Saturday, October 27, 2012

Let's Talk Storms. And Politics!

It seems that Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on the entire east coast right now, so at my place we're sitting around enjoying our electricity and internet while we can.

It somewhat reminds me of what we decided to call the Best Trip Ever (positive thinking!), when I visited my sister in Jamaica right when Hurricane Dean was coming through. She was in the Peace Corps at the time, and we found ourselves holed up in the US Embassy in Kingston for a couple of days, sleeping on the floor in someone's cubicle, freezing cold because the air conditioner was set way high and we had foolishly not packed warm clothes to visit or live in Jamaica.

Good times.

I don't really anticipate Sandy being quite that exciting once it reaches the Boston area, but you never know. Mainly, I hope lingering power outages don't interfere with the election.

I'm eager to get votin,' not only because of this whole presidency thing we've got going on right now in the United States, but also because we have all kinds of interesting ballot questions in Massachusetts.

Check it out: We've got medical marijuana, assisted dying, and something about requiring car manufacturers to make repair information available to the owner, not just to licensed dealers.

I don't own a car, so I don't really know much about this last one, but as a librarian I guess I pretty much have to vote for freely available information. I should probably try to get a copy for the collection, too.

As for medical marijuana and assisted dying, yeah, if anyone cares about my politics I'm going with yes for both.

The medical marijuana opponents are arguing that medical use is just a wedge, and will lead to looser laws regarding marijuana in general, and I say "not necessarily, but frankly I hope it does." I just think marijuana is a stupid thing for law enforcement to be spending time on and for people to be going to jail for.

And if you're worried about the slippery slope and fear that if we decriminalize marijuana in any way, next thing you know toddlers will be buying crack cocaine out of vending machines in the subway station?

Nah. I think it's possibly to draw a legal line between marijuana and cocaine. As evidence, I will point out that we have maintained a legal line between marijuana (illegal) and alcohol (legal) for many years! And you cannot try to pretend that alcohol is not a drug, frequently abused, with profound consequences for society. Easily as significant, I would argue, as the consequences of marijuana use.

Good people, I don't smoke marijuana, so personally it doesn't even matter to me, but it is my nonsmoker's opinion that we should be decriminalizing marijuana at a rapid pace, and that is my political statement of the day.

Oh, except I also have a second political statement of the day, which is, I would really like the option to be available for me to die at a time of my choosing rather than just waiting around for my body to suffocate me or whatever if I happen to come down with some horrible fatal condition, so I am pro-assisted dying.

And if you're worried about the slippery slope and fear that if we legalize physician-prescribed medication to end life, next thing you know toddlers will be buying suicide pills out of vending machines in the subway station?

Or, more to the point, the toddler's parents will be urging grandma to take the suicide pills so as not to eat into their inheritance with healthcare costs?

OK, I actually don't want to be as flippant about this one, because I think there are legitimate questions about, say, whether death is really the best option in cases of incurable illness, or only the best option given the lousy support systems in place to care for people with incurable illness. I can see having reservations about this.

We certainly don't want suicide to become "the logical choice" that gets pushed on people because it's convenient for other people.

Still, I think that denying all people the option to make that choice because some of them might be constrained by material considerations, and calling it good (rather than, say, working on the systems that might make the material considerations less pressing) is a cop out.

Also, I think it's entirely possible to value one person's choice to die, and another person's choice to live, if both have similar diagnoses. If I have the right to request medication to end life, that doesn't mean I have to take it. And if I decide to take it, while you, with an equally grim prognosis, decide to wait for the end to arrive naturally? I totally support you in that.

Basically it comes down to this: Choice. I am for it.

Also freely available information, the better to allow for educated choice. In car repair, as in life.

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