Sunday, November 01, 2009

Gay Marriage & Marijuana - Why You Can't Stop Either One

In a column in Newsweek that no doubt is provocative to those on the far right, Jacob Weisberg looks at the inevitability of nationally recognized same sex marriage and changes in the nation's marijuana laws. He posits that society is changing and that this change dooms the efforts of conservatives in the long run to keep same sex couples as legal inferiors and to continue to criminalize the use/possession of small amounts of marijuana use for personal use. In the case of the latter issue, I for one have never believed that marijuana use necessarily leads to other drug use. Individuals with addictive personalities/genes will become addicted if not on marijuana, then on alcohol or other legal drugs. I don't mean to sound unsympathetic towards such individuals, but the fact that some will abuse marijuana and/or become psychologically addicted should not mean that we put laws on the books that needlessly condemn many to criminal records for mere recreational use of marijuana. The situation is truly no different than with alcohol and we all know what a failure Prohibition turned out to be - except for the bootleggers who made fortunes. Likewise, the younger generation increasingly recognizes that the validating same sex relationships in no wise threatens heterosexual marriage. Indeed, it might avoid all of the divorces that arise from gays marrying straights in an effort to conform only to have it all fall apart over time. Here are some highlights:
Prohibition now is different from Prohibition then. When the 18th Amendment went into effect in 1920, it was a radical social experiment challenging a custom as old as civilization. A predictable failure—the insult to individual rights, the impossibility of enforcement, the spawning of organized crime—it came to an end in 1933. Today it is a byword for futile attempts to legislate morality and remake human nature.
Our forms of prohibition are more sins of omission than commission. Rather than trying to take away longstanding rights, they're instances of conservative laws failing to keep pace with a liberalizing society. But like Prohibition in the '20s, these restrictions have become indefensible as well as impractical, and as a result are fading fast. Within 10 years, it seems a reasonable guess that Americans will travel freely to Cuba, that all states will recognize gay unions, and that few will retain criminal penalties for marijuana use by individuals. These reforms are inevitable—not because politics has changed, but because society has.
The chief reason these prohibitions are falling away is the evolving definition of the pursuit of happiness. What's driving the legalization of gay marriage is not so much the moral argument, but the pressures from couples who want to sanctify their relationships, obtain legal benefits, and raise children in a stable environment. What's advancing the decriminalization of marijuana is not just the demand for pot as medicine but the number of adults—more than 23 million in the past year, according to the most recent government survey—who use it and don't believe they should face legal jeopardy.
The Internet has been a crucial amplifier of all such claims. With pornography and gambling, the Web itself became an irrepressible distribution tool. When it comes to gay marriage, it has accelerated the recognition of a new civil right by serving as an organizing tool and information clearinghouse. More broadly, the freest communications medium the world has ever known has raised expectations of personal liberty.
Politicians will continue to lag, rather than lead, these changes. Republicans face a risk in resisting the new realities. If the GOP remains the party of prohibition, it will increasingly alienate libertarian leaners and the young. Democrats face a different danger in embracing cultural transformations too eagerly.
I believe that Weisberg is correct in his analysis. The question, therefore, then becomes one of when will the forces of reaction and old ways of thinking will be overcome or die out?


Julián said...


Me alegra de que haya Americanos tan maduros como Tú que sean consecuentes, lógicos y racionales acerca de que las drogas no son intrinsicamente malas: la adicción a las drogas depende de la saluda mental y de personalidad de cada cual.

Aunque yo no consumo drogas, me parece totalmente absurdo invertir miles de millones de dólares como lo hace tu gobierno, en la famosa "lucha contra las drogas" que causa más males que bien alguno (especialmente en mi país Colombia, en donde se violan sistemáticamente los derechos humanos en nombre de "la lucha contra el narcotráfico)

Yo no quiero parecer anti-americano, porque no puedo juzgar a 300 millones de habitantes, pero me alegra saber que poco a poco y muy lentamente, empieza a despertar entre tu gente el sentido común en algunos temas espinosos (matrimonio gay, la legalización de algunas drogas).

Es como aquí en España, en donde el consumo de drogas es algo asumido por la sociedad, y en donde los crímenes por narcotráfico son bajisimos, aquí incluso la familia ayuda con dinero a sus hijos adictos para eviar que caigan en en la delincuencia (no es algo digno de contar, pero al menos muy pocos adictos se dedican al crímen). Fumar hachis es practicamente legal en cualquier sitio, y los Españoles no creen que el mundo se vaya a acabar si alguien fuma marihuana o hachis.

Julián said...

y otra cosa que no soy capáz de entender de tu país es esta extraña actitud:

*Los Americanos son gente muy madura y responsable que no necesita que el gobierno les diga lo que tienen que hacer: sanidad privada, bajos impuestos, pocas o ninguna regulación alimentaria, ambiental, financiera etc.

*Los europeos son infantiles, inmaduros, y adolescentes porque tienen el mal llamado "nanny state"

Pero entonces, por qué hay tanto recelo en la sociedad Americana hacia al sexo?, que los adultos no son responsables de su cuerpo y genitales?, en dónde queda el discurso de que el gobierno no debe entrometerse en la vida de los ciudadanos?, por qué la moral si debe ser regulada y no así el medio ambiente?, qué es mas peligroso para la sociedad, respirar aire contaminado lleno de amianto o tener sexo con alguien de mi mismo sexo?, por que ese odio al erotismo (no confundir con pornografía) y al nudismo?

Si somos adultos maduros y responsables como para cuidar de nosotros mismos sin ayuda del gobierno, entonces por pura lógica y sentido común, también somos responsables de nuestro cuerpo y genitales.