Don't Strike Out the Top Line
DESCRIPTION: "Don't strike out the top line, Rub out the other two, Don't be ruled by fanatics, To liberty be true. Don't let silly weaklings rule Who can't themselves control, Don't let go your precious rights." "Hold fast by liberty, The watchword of our race."
EARLIEST DATE: 1896 (Ad in the Timaru Herald, according to Bailey/Roth-NZ)
KEYWORDS: drink political nonballad New Zealand
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Bailey/Roth-NZ, p. 95, "Don't Strike Out the Top Line" (1 text)
cf. "Strike Out the Top Line" (subject of prohibition in New Zealand)
NOTES [210 words]: As Bailey/Roth-NZ describe it, New Zealand voters had the option, every three years starting in 1894, to vote on prohibition, and they had three choices, from top to bottom:
CONTINUATION (maintaining the current number of liquor licenses)
REDUCTION (giving authorities the right to shut down up to a quarter of licenses)
NO LICENSE (complete elimination of alcohol)
Voting consisted of what is now called "approval voting" -- saying which choices were acceptable. This song tries to take advantage of that situation. If the vote for NO LICENSE failed to reach the three-fifths majority needed for approval, then those ballots which listed both NO LICENSE and REDUCTION would count toward REDUCTION. If, as was possible, some who were pro-liquor voted for CONTINUATION and REDUCTION (on the grounds that REDUCTION was better than shutting things down entirely) and some voted only for REDUCTION (on the grounds that they didn't object to drink but thought there were too many pubs), then by only "striking out the top line" the prohibitionists could at least earn a reduction, which (by their standards) was better than nothing.
It doesn't seem to have worked; in the 1896 poll, at least, CONTINUATION won easily, with NO LICENSE slightly ahead of REDUCTION. - RBW
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