Rev. Mark H. Creech
Just before the North Carolina Senate passed a bill that would legalize sports betting in the Tar Heel state, Sen. Jim Perry (R-Lenoir), the legislation's primary sponsor, said: "Prohibition doesn't work. We know that activity [sports wagering] takes place today, whether we like it or not."
Sen. Paul Lowe, a cosponsor of the measure, echoed Perry's remark, saying, "Somebody said, 'Well, it's gambling.' Well, we already have gambling. We've got the lottery. It's here."
Perry and Lowe's arguments are the standard mantra for those who support the legalization of a particular vice, or vices in general. But it is a widespread myth and a dangerous claim.
The fact is, Prohibitive laws do work well, for three reasons: (1) they work to reduce or curb the practice of whatever activity is being prohibited, (2) they work to educate people about the prohibited vices' harms, and (3) they work to protect and preserve the public good.
The late Dr. Norman Geisler and his coauthor Frank Turek have brilliantly written in Legislating Morality:
Actually, the Prohibition of alcohol from 1920 to 1933 was not a failure, writes William J. Bennett, the former director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush. In his book Going to Pot, Bennett argues:
Bennett is right.
Prohibition laws are also educational. In other words, the laws serve as a teacher to show the citizenry what behaviors are destructive—what may not only work against their own interests, but that of society as a whole.
In an article titled Myths About Prohibition, Dr. Andrew Corbett, President of ICI Theological College Australia, says:
In January of 2020, North Carolina celebrated the enactment of its smoke-free law in public places. As director of the Christian Action League, I consider my advocacy for that measure one of my finest moments. It was admittedly a Prohibition law. Many lawmakers railed against it. High-powered lobbyists from the tobacco industry sought to derail it. Some of my own family and friends were prepared to disown me because I supported it. But today, the public loves it because they can see the benefit of it.
According to the North Carolina Alliance for Health, the smoke-free law has resulted in an 89 percent improvement in indoor air quality in restaurants and bars. During the law's first year, the state saw a 21 percent drop in the weekly average emergency room visits for heart attacks, for which secondhand smoke is a leading trigger. Cases of asthma also decreased. And a benefit-cost analysis has shown the smoking ban saves roughly $4.7 million per year in avoidable health care costs for hospitality workers.
Yes, Prohibition works.
Still, let me add one more reason why Prohibitive laws work. All of the Ten Commandments of God are Prohibitions. If we say Prohibition doesn't work, shall we then dismiss the basis of the rule of law, the biblical law? Perish the thought. Although some in our society are pushing us in that direction, it cannot end well.
Yes, Prohibitive laws work! And in certain areas of life, they shouldn't be repealed, especially laws against what we commonly call the vices.
Again, the argument that "Prohibition doesn't work" is a myth and a dangerous claim.© Rev. Mark H. Creech
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