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Prohibition-era Chicago? [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2008-2-16 11:31:38 |Display all floors
IT MAY be just a pinprick compared with the mayhem in Mexico. But for many of the 2.2m residents of Vancouver, accustomed to idyllic calm, a spate of gun killings is starting to give their city the aura of Prohibition-era Chicago. In violent battles over power and money, brazen young bandits are blowing each other to pieces for a piece of another prohibited market—that for drugs.


What is the Prohibition-era referred? When?
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Post time 2008-2-16 11:40:59 |Display all floors
From Wikipedia:

Prohibition in the United States refers to attempts to legally ban alcohol sales and consumption. The term often refers specifically to the period from 1920 to 1933, during which alcohol sale, manufacture and transportation were banned throughout the United States as mandated in the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

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Post time 2008-2-16 11:53:44 |Display all floors
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Jl,

Thanks. I got it.  :)

Another question, it seems to me the article about Canada's society has nothing to do with America at all. I wonder why the contributor to The Economist linked Canada with America? I doubt the author/authoress of such a prestigious and serious journal would waste his/ her time to bullsh*t. Any idea or suggestion from you?

[ Last edited by rainbow at 2008-2-16 12:00 PM ]
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Post time 2008-2-16 11:54:03 |Display all floors

The article

T MAY be just a pinprick compared with the mayhem in Mexico. But for many of the 2.2m residents of Vancouver, accustomed to idyllic calm, a spate of gun killings is starting to give their city the aura of Prohibition-era Chicago. In violent battles over power and money, brazen young bandits are blowing each other to pieces for a piece of another prohibited market—that for drugs.

The latest involved a young man gunned down as he left a party on February 2nd. A fortnight earlier two gunmen fired on a Land Rover as it arrived at a downtown steakhouse, killing a cocaine dealer just out of prison and another gangster. The most shocking of 21 gang killings in the city last year was the execution of six men, four of them known villains, in a suburban flat.

Canada's murder rate is still only a third of that in the United States. But violence by gangs (now estimated to number 950) has been rising for two decades. Vancouver seems to have become its new centre, thanks to its importance as a hub for the production and export of marijuana. The drug trade in the province of British Columbia generates an estimated C$7 billion ($7 billion) a year, creating a glitzy gang culture where, as a Vancouver policeman moans, “handguns are as ubiquitous as cellphones.”

The police have set up a specialist team of city and provincial officers to target the gangs. But there have been no arrests in connection with the latest shootings, and few prosecutions over the past 20 years. The gangsters take care not to leave witnesses or evidence.

They are helped, too, by police undermanning. Superintendent John Robin, who heads the gang task-force, says he can monitor fewer than a third of the 129 gangs in British Columbia. The provincial government is doing rather more than the city, which last year added only 17 extra police (the force wanted 65 more). The federal government is introducing tougher laws on gun crime and drug trafficking, and promises to pay for 2,500 extra police; Wally Oppal, British Columbia's attorney-general, hopes for an extra 350 of them for the province.

Some would like to see British Columbia learn from Quebec's success in tackling biker gangs. Its provincial government has spent more than C$115m over the past decade on special teams of prosecutors and police and a fortified court, arresting 134 bikers and convicting most of them. Traditionally, British Columbians have been laid back about drugs. With each shooting they are becoming less so.
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Post time 2008-2-16 13:07:51 |Display all floors
The writer is using "Prohibition-era Chicago" as a symbol or metaphor for gun violence. Prohibition-era Chicago brings to mind machine-gun toting gangsters.

Prohibition-era Chicago (or places based on it) were settings for gangster movies (like Little Caesar and Scarface) in the early 1930s in the US (in addition to the real Chicago of the time, of course). So the image of Prohibition-era Chicago has been around for over 70 years in the popular imagination.

The writer might also be drawing a contrast between the relatively safe and typically "Canadian" image with its less safe neighbor to the south (the US).

[ Last edited by jeff_in_sf at 2008-2-15 09:08 PM ]
中文我不会读也不会写。Really, I don't.

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Post time 2008-2-16 13:33:17 |Display all floors
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Jeff,

Thank you very much for the interesting backdrop of American in 1930's. Obviously the British author knew American history well too, and I admire this so much. Since the journal is dedicated to its global readers/ subscribers rather than Americans only. I wonder whether other native English readers, especially younger people, can understand it well? Do you think it is a good stroke?  And do people often compare Canada with America?:)
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Post time 2008-2-16 14:21:32 |Display all floors
Well, Prohibition-era Chicago is a pretty well-known image all over the English-speaking world, I would think. The gangsters of that era were well-known from news reels and movies.

I think it's a fairly typical allusion, by Economist standards.

I'm trying to think of an equivalent for you. If The Economist mentioned "1920s Shanghai" it might conjure up  for you an image of foreigners and Chinese, dance orchestras, cosmopolitanism and sophistication. That's a fairly well-known image of a city and a particular time.

People always compare Canada with the US. With respect to our Canadian friends, I might say that some of Canada's national identity is that of "not United States"—that is, in Canadian minds, whatever Canada is, it is not the United States.

So the allusion to "Prohibition-era Chicago" to clean, safe Canadian Vancouver is a bit mischievous. It's not how Vancouver would want to picture itself.
中文我不会读也不会写。Really, I don't.

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