If alcohol is a crutch, then Jack Daniel’s is the wheelchair. Eight glasses and you forget the English language. You just have one massive vowel movement.

–Robin Williams

Picture 217

Political Oratory

Before the bloom of the campaign is off the rose of the election, it’s worth recalling the finest example of political oratory from any century.

Passed in 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution repealed Prohibition, but States still had the right to restrict or ban the sale of alcohol, resulting in a patchwork of laws, some of which still exist today (no booze sales on Sunday before noon, on election day, or what have you). The last state to repeal prohibition was Mississippi, in 1966.

From 1933 to 1966, alcohol was a political hot potato in Mississippi, frequently argued to no one’s advantage. In 1952, a young Mississippi lawmaker named Noah “Soggy” Sweat worked for more than two months on a speech he delivered about alcohol, specifically, whiskey, and whether it should be legalized in the state of Mississippi.

Reproduced here for the edification of the electorate, is Noah Sweat’s infamous If-By-Whiskey speech, a tribute to politicians of all parties. What say you, Mr. Sweat, are you for or against whiskey?

Judge Noah "Soggy" Sweat

Judge Noah Sweat

If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.

If when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman’s step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life’s great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

See If-by-whiskey at Wikipedia.

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