Fulcrum Ruminations

Friday, February 25, 2005

Starting Positions

Got this from elsewhere on the web. Here's a quick rundown of my veiws on some "hot button" issues of the day.

Abortion. Not having a uterus myself, I don't think my opinion means a whole lot. But . . .
The "debate" is frequently, and incorrectly, framed in terms of "when does life begin." Obviously, life begins when the fertilized egg begins to divide itself, thereby satisfying all the basic requirements of life. The real question is "when does that life become a person?" To my mind this occurs when the brain begins organized neurological activity . . . recognizable brainwave patterns. After that, abortion should be disallowed unless the life of the mother is in jeopardy.

Prostitution. Legalize it. Regulate it. Clean it up, make it safe. There's no crime being committed, provided all parties are of legal age.

Alcohol. Responsible use is harmless.

Marijuana. In principle I'd like to see it legalized, as that would chop the legs out from under a lot of street crime. However, pot is a dangerous substance. It has long-term effects on brain chemistry, kidney function, reproductive organs, and liver function. The smoke is from three to ten times as toxic as tobacco smoke, depending on whose stats you believe. Probably it should be legal but regulated even more tightly than tobacco or alcohol.

Other (currently illicit) drugs. There are a few that could be legalized, but many of them are illegal for a good reason: they're really bad for you. Personally, I'd legalize almost all of them, but users would forfeit any claim on publically funded health care.

Gay marriage. "Marriage" is a religious institution. It is subject to religious guidelines. That said, if gay people want the same sort of benefits that accrue to married heteros, I don't see any reason to deny them. Call it a civil union to make the fundies happy, but leave the poor bastards alone if they really want to saddle themselves with divorce lawyers and in-laws.

Illegal immigrants. There's a well-established mechanism by which foreigners can become US citizens. Use it. If not, the hell with you. You're a criminal and your ass should be shipped back where you came from.

Smoking. It's currently legal, and making it illegal would work about as well as prohibition did back in the twenties. That said, people who think lighting dried leaves on fire and breathing in the smoke is a good idea are obviously brain damaged.

Drunk driving. A DUI/DWI should be an automatic loss of driver's license. No ifs, ands, or buts. For one year. Do it again and that year will be spent in public service under supervision, picking up trash along the highway. Third time, a year in prison. If you killed anyone while driving drunk, you should get twenty years in prison at minimum.

Cloning. It's inevitable, so we should be sensible about it. At base it's just another medical procedure, so it should be regulated as such.

Racism. I have no tolerance for it.

Premarital sex. It has always happened, it always will happen. Deal with it. There's nothing wrong with it so long as everyone involved is of legal age.

Religion. A source of great strength and comfort for many people. BUT - religion seems to be the point where ritual becomes more important than faith. I think faith is the real core of the religious experience.

The war in Iraq. Sold to us on false premises. But now that we've made the mess, we are responsible for cleaning it up. And so far, we've been doing all right. The mainstream press, with its "if it bleeds it leads" standard, has not been giving us much coverage of what's been going right in Iraq (and Afghanistan). More fun to count casualties, I guess. But in both countries, elections have been held and reconstruction is proceeding.

President Bush. He has shown himself untrustworthy and no conservative. Running up insane deficits, launching a war on false pretenses, poor policy decisions . . . no. I didn't vote for him for those reasons.

Downloading music. Never done it. Artists should be paid for their efforts, if they want to be. If they want to share for free, that's their choice. Record companies are hives of weasels who take the lion's share of the profit from other people's work. Online distribution of music by the artist directly is the way to go.

The legal drinking age. I favor an "age of majority" wherein all adult rights and responsibilities begin. Call it 18 just because. Voting, drinking, military service, all that good stuff.

Porn. Generally harmless. Covered by the First Amendment. Leave it be, as long as those participating are of legal age and uncoerced.

Suicide. While I can envision some circumstances where it might be justifiable, for the most part suicide is the coward's way out. Stand up, stick out your chin, and yell "Come get some!!" Don't slink off to open your veins.


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