we are charged
- The right to a civil trial by jury
- Freedom from excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment
- Freedom from slavery
- Freedom to vote (I'd call this more of a duty, but hey, that's just me)
- Freedom for the ladies to vote
- Freedom from idiots being elected president more than twice
- The right of D.C. residents to have a say in who becomes president
- The right to not have to pay to vote
- Freedom for the kiddies who are at least 18 to vote
Not a bad list, and probably more than most of the people living around the world today. The one thing all of these rights and freedoms have in common is none of them is a prohibition on the rights of the people. The 18th Amendment tried, and failed, and today we celebrate its repeal.
I ask you, to this list of glorious rights and duties, do we really want to codify intolerance and hatred in the form of amendments against flag burning, abortion and gay marriage? These are just three topics, but they're the three you hear about most when it comes to amending the Constitution.
There are only two possible amendments I, personally, would ever agree with adding: term limits for representatives (8) and senators (3), and a balanced budget amendment. Any more than that and the four 29 7/8 inch by 24 7/16 inch pages (10 pages of 8.5x11 paper) of our Constitution run the risk of turning into the bloated behemoth that is the almost 500-page Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe.
Plainly, and simply, the Constitution should never be used to restrict our rights, only the powers of our leaders.
So, all together now, let us raise a pint today in celebration of sanity returning (and sobriety legally departing) America and remember the one right none of us has is the right to deny freedom to any of our fellow citizens.