I am a pragmatist. Sometimes.

You know, I’m still kind of idealistic. I’m pushing 30, but I keep a bit of that idealistic vigor in a bottle somewhere. You see, I’m idealistic about pragmatism. I think it can work, at least most of the time.

I keep looking at the things we ban, or try to hide, or ignore as a society. We ban drugs. We try to hide racial hatred and racial discrimination. We try to ignore sexual abuse in families. Instead we play mind and word games while the epidemics rage one.

Trying to address these problems ideologically isn’t working. Pushing drug culture underground has only nurtured a system of gang violence and disease. Pushing racial hatred underground merely makes it fester. Ignoring sexual abuse in families turns the threat inside out to a hysterical fear of the mythical predator.

These are only three of a long list of problems and issues that we can’t seem to fix by beating on them with the ideological stick. There are many more (teen pregnancy, anyone?).

I think the American “founding fathers” got this one right. You get to say whatever you like. Your ideas go into the public square, where if you’ve said something supremely stupid others can tell you that you’re stupid. There can be an argument. There can be a discussion. The racist can perhaps be convinced he is wrong.

In the same vein, let people shoot up as they wish. But stop treating addiction like a law enforcement problem, and instead treat it like the medical problem it is. Strip away the culture of drug violence. Help prevent disease.

Stop fearing sexual abuse by predators on the street. The biggest threat of sexual abuse is from the people you know. Face this fact. Deal with it. Talk about it.

I’m idealistic about treating these problems with the things that get the best results. Yes, sometimes the ends do justify the means, especially if the end result of the means is merely knocking down a collection of cultural hang-ups that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

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