Pubdate: Fri, 27 Jan 2006
Source: Community Press, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006 Community Press
Author: Alan Coxwell


I received a very entertaining and enlightening book for Christmas 
written by Tom Standage. It is titled A History of the World in Six 
Glasses. The author chronicles the appearance of beer, wine, 
distilled spirits, coffee, tea and Coca-Cola while examining how they 
have influenced the history of the world.

Those fluids we humans have sipped on our long march to these modern 
days have had a profound impact on the world we live in. They shall 
continue to do so and in these tales there are lessons to be learned.

Perhaps one of the more interestingly futile attempts to control the 
human consumption of certain beverages was put forth by King Charles 
II of Britain in 1675. He was suspicious of the freedom of speech in 
coffeehouses and their suitability for hatching plots. "Charles was 
particularly aware of this, since coffeehouse machinations had played 
a small part in his own accession to the throne.

On December 29, 1675, the King issued a "Proclamation for the 
suppression of Coffee-Houses," declaring that since such 
establishments "have produced very evil and dangerous effects   for 
that in such Houses   divers False, Malitious and Scandalous Reports 
are devised and spread abroad, to the Defamation of His Majestie's 
Government, and to the Disturbance and the Peace and Quiet of the 
Realm; His Majesty hath thought it fit and necessary, That said 
Coffee-Houses be (for the future) Put down and Suppressed.

"The result was public outcry, for coffeehouses had by this time 
become central to social, commercial, and political life in London. 
When it became clear the proclamation would be widely ignored, which 
would undermine the government's authority, a further proclamation 
was issued, announcing that coffee sellers would be allowed to stay 
in business for six months if they paid 500 pounds and agreed to 
swear an oath of allegiance. But the fee and time limit were soon 
dropped in favour of vague demands that coffeehouses should refuse 
entry to spies and mischief makers.

Not even the King of England could halt the march of coffee."

When authorities fear something they try to stamp it out before it 
causes them serious trouble.

Today we live in the ongoing "War on Drugs" led with righteous 
certainty by the United States of America. Without really thinking it 
through, our Canadian leaders bow down to the American propaganda and 
we spend huge amounts of energy chasing down the drugs deemed to be 
evil here in the 21st Century. Caffeine is a drug. Alcohol is a drug. 
Nicotine is a drug. These are good, legal drugs governments control 
and tax heavily.

The only thing the laws on "bad" drugs are doing is making organized 
crime very wealthy.

They are omnipresent in our North American society and always will 
be. Our laws are so absurdly unenforceable that we buy needles to 
give to convicts in our prisons so they can inject their drugs 
without fear of getting HIV or hepatitis. How absurd is that? How can 
there be so many illegal drugs in our jails?

Banning these substances, blowing in from poppy fields of 
Afghanistan, marijuana fields of Spring Brook and Mexico, or labs in 
California, will be as successful as King Charles' attempt to get rid 
of coffeehouses. Government authority is undermined daily.

But no politician dares tackle this situation.

U.S. propaganda is just too powerful.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom