Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8

Prohibitory Laws

Prohibitory Laws,

on the contrary, contemplate exclusively the effect of evil practices on others who, by virtue of an equal citizenship, are entitled to protection. They grow out of the principle "you must so use your own as not to harm another." Incidentally they may benefit, it is true, all persons restrained, but that is not their object; and this applies to all restrictive legislation. Thus, when the law undertakes to punish the purveyor of stolen goods, you do not say that it is to legislate men into being virtuous, although honesty is undoubtedly a virtue. And why'! Because you perceive that primarily it is not the moral wrong which is aimed at in the prohibition, but the enforcement of a social discipline essential to the rights of private property. And just so when the sale of alcoholic drinks is prohibited, you do not say that it is to enforce total abstinence on the part of individuals, although that may largely follow the removal of temptation to indulgence; but that its object is to protect society from the curse of drunkenness, the natural consequence of promiscuous sale of intoxicating liquors. The difference between sumptuary and prohibitory laws is therefore apparent. The former operate against the person to regulate his tastes; the latter operate against the traffic to effect its suppression. Prohibition differs in no wise from many other sanitary, quarantine and police regulations, and has no sumptuary feature about it. The citizen may still poison himself with alcohol if he chooses and can get it; but he shall not sell the poison to his neighbors.