Dynamo Dave Sherman was wanting to turn this into a meme, and, well, I haven't done a position paper in the last couple of minutes, so....

Abortion?

The kindest thing I can say about it is that it's kind of gruesome. Then again, even Dr Tom Coburn, an implacable foe of abortion, has done two of them — it was a choice, he said, between saving one life or losing two — which suggests that there is a place for the procedure, under exceedingly rare conditions. The current insistence by abortion proponents that it be allowed to anyone at anytime for any reason, however, gets thumbs down from me.

Death penalty?

Gut reaction: I don't like it, but I've never been able to argue convincingly for either side. I suppose one could consider it barbaric, but so are the crimes which call for its imposition. In the past, we have not done a good job establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt — but this is not a problem with the penalty itself, only with the procedures leading up to it. Public sentiment seems to be firmly in support of capital punishment; I don't feel compelled to oppose it, despite my qualms.

Prostitution?

It is one of the many wonders of free enterprise that some people can make money selling what other people routinely give away. And while it strikes me as a fairly distasteful way to make a living, so is emptying the grease trap under a fast-food joint.

Alcohol?

The bane of American existence, and a boon to its social gatherings. In general, I follow Mark Twain's dictum — if others are drinking I like to help, otherwise I remain dry — but since acute sensitivity to the stuff runs in the family, I have to maintain very strict limits on my consumption. So far, I have had no problems. Then again, partywise, I am more vegetable than animal.

Marijuana?

Pat Paulsen, in his 1968 Presidential campaign, said the most sensible thing I've ever heard on the subject: "I think marijuana should be licensed and kept out of the hands of teenagers. I think it's too good for 'em." I must point out here that I have never done so much as the lamest grade of Oaxacan ditch weed; however, I can think of no useful reason to prosecute someone who has unless he subsequently commits some actual crime. (Consider the example of DWI. Drinking isn't illegal if you're old enough. However, operating a motor vehicle while three sheets to the wind is prosecutable.)

Other drugs?

See above. Interdiction efforts, quite apart from their inability to recognize the laws of supply and demand, don't actually work; they exist largely because the government would like to be able to bust you for something. Meanwhile, legitimate users (Disclosure: I am prescribed tranqs) are forced to jump through unnecessary procedural hoops.

Gay marriage?

Simple fairness would seem to demand that we allow it. The problem, as I see it, is that it opens a whole can of legal worms that won't easily be coaxed back under the lid; as Justin Katz writes, "It's hardly even arguable, anymore, that the movement that would bring gay marriage is likely to dilute civil marriage out of existence, one way or another. From the religious perspective, as I've written before, either the movement will seek to force churches and synagogs to perform the ceremonies, or they will seek to make religious ceremonies irrelevant in the civil sphere." It will happen, eventually, I suspect, but the legal wrangling will outlive you and me.

Illegal immigrants?

Um, there's a reason they're called illegal immigrants. I'm a big fan of the American melting pot, and I'd hate to see us close down the borders, but dammit, were I a legal immigrant, I'd be rather peeved that a bunch of people who didn't follow the rules were causing suspicion to be cast upon me — "Is he or isn't he?" — and I'd resent the idea that they might be granted privileges of citizenship that I had to work for.

Smoking?

I never touch the stuff, and eventually it's going to kill my dad, but it's what you call a Known Quantity: it comes with risks, and everyone already knows this or has already appeared as a plaintiff in an effort to pry money out of tobacco companies. Our governmental units have gone schizo: they'd like to ban tobacco for health reasons, but they need tobacco tax money and tobacco settlement money for their other pet projects. Meanwhile, smokers themselves are relegated to pariah status, eventually to be joined by people who eat Big Macs and who drink anything stronger than white zin.

Drunk driving?

I'm just going to quote Dave here: "Step 1: Revoke license. Step 2: Imprisonment, ideally for a period of not less than one year. Step 3: Community Service for a period not to exceed one year, upon release from prison. Step 4: Do it again, you're locked up for ten years. And if you KILL someone while driving under the influence, life in prison, no parole. If you seriously injure someone while driving under the influence, you get to be the eternal servant for that person and his/her family." Works for me, though I might actually combine Steps 1 and 2, and by the time you reach Step 3, you probably shouldn't even be allowed to own a car.

Cloning?

It's on the way. We've been screwing around with genetics since about ten minutes after Luther Burbank; the only difference today is that we've gotten more proficient at it, and we're getting better, or at least less-unpredictable, results. To those who argue that we're "playing God," I answer: "Should God actually object, we will know about it soon enough."

Racism?

The least-impressive invention of mankind, and the hardest to defend. What's worse, the people who scream the loudest about its ubiquity are doing a bang-up job of prolonging its existence. (Why? If every last vestige of racism disappeared overnight, a lot of people would be out of a job.)

Premarital sex?

Until I got married, this was the only kind I ever had. And since my divorce — well, the very word assumes I'm getting married again, doesn't it? Weird. There is marriage, and there is sex, and the two complement each other; take away one and the other is somehow incomplete. I am, of course, willing to be shown how wrong I am. :)

Religion?

I have generally characterized myself as a "wishy-washy Deist," persuaded of the existence of the Divine but unwilling to slap a label on It. Most of my religious training was at the hands of the Roman Catholics; I am grateful for their efforts, but not all of it "took." And my concept of the Almighty pretty much insists that if I think I've figured everything out, somewhere I've made a mistake. Mysterious ways, and all that.

The war in Iraq?

A for concept, C-plus for execution, and the prospectus was really badly botched. Still, it comes out on the positive side of the ledger, and the removal of Saddam serves as a subtle reminder to the other half-crazed despots in the region. Followers of the Edwin Starr school of thought will, of course, disagree.

Bush?

Nice guy, perhaps a little out of his depth, but better-focused than most, and his instincts are pretty sound; if he weren't so anxious to show that he can spend every bit as much money as a Democrat, I might actually vote for him.

Downloading music?

It's the end of the world as the music industry knows it: their business model depends on selling two good songs and nine bad ones for $15. I'm not going to sign up for one of the download services, though, until one of them starts catering to my particular interest: low-charting pop records that no one will probably ever compile into a CD.

The legal drinking age?

It should be the same as the legal age for everything else: eighteen. You can argue all you like that 19-year-olds can't handle the stuff; neither can some 49-year-olds.

Porn?

Generally doesn't do a thing for me. There are only so many body parts, and they can be made to perform only so many functions. It is, however, one of the few professions in which tall men are at a disadvantage: seven inches of wood will look more impressive on someone five-eight than it will on someone six-three.

Suicide?

A tragedy, perhaps; a basic human right, almost definitely. I've been too close to the edge before, and I don't want to go there again — and I don't want to call a suicide hotline and be put on hold, which actually did happen to me — but I suspect that our life choices inevitably inform the manner of our deaths, which suggests that we all take our own lives in the long run. Some people just won't wait.

The Vent

#399
  1 August 2004



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