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Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Will of the People

The photos are of my actual ballot in the recent Washington State election.  A few simple words on a piece of paper and suddenly the course of history has changed. A proposal is put before the legislature and then presented to the voters: the citizens, the people for whom all laws are written. The voters of Washington State had the good sense to pass both bills which set in place the legalization of marijuana for recreational use and allows same-sex couples to marry. My only question is this: what the fuck took so long for both of these measures to make it to a vote? This is one of the few instances where politicians have done their job which is to carry out the will of the people. This is the essence of democracy, this is democracy at its best, this is a proud moment.
These issues are hardly news in other parts of the world. Spain has had legal marriage for same-sex couples since 2005 and marijuana has at least been decriminalized in other places for quite a while. This may be ancient history for some but even if we are a little late at least the citizens of Washington State are on the right side of history.  The Catholic Church continues its mediaeval policy against homosexuality while denying women even a modicum of dignity or representation in church hierarchy. This certainly isn't the first time the Church backed the wrong side in the course of human history. Religion, in general, is and has been consistently on the wrong side of history.

But why should we stop here? I read recently that for the first time in decades America’s prison population is in decline. I say that we should hasten this trend by putting forth another proposal to voters that would strike down all mandatory sentencing, reserve prison cells only for violent offenders, and basically try to adhere to the words of our Constitution which forbids cruel and unusual punishment.

While we are dreaming how about proposing a law that ensures the rights and safety of cyclists in city traffic? As I have said on countless occasions, it drives me crazy when we search for answers to problems we have already solved. Most of the issues involved in providing transportation we solved over 150 years ago with the advent of the train and bicycle, two of the most efficient means of transport ever conceived.

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