UNL and the Dry Spell: Student Attitudes Toward Prohibition, 1931-1932

Project Editor:Jeffrey Miller, History 470: Digital History, Spring 2008

Table of Contents

The Wimberly Affair
The Beer Apartment Raid
Source Page

Editorial Note:The following is a transcription of an article from the Daily Nebraskan student newspaper.

Witness for the Defense


Perhaps I shall be termed "old-fashioned" and "behind the times," and perhaps your prohibition stand which you did not openly admit, but failed to hide will be considered and "enlightened" stand. Nevertheless I must take issue with some of your statements.

Dr. Butler said "We cannot moralize people by law." If that is true what are our murder laws and theft laws for? Are they not an attempt to enforce "conformity to a moral code" upon people. They are not merely penalties for the guilty, they were meant as preventatives. In this respect they do not differ from our prohibition laws. The law says "thou shalt not" and provides a penalty if you fail to heed it. The penalty is not meant merely as a punishment, it is meant to be a preventive. Isn't that the foundation for all laws?

Just why we should go around shouting repeal because we haven't attained one hundred percent enforcement I cannot understand. Our murder laws are note perfect and we do not go around attempting to repeal them.

Medical science can give the reasons why I uphold total abstinence. I do not deny that you can be an asset to society and drink a "little" but I maintain, old-fashionedly I suppose, that you can be a greater asset if you refrain from the "little." And a "little" always leads to a "little more" according to my observations.

I certainly believe it a better policy to obey unjust laws until such time as they can be modified rather than to openly violate them because of what we believe is unjust. Nothing can be gained by breeding disrespect for law. We must remember humans like ourselves made those laws. So few have made an honest attempt to obey the liquor law that it cannot be said that these years constitute a fair trial for the amendment.

Racketeering can be blamed to the liquor traffic but not to prohibition. We had the liquor traffic before prohibition. Most attempts at regulation and control failed in pre-prohibition days. The liquor violators have always been our most lawless class.

Much drinking by young people is done just "to be smart" and perhaps more is done because they follow the group and are afraid to stand up for what they themselves believe if it conflicts with the belief of the group. I recognize the difficultly in resisting the group but lots of people are doing it.

The plan Dr. Butler presented at the convention in Chicago was not commendable in my opinion. Prohibition is not a state but a national problem. Drinking in Canada has increased under government control. Government control would not give employment to a very large percent of our unemployed. It would increase poverty for those now nearly-impoverished would be the ones who would supply the market for government sale. I see no advantage in this change.

Perhaps my observation is too narrow. It is my stand.

J. H. B.

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Author: J.H.B.
Title: "Witness for the Defense"
Periodical: The Daily Nebraskan
28 September 1932