Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Sound of Silence

Today marked the first of many debates in the California 2010 election. While all candidates performed admirably, the debate also provided an opportunity for candidates to betray flaws in both their own logic and in their respective parties' platforms. In particular, the issue of the legalization of marijuana proved to be, as expected, an issue of both controversy and pertinence.

When faced with the topic of Proposition 19, all three socially liberal parties (Democrats, Greens, and Libertarians) took stances in favor of legalization. In response, and much to no one's surprise, the Tea Party's Chuck DeVore took a heavily anti-legalization position, citing drunk driving accidents and DUIs as allegedly incontestable evidence against Prop 19. However, I'd like to raise a point -- Mr. DeVore's logic here is flawed. His argument against the legalization of marijuana appears to lean heavily on the tragic number of alcohol-related traffic accidents and deaths, but the conclusion he reaches from this information (that marijuana needs to stay illegal) doesn't logically follow. Mr. DeVore, might I remind you that the logical action to take against drunk driving would be to restrict alcohol? But no, that would be another expansion of the same government powers that you so fervently claim to stand against. Citing DUIs as a reason to vote no on Prop 19 is like saying that people get hurt playing hockey, so they shouldn't play baseball. It's a non sequitur.

While I'm on the subject of social policy, I have another bone to pick with the Tea Party platform. The Tea Partiers like to tell people that they remain silent on social issues out of respect for individual civil liberties (i.e. same-sex marriage), but what about those other civil freedoms like the right to smoke marijuana or to have an abortion? The official Tea Party mantra is "fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets;" it is here that I'd like to point out the convenient lack of any substantial stance on pressing social issues from the Tea Party platform. Meanwhile, Chuck DeVore stood on stage demanding government restriction on birth control, on immigration, and on personal freedoms. They like to present themselves to be great advocates of smaller, less intrusive government, but they support the government alienation of the most unalienable of rights: the right to choose.

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