Recently, I have been reflecting on the war on drugs and the fight for marijuana legalization and why so many people are opposed to legalization. What is most alarming to me about this situation is the almost across-the-board lack of support from Republicans, and even vocal opposition to legalization efforts. This is incredibly troubling, if not hypocritical.
While Republicans decry the health care bill as an attack on our rights, as unconstitutional, and opposed to our liberties because of a possible mandate, they at the same time argue that the governments complete ban on a substance, even if it used by an adult in their own home. If you believe the government has the right to dictate what an adult does in their own home to their own body, you ultimately believe that the government owns the citizens.
This philosophy that Republicans abide by via their support for the war on drugs makes many of their arguments against health care ironic. It’s not that I disagree with their views on health care, by all means I am opposed to government-run health care, but this “picking and choosing” of when the government can become pervasive and counter to a liberty-oriented philosophy of rights is simply not consistent.
I have never smoked marijuana. My support for marijuana legalization does not come from a desire to use the substance myself, but from a belief that the government’s role is not to make decisions about what we do to ourselves. Think of it this way – drinking alcohol is not a crime; drinking alcohol and then driving and running someone over is. Smoking marijuana should not be a crime; smoking marijuana and then killing someone is. Marijuana in and of itself is not a crime, nor is the consumption of it. The fact that we put people in prison for possessing a plant, while at the same time call ourselves a “free nation,” is extremely ironic.
It certainly isn’t news that Rick Santorum doesn’t care much for gay people, and he certainly doesn’t lie outside of the mainstream Republican view on gay marriage. What is slightly unorthodox about Santorum’s approach is his view of the government’s role in changing society. Fearful of the “consequence to society of changing this definition” of marriage, the former senator believes that government should have an active role in molding society’s view of gay marriage. Proof of that came when he was asked if he thought he could combat an increasing acceptance of gay marriage:
Christopher Patton, a Gary Johnson supporter, stopped Santorum as he approached his table and asked the candidate if he really felt he could “turn back the clock” on progress for gay marriage, considering that some polls show that a majority of Iowans under 30 years of age support it.
“Yeah, I do,” he replied.
It’s one thing to be intolerant of something and even to speak out against it publicly in an effort to persuade others – everyone is entitled to freedom of speech – but to use the power of government to force the masses to adhere to your set of morals is the textbook definition of bigotry.
With two Supreme Court decisions in the last few years affirming the Founding Fathers view that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to gun ownership, Gallup reports that Americans opposition to gun control laws are at a record low:
A record-low 26% of Americans favor a legal ban on the possession of handguns in the United States other than by police and other authorized people. When Gallup first asked Americans this question in 1959, 60% favored banning handguns. But since 1975, the majority of Americans have opposed such a measure, with opposition around 70% in recent years.
The results are based on Gallup’s annual Crime poll, conducted Oct. 6-9. This year’s poll finds support for a variety of gun-control measures at historical lows, including the ban on handguns, which is Gallup’s longest continuing gun-control trend.
For the first time, Gallup finds greater opposition to than support for a ban on semiautomatic guns or assault rifles, 53% to 43%. In the initial asking of this question in 1996, the numbers were nearly reversed, with 57% for and 42% against an assault rifle ban. Congress passed such a ban in 1994, but the law expired when Congress did not act to renew it in 2004. Around the time the law expired, Americans were about evenly divided in their views.
FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, is a little upset right now. I don’t blame them either. You see, for a group that supports individual rights in education, the new directive coming down from Uncle Sam has got to be a slap in the face. You see, sexual assault and sexual harassment are serious issues. However, now the federal government believes that the whole “without a reasonable doubt” thing is just to much trouble.
The new standard is called “preponderance of the evidence” standard. Sounds like the same thing, right? Not according to FIRE.
In response to new federal regulations announced last month that require colleges and universities to dramatically reduce students’ due process rights, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) today sent an open letter to the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) sharply criticizing the agency’s new requirements. Under the new regulations, announced in an April 4, 2011, letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali, colleges and universities receiving federal funding must employ a “preponderance of the evidence” standard—a 50.01%, “more likely than not” evidentiary burden—when adjudicating student complaints concerning sexual harassment or sexual violence. Institutions that do not comply face federal investigation and the loss of federal funding.
I generally don’t care about the personal arrangements between two people. It’s none of my business unless it infringes on the rights of another. When I read this from CNN yesterday, I had found that one thing that crosses any lines and should unite every single American regardless of ideology:
From a thriving industry in southeast Asia, the catch might end up on dinner plates almost anywhere in the world.
But you might be shocked to know how these fish are caught. Sometimes the boats are floating prisons crewed by slaves.
While it must be acknowledged that the United States has its own history of slavery, it was brought to an abrupt ending over a century and a half ago. It was later than it should have been ended though. The idea of slavery existing today is something we, ad a people, have difficulty believing. After all, this is the 21st century. Slavery is a tool for movies, used to make the bad guys seem even more evil. Unfortunately, it’s clear evil exists in this modern world.
There are few things that deserve to have the heavy hand of force leveled against it, it is slavery. It’s my most sincere hope that something can be done and freedom given to these poor souls. While we in this nation may not be truly free, we are infinitely more free than these poor people.
Did I get your attention yet? If you are wondering what these chronically ill individuals would have done that is so heinous that I would want them to suffer in prison, you might be a little shocked to hear what it is: they smoked a plant!
Paul Armentano wrote a great piece over at Alternet.org about the recent transition of power in Washington D.C. and how they have dealt with marijuana law reform. Needless to say, nothing major (or minor, really) has been done in favor of either decriminalization or legalization for either medicinal or recreational use of cannabis.
The general partisan positions concerning marijuana law is: Liberals in favor of decriminalizing/legalizing marijuana, while Conservatives have been against changing the current drug laws and continuing the costly war on drugs. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has recently voiced her support of marijuana law reform, but said that there is work that needs to be done outside of Congress before such action can be taken. Other Democrats have also voiced their support of reform.