Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Heroin does far less damage than alcohol and our attitudes are therefore inconsistent

A History of Alcoholism: Jean-Charles Sournia’s book contains the immortal (in my pages, anyway) quote, “It would seem that if alcohol is a vice, then virtue is unattractive, and if drinking is a malady, then good health alone is not enough to satisfy man.”
Modern Alcoholism: Alcohol use has played a significant role in film from its birth. Before prohibition, temperance melodramas showed it as a cause of distress and anguish; later, film noir made both alcohol (and smoking) into on-screen signifiers. Our choice of which drugs to prohibit is often inconsistent: even in its natural form alcohol is more dangerous than the concentrated forms of other, still illegal, drugs...
Portrayal of alcohol in films and media: “Prior to 1919 and during the initial phases of Prohibition, a popular film genre was the ‘temperance melodrama’” which “portrayed the distress and anguish that resulted from drink. They were followed, however, by films portraying the alcoholic as free and independent, a man who knew exactly what was good for him.”
After Prohibition, “productions portrayed the alcoholic as weak or depraved, who, having neglected all social duties, was destined either to meet a sorry end or redeem himself by some desperate act of heroism.” After World War II, “‘Action’ films portray two sorts of drinker… typified by the private detective who drinks solidly without impairment of judgement, [for whom] alcohol signals strength and power and can be consumed with impunity”; and their opponents, for whom “drinking is a sign of weakness—they meet with failure because they drink.” P. 199
“Society has made a further compromise by conferring legal status on alcohol and tobacco, but it continues to outlaw other drugs such as hashish, cocaine and the opiates. Authorized or not, all these products have the power to reduce people to addiction and its attendant problems. This legality is granted only through laziness, since production cannot be halted and man’s need for ethanol would seem to be insatiable. We would never dream of placing the wine-producer alongside the heroin trafficker, whose business we endeavour to stamp out. Overall, however, heroin does far less damage than alcohol and our attitudes are therefore inconsistent.” More Information A History of Alcoholism “Soon, all forms of criminality came to be regarded as products of alcoholism.”

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