On a whim, while traveling a few weeks ago, I forwarded to my husband a notice about a public conversation at Goose the Market, one of our favorite speciality grocers in Indianapolis. I was in a hurry and didn’t look closely at the details of the event or even when it was. It was one of those moments where I thought that if I didn’t respond then, I wouldn’t get back to it while tickets were still available, so I told T to “buy them if you think it will be interesting”. I should be more cautious about those spur of the moment decisions, especially when it involves not consulting a calendar. (There is a story about a opera and a graduation conflict that I’ll keep for another time. Anyone want to buy tickets to The Ring cycle?) In this case, however, there were no conflicts and I’m glad that it worked out because it was a fun and engaging evening.
“Chew on This: Moonshine and Morality” was sponsored by the Indiana Humanities Council. A group of 12 gathered at Goose, to chat about the issues presented in Ken Burns’ recent series “Prohibition“. There were similar groups that met at several other venues around the city.
What a great idea! One of the things that I liked the best about this is that it was a random group of people. Other than my spouse, I didn’t know anybody. We discussed Prohibition — the rise of the movement, the failure of the law, and the repeal of the amendment — and what government restrictions on individual freedoms mean when there are differing views of “morality”. Mostly we talked about this in terms of illegal drugs, underage drinking laws, smoking and prostitution. But we touched on other issues too: Who gets to decide on liberties? Can some liberties be restricted? Where does the ‘slippery slope’ begin? What happens when groups don’t compromise and discuss? This last issue, and a wider discussion on single issue politics, as suggested by Burns’ film would be an interesting topic to focus on in a similar venue — and something that could be talked about for a long time.
I liked this format and would certainly consider participating in another “Chew on This” chat in the future. It’s what diverse communities should do frequently: hold civilized discourse on issues.
Once the government begins forbidding things, then someone will come along and say, “I got it. Step around the corner” from Prohibition, a film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick