This November, the people of California will vote on whether or not to officially legalize marijuana for public consumption. The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, if passed, will make California the first U.S. state to legalize cannabis and may spark a nationwide debate on drug control policy.
There are two main arguments being made in favor of this initiative. One is that the state should legalize marijuana because the laws prohibiting it are silly and irrational, having accomplished little other than promoting a violent illegal trade, undermining common respect for the police and the rule of law, needlessly turning millions of perfectly sane and productive people into criminals, and so on and so forth.
However, it’s no mystery why the initiative is first reaching the mainstream now, and why in California. Which brings me to the second argument in favor of this bill. It goes like this:
“Look, we’re not saying that legalizing marijuana is necessarily the right thing to do, and we have considered the possibility that this will turn the bulk of our population into lazy, stupid, violent sex maniacs, but, uh, we are out of money. And as it turns out, scruples are a luxury item we can’t really afford anymore. Seriously. It’s either this or we just turn off the power for the next couple of months.”
With this in mind, the bill contains provisions that will allow taxes to be applied to the sale of marijuana on a local as well as a state basis. This may provide a big boost to the ailing economy on both levels. Advocates also cite the positive impact that marijuana legalization will have on the state’s badly overcrowded prison system. However, the unavoidable truth of the matter is that legalizing marijuana falls woefully short as a solution to either problem.
America, these are desperate times, and I’m beginning to think that our measures just aren’t desperate enough. If we are to counter the many negative factors currently affecting our economy, we’re going to have to do something drastic. Luckily, it turns out that our values are worth money, and if we’re having a yard sale, we might as well go all the way. I guess what I’m saying is — isn’t it time we start talking about legalizing violence?
Now I know what you’re thinking, and don’t worry; I’m not talking about legalizing all violence. Some things, I think you’ll agree, are simply beyond the pale. Therefore, I’m proposing we begin by only allowing certain kinds of violence (say, anything you’re allowed to do onscreen in a PG-13 film) and then see where that takes us.
So, for example: cutting someone in half with one of those two-man lumberjack saws would still be illegal. The same goes for skinning them alive or pulling them inside out with some manner of powerful suction device (I’m not sure how this would work, but I expect that it would be pretty gross). Shootings and stabbings are okay, depending on how much the victim bleeds, or whether their resultant verbal exclamations are appropriate (e.g. “ouch!”) or not (e.g. “Hey, what the fuck was that for?”). After all, many violent crimes are committed in public spaces, where children might see.
For that matter, many will be concerned about rates of violence skyrocketing in their own neighborhoods, so perhaps it would be advisable to, at least at first, limit legalization to only a few specific areas (say, areas where poor people live). Violence-free zones will be clearly marked in the traditional fashion, with a regular distribution of posted signs depicting stick figures doing something ambiguous inside of a red circle bisected by a diagonal line.
Now — and this is where many of the benefits of this proposal lie — the things we do legalize, we tax at a significant rate per instance. Those who take advantage of legalized violence will be required to keep detailed records and declare annual violence on a special tax form with blanks assigned to different violent acts (one line for vehicular homicides, one for poison dart attacks, etc.). Homicide units will remain intact, but be subordinated by the IRS in order to prevent tax evasion. This way, we can also avoid losing government jobs.
Aside from the additional tax revenue this represents, imagine all the new entrepreneurial opportunities that could be created. Guided safaris of East St. Louis and Detroit will bring in wealthy thrillseekers from around the globe, come in hopes of hunting the most dangerous game — underprivileged minorities. Violent tourism could provide a much-needed injection of currency into some of our most destitute local economies.
Finally, the legalization of violence would also virtually eliminate the problem of prison overcrowding. We could take thousands of violent offenders off of our government’s hands, getting them on to the streets and out of our hair. This would free up all kinds of extra space for crack addicts and people who burn the American flag. Not only will we have ended our economic woes, we’ll have solved the crime problem as well.
America, we stand here today in danger of being cast beneath the rising tide of the brave new world in which we live. I know that my ideas may seem radical, but if we are to maintain our position as a global leader at the forefront of innovation, a radical approach is necessary. While there are many things to be said for holding true to one’s principles, doing so at the cost of economic expediency is not only foolish, it is unpatriotic. Remember: this may not be the only solution to our current woes. Or even the best. But it’s almost certainly the most convenient.