5/22/10

Just Legalize It, Yo.

Aah, Prohibition. Making liqour illegal seemed like a good idea at the time: everyone would just stop getting wasted, beating their wives, and dying yellow in a puddle of puke and twisted metal (oh those crazy new-fangled automobiles!). Unfortunately, people are going to drink whether they're allowed to or not. It was (and is) embedded in many American cultural traditions, it helps people relax, get laid, and party like it's 1929. So people started making alchohol in their bathtubs, sometimes blowing themselves up or blinding customers, empowering the mob to the point where Capone more or less ran Chicago, increased rates of alcoholism, and going to jail for the right to drink. So what did we do? We demanded our liquor back. Turns out the government can't stop adults from making their own choices. Now some choices people make- racially segregating bathrooms, serial killing, crack- are so harmful and stupid and just plain wrong that we can all agree (or almost all agree, maybe not if you're Rand Paul or Ted Bundy) that we have a moral obligation to do all we can to stop it. But many others have been shown to cause more problems when made illegal than they did beforehand.

Marijuana- Your mama smokes weed. Unlike legal alcohol, it is impossible to overdose on Marijuana; if anyone dies from weed, it's from getting really stoned and drag racing on the highway or something like that (not that weed causes people to want to drag race, mostly just order pizza and watch adult swim). Despite what propaganda commercials would have to believe, marijuana will not magically make you pregnant, and you won't shoot yourself in the face for kicks. The drug temporarily lowers your intelligence, reaction time, and inhibitions a bit, but not the way alchohol or other drugs do, rendering you a floppy mess, and it doesn't change your personality or make you do things you wouldn't do otherwise. Nor will you become irreparably insane; although, to be fair, like stress, abuse of even mild drugs (including caffeine) can sometimes trigger or worsen symptoms of pre-existing mental illness conditions. Weed is (with a few possible exceptions) the least addictive drug and, with very few and mild withdrawal symptoms, one of the easiest habits to break. Legalizing it would take revenue away from shady characters and college students and shift it to Business Hippies, make it higher quality and cheaper, and generate tax revenue. Not to mention all the medical benefits (see California) and possible renewed interest in Lava Lamps. Even better, it would stop sucking up taxpayer money and police time, as well as freeing up prison space for the real baddies.

Prostitution- Can you eradicate "the oldest profession" by making it illegal? Apparently not. Legalized/decriminalized prostitution both empowers sex workers by giving them legal rights and recourse against mistreatment (they can go to police for protection, they can form unions, etc) but it also gives "Johns" (and the rare "Mary") a safer, more ethical way to get their kicks- as opposed to picking up a 15 yo kid off the street, exchanging STDs, getting busted, and losing their Senatorial careers. Can legal prostitution still suck? Yes-but at least legalizing/decriminalizing sex work gives workers a voice, and vice squads can focus their energies on helping children, women, and men who are being victimized (as opposed to adults who choose and even enjoy sex work) by the truly horrifying exploitative sex slavery (and virtual sex slavery) practices that will remain very very illegal.

Guns- Waa? Huh? Yup, I said it... Oh, that Second Amendment. Why do we have that? I know- because back when our country was founded in an Indian Graveyard by a group of Enlightened bewiged Puritanical rebels attended on by African slaves, nobody knew what the fuck was gonna go down. Would the new goverment become tyrannical and take away South Carolina's slaves or Maryland's Catholicism? Who knew? The right to bear arms was not only so they could get their buff'lo huntin' and Injun killin' in on weekends, it was also so that the only people with guns wouldn't be The Man. And even though The Man now has the Atomic bomb (who can compete with that? Well, North Korea's trying to...), that's still important. Criminals will get guns. Making criminals of citzens who- even if they're wrong- feel they need a gun to protect themselves from criminals (or just cuz they wanna go deer hunting once a year) just seems like a bad call- especially when police officers (who all carry guns) have been known to fire into crowds of unarmed civilians, or just black people carrying cell phones. I'm not saying that people should shoot back, mind you; but I do believe that people should defend their right to defend themselves.

Herms

- aka the intersexed; people with nontraditional genitalia. This also applies to other Transgendered folks. Establishing a legal third gender status would not only be an affirmation of reality- some people, rarely, are born neither male nor female; others take advantage of surgery to alter their gender or simply use cosmetics and clothing to give that appearance- but it could also give them some protection from the ignorance-born predjudice they face daily. On the other hand, I suspect that some Intersex folks would choose the traditional binary in order to blend in to society better and not be singled out.

Gay Marriage

- this is just a no brainer.

Immigrants- People are just not gonna stop coming to America. And you can cry "they took our jobs!" all you want, but it's the illegal status of immigrants that makes it so they can work longer hours for less. If it were easier to become a citizen or legal migrant worker, with all the benefits that come with it (such as higher wages), I think it's quite probable that people would take advantage of that instead of risking deportation by remaining illegal. And as far as I'm concerned, immigrants enrich our culture- they start out poor, working hard at crappy jobs that Americans don't want, they send their kids to school, they introduce new cuisines, new language, new music- what's not to love?

Education- speaking of immigration, where does Arizona get off making it illegal to teach about non-whites? That is just fucking ridiculous. As it is, I've talked to many many racist people who truly believe that nothing at all of interest or value has ever occurred in the "uncivilized" parts of the world (the entire continent of Africa, most of Asia, the middle East, South America, and pre-European Invasion North America). This history is more likely to cause "division" in my view, because when minorities largely omitted, and thus are not important, are not valid. It reinforces & even institutionalizes ignorance-based (isn't it always?) racism- Black people have never accomplished anything! If they had, why aren't we learning about it in school? Clearly, they are inferior or they'd be in the textbook. As KRS-One says, "when one doesn't know about the other one's culture, ignorance swoops down like a vulture" (You Must Learn). And hey, white people, it's not just about "them", it makes us look bad too- when the positive accomplishments of European Americans in marching and dying alongside African Americans, Native Americans, and other non-whites, in fighting injustice are ommited it allows the already justifiably angry youth who senses the injustice of the system to "reverse" racism and feed into the "white devil" myth (that all white people are evil). More importantly, telling a school what they can and cannot teach is just crap- where will it end? We already can't teach evolution, can't teach sex- now we can't teach the History of Brown People? Does this mean we can't have a French club? What's wrong with just teaching the Truth? (by the way, I've heard that there is a Day of Solidarity with Arizona planned for the 29th, but thus far have not located a specific plan of action in Chicago.)