Suppose We Applied Some of the Theories of Today to the Culture Wars of 90 Years Ago?

Wesley J. Smith warns us that the ACLU is now maintaining that the rights of access of people to not only abortion but Death with Dignity should override the rights of physicians, pharmacists, and health care workers to conscientious objection regarding abortion and, in the states that have it, ‘Death with Dignity’ (i.e., assisted suicide).  And California has gone a lot farther than the Hobby Lobby controversy in trying to require that doctors and hospitals who do not do abortion themselves should have to refer clients to those that do; I don’t think they have to do them themselves.  This matter is now being litigated.

I should mention that one of the reasons most of our health care professionals that we as a family use are 20 miles away, though there are plenty of health care clusters closer than that, is that we did not want our child born in a hospital where abortions were performed, and the only such option in the county at the time was St. Joseph’s in Orange.

I was thinking.  There were some major ‘culture wars’ 90 years ago.  They concerned evolution-creation [that continues today in new forms], alcohol, and to a lesser extent even tobacco.  The 21st Amendment, which did away with national prohibition, did not establish any constitutional ‘right’ to consume alcohol; far from that, its section 2 declared, “The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.”  And not until 1966 could alcoholic beverages be procured in some portion of every state in the Union.

Less remembered today is that between 1909 and 1922, cigarettes were actually illegal in 15 states!  Of course it didn’t work any better than the prohibition of alcohol, but as the site linked to says, a whole generation of American males came back from their relatively brief adventure in World War I addicted to cigarettes, and they pushed for changes; by 1927 cigarettes could be had over the counter in every state.

Gambling was first legalized statewide in 1931 by Nevada, in response to the Depression; but it was after World War II that Las Vegas developed its unique culture.

These loosenings were not applied, however, with a vocabulary of ‘rights,’ such as we now attach to abortion, ‘death with dignity’, ‘marriage equality’, and ‘sexual freedom’.  I’m trying to imagine what life would be like if today’s ACLU had been there in 1933.  I could have walked into a Starbucks and asked for a Jack Daniels, and if they told me they didn’t have it I could sue them for “imposing religious values on their customers” and accusing them of discrimination; after all don’t they have to serve the entire public?  And CVS, determining that they are a drug store, which specializes in health, is pulling cigarettes from its shelves; could I not sue them for imposing ‘religious values?’  Indeed, before 1964 not smoking was usually the mark of a religious commitment to certain traditions, was it not?  And isn’t being a smoker an identity?  And as for alcohol, ask the Irish and the Germans if drinking alcohol is an identity or not!  Someone needs to explain to me how contraception, abortion, and same sex wedding cakes are different from these things.


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