Yes, I’ll admit it; I have been listening to a great deal of Bob Dylan lately. And yes, I have been reading a great deal of Milton Friedman recently. Nevertheless, please do not mistake the ensuing enthusiasm for hyperbole or pretense. If I am anything, it is sincere.
As a person who actively practices the scientific method, there is very little that I can say that I ‘believe’, in the sense that I’m certain about an issue with little but feeling as justification. But, if there is one thing that I do believe, it is that a person should have the right to do as he or she sees fit so long as there does not involve any harm done to an innocent, secondary party. I am not sure of the meta-ethical implications of this sentiment. Is it selfish in that the liberties I am promoting are purely for one’s self? Or is it selfless in that I wish this freedom for every person? Regardless, it is a notion which is widely held as conviction and nearly universally held as pretense. Coincidentally, this is the choice which we Californians face this Nov. 2 in the form of Proposition 19. Will we be a country of shallow, logically inconsistent pretense or one of reasoned, tolerant conviction?
I will not here enumerate all of the practical arguments in favor of legalization, for they are far too many and easily discoverable for those who wish to find them. But, just for schadenfreude’s sake, alcohol-related vehicular fatalities in the state of California exceeded 11,000 in 2009 alone. This is not to mention the ever-present tragedy of alcohol poisoning that has become so ignominious across our nation’s university campuses. Regarding tobacco, the statistics are an order of magnitude larger. Lastly, the amount of money saved on needless enforcement and prosecution coupled with the potential tax revenues are an enormous burden off the shoulders of the state, and therefore the citizens of California.
Yet, the aforementioned are tangential motivations for legalization. The question in essence is not one of economics, the economic aspects are well-defined in favor of the liberal position, the question of legalization is primarily a moral one. Shall we engage in the generational ritual of freeing ourselves from the myopia of our forebears? Shall we move further down the avenues of societal progress and individual liberty? Or, shall we further languish in our own tepid pool of moral apathy?
The reply to this final question does not have to be audible; in fact our indifference is the only manner in which the reply will be affirmative. The issue of legalization is not simply pertinent to puritans and stoners; the issue is one of personal civil liberty and the potential consequences of allowing the tyranny of the self-righteous to continue its march towards sterile asceticism. Please friends, do not let our voices go unheard.