Wednesday, January 22, 2003

So here we are on the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It may be obvious from my previous rant about Bush's anti-women intiatives that I support this landmark decision and I just can't resist saying something about it.

I am actually horrified that this even had to be decided. After all, women have controlled their own birth rate, one way or another, for all of history. Now, because of contraceptives, we're much better at it and hopefully don't need too many abortions but I'd say abortion beats the older methods of infanticide. I also find it interesting that there was no need to regulate reproductive choice before gynocology became a medical specialty. Before that, women and their midwifes took care of their "women's business" and kept that all to themselves. When men entered into gynocology as doctors, they were apparently shocked to learn that women had been doing this (although women were left with little choice being not allowed to refuse sex to their husbands at the time) and immediately enacted laws regulating women's bodies for them. I guess the women were too morally and mentally weak to do this themselves. Thank god we have men looking out for our best interest.

Anyway, this reminds me of another issue that has to do with making decisions about our own bodies but Uncle Sam finds us incapable and has to help us out: drug use. I'll start with pot but I'll warn you, I'm going to go right over the deep end and apply the same principles to other drugs but hear me out. You can always tell me to go to hell. (Hurray to comment power!) So I have always wondered, why does the government give a shit if I smoke a little pot? Or a lot of pot? They don't care if I drink myself to death or smoke myself to death, even though both of those create an enormouse expense for taxpayers and HMO members alike. Who does smoking pot hurt? No one. Not even me, as it turns out. So, why is it illegal? One idea is that it became illegal as a way to put Mexicans in jail in the southwest because the racist yokels living there couldn't find any other way to get rid of them. Another argument is that it's a gateway drug to other drugs. I know a lot of people that either do smoke a little happy weed, or have in the past (Bill Clinton). But these people weren't somehow amorphized into hardcore cocaine users (Bush II). They aren't the ones becoming crack and pill users (Jenna Bush). They went to college, smoked a little ganja, and then became successful, productive people who are probably more likely to drink too much or smoke cigarettes to death rather than tumble down this downward spiral that officials like to deem inevitable. If anything is going to make pot into a gateway drug, it's the lies that government officials tell about it. A kid says, "Wow, my parents/school/police told me that pot will make me into a homicidal maniac who has no future because it will turn me into a drug addict criminal from the first puff. But I tried it and they lied! I can still get good grades and conform sufficiently to society. What else have they lied about? Cocaine? Heroin? Unprotected sex?" (Ok, a little stretch there.) Anyway, look at all these kids that died from heroin overdoses in Texas a few years ago that didn't even know they were doing heroin. It's dangerous to lump pot with others and it's dangerous to misinform people of the effects and consequences of its use.

Now for the deep end. Why are any drugs illegal? Isn't it possible that creating laws that criminalize the use of drugs (victimless crime, by the way) just make more criminals and support organized crime? If someone is an alcoholic (a legal drug) and they seek treatment and help, people are supportive and congratulative. If a crackhead or a junkie seeks treatment and help, they are stigmatized for being a crackhead or a junkie. What is their motivation for seeking help? Our job should be to attempt to prevent people from becoming drug addicts in the first place through honest education, after school programs, etc. and to help those that want help to get off it. The only thing that the illegalization of drugs accomplishes is making drug dealers extremely wealthy through untaxed revenue, encouraging violence by these same people in order to maintain such a lucrative black market, and preventing people from changing their situation because of the stigma attached to their state-created criminality. What does this accomplish?

If you say, well drug users commit robberies and other crimes. Robbery is already illegal, prosecute that. "Drug users don't take care of their kids." That's what social services is for and it certainly isn't limited to drug using parents. Child abuse and neglect is already illegal. Drug abuse is a health problem, as is all addiction. If they weren't addicted to drugs, it would probably be something else. Jail isn't the answer, a fact that a staunch pro-drug war Jeb Bush realizes since he pulled strings to get his daughter into treatment instead of jail.

Legislating the way we choose to treat our own bodies isn't the answer in any case. And if it is, if we determine that it's the business of the state to legislate the health of our bodies, then in order to not be hypocritical, fast food, cigarettes, alcohol, Krispy Kremes, smog and bacon should all be illegal. Hey, the great thing about this new system is that it'll save an enormous amount of money currently spent on health care just in time to give it all via tax breaks to the wealthy!

By the way, support the continued right of women to control their own reproduction through a legislative act so Roe v. Wade becomes permanent and guaranteed.

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