The "Highlander Center," a group advocating rights for African-Americans, "were labeled as subversive and subjected to investigation, and their members were harassed," which sounds a bit more like fascism than democracy.
But were the hearings fair? No, they were highly unfair; from the very beginning, the lack of fairness was obvious to any objective observer; they were called "Hearings Regarding the Communist Infiltration of the Motion Picture Industry" (held October 20-30, 1947). The proof was in prior to any fair hearing of the issues or the accused, which is a denial of democratic justice to begin with.
And meantime, the witnesses were classified as "friendly" or "unfriendly." If you were "friendly," that meant you already had cooperated with the HUAC, and had indicated a willingness to point fingers, name names, of suspected "communists," so the members of the committee (which included Congressman Richard Nixon) would look like they were doing their patriotic duty in protecting America from a communist takeover.
The testimony of screenwriter John Howard Lawson (262-263) shows the patently unfair nature of these "hearings." Lawson attempted to read a statement to the committee, which began, "You have spend 1 week vilifying me before the American public." After being interrupted by the chairman briefly ("Just a minute..."), Lawson continued; "And you refuse to allow me to make a statement on my rights as an American citizen." "I refuse you to make the statement, because of the first sentence in your statement...is not pertinent to the inquiry," the chairman said, and he pounded his gavel off an on during Lawson's attempt to read his statement.
The year 1920 was not only the year women were granted the right to vote through the 19th Amendment; it was also the year the 18th Amendment took effect. Prohibition, making the sale and consumption of liquor illegal, went into law, and it was clearly a denial of one's freedom: the idea that the government could order a peace-loving, law-abiding, honest, hard-working adult male to eschew his normal cold glass of beer after work, was nothing short of an intrusion into a man's personal life. It clearly was a case of "Big Brother" trying to legislate morality, and in the process it created a huge underground crime system of bootleggers, gangsters and hoodlums.
Clarence Darrow, among the most famous attorneys in American History, said, in 1924: "This prohibition law has filled our jails with people who are not criminals, who have no conception or feeling that they are doing wrong." He went on to say that that "important" police business has been pushed aside so courts can deal with "cases of drunkenness and disorderly conduct." It has "made informers of thousands of us...it is hateful, distasteful, it is an abomination, and we ought to get rid of it," he asserted, "and we will if we have the courage and the sense."
To back up Darrow's assertions, the Department of Commerce published a report showing that between July 1, 1917, and July 1, 1922, state prison detainees increased from 72.4 to 74.5 per 100,000 population. And despite Prohibition, "production and consumption of alcohol did not stop," Paul Goodman and Frank Gatell wrote (American in the Twenties: The Beginnings of Contemporary America, 1972). In fact, "Prohibition shifted an estimated $2 billion annually from the liquor manufacturers to the bootleggers and gave organized crime enormous sums of money."
But moreover, Prohibition denied Americans the freedom to have a glass of wine with dinner, or to enjoy an afternoon picnic barbeque with friends; taking away sober, tax-paying adults' right to enjoy a drink, in moderation, on a Sunday afternoon, is an outrageous intrusion into the private lives of citizens. Prohibition lasted 14 years, and in that time, billions of dollars was made by everyone from gangland thugs working for Al Capone, to the hillbilly in the boondocks of West Virginia, working his little still back in the woods.
Wheels and Becker. "The Second Red Scare: HUAC vs. Hollywood, 1947."
McClellan, Jim R. "Women's Suffrage: The Nineteenth Amendment is Ratified." Historical
Moments: Changing Interpretations of America's Past, Vol. 2, the Civil War Through the 20th Century. Chapter 15. New York: Cushkin/McGraw-Hill, 2000.