Social Issues

Harmony is natural. Life exists in balance. Balance is equality. Equality allows for freedom. Freedom gives birth to infinite possibility, opportunity for all.

Humanity lives, thrives, and advances through the support of one another. The self-evident Truths of the Declaration of Independence resonate with our very souls, as difficult to ignore as the divine word, Itself. Such is the foundation of our lives, these unalienable Rights given to us. Thus, when we tackle "social" issues, we tackle them through the lens of humanity and what might be best for all humanity. The solutions must transcend personal desire. Being a nation of freedom requires it for freedom is all-encompassing, maximizing potential without oppression or suppression. Our freedom begins in the balance and harmony of those basic human rights.

In no particular order, my stances on these social issues-

Human Rights
Sex Education
Abortions / Planned Parenthood
Religious Freedom
Climate Change
War of Drugs
Guns

Human Rights

I fully support equality amongst all human beings regardless of age, race, gender, religion, sexuality, movie likes, music tastes, favorite Street Fighter II character, etc. If you are a human being, you are equal. No discrimination. No restrictions. You have the right to live, to love, to be honored, and to be happy. It's as simple as that. Any inequality that may occur would be based in douchebaggery conduct. Being a jackass is universal, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, sexuality, etc. The only way I'd think less of you is if you did something a jerk would do, like kick a puppy.

Let me specially talk about LGBT marriage for a moment. I have no idea what people refer to as "traditional" (well, yes I do, but I think that's silly). To me, marriage represents the joining of two halves of a soul separated over time. It has been that way for centuries with troubadours, poets, and more extolling the virtues of love and marriage. Whether that means a man and a woman, a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, it doesn't matter. Our souls, our divine essence has no gender... but it does have love. Marriage is supposed to be based in love, not in ritual formality. If you love someone enough to get married, I support you no matter who you are.

At the same time, even though we have established the right to marry, that does not remove the possibility of discrimination.1 Many states have no discrimination protection for sexual orientation or gender identity. What good is allowing love to blossom into marriage if it means losing your jobs? I don't stand for that and want to see discrimination tackled in every state. Recognition of our unalienable Rights- particularly love, honor, and the pursuit of happiness- demands it.

Sex Education

If you can find me a teenage boy who never experiences horniness, I'll buy you a unicorn.

I don't know why biology works the way it does, why boys and girls start getting the itch at puberty. That kind of knowledge and research is far beyond my pay-grade. But Mother Nature has programmed us this way, for better or worse. It makes us do stupid things at times, especially when we're young. Thus, the need for sex education so that kids know what they're getting into (pun not intended). And this leads to the question of "should it be taught? If so, who should teach it?"

Sex education should be taught. It's necessary for understanding how things work, learning about STD's, and more. Should parents teach all that? They're welcome to try, but I'm not sure how many teenagers are comfortable talking about sex, penises, vaginas, and STD's with their parents. I never had that discussion with my parents. Instead, I had a sex ed class in 10th grade, a good time to have it in my opinion as most kids hit puberty by then and they don't have access to a car. I was 15 in 10th grade and we were shown pictures of things, taught about STD's, taught about contraceptives, and reinforced with the concept of abstinence. School education is more appropriate in my opinion because of accessibility to an adult not related to you that can help answer questions you might have on the subject. I understand it can be intimidating/embarrassing to ask questions in such classes when your classmates all giggle/laugh/mock anything related to sex (kids are kids), hence the need for a non-parent adult to convey info and offer support.

Abortions / Planned Parenthood

I'm not a woman. I won't pretend or even suggest I know or understand what a woman might be going through in regards to the abortion decision. I can imagine how I might feel as a man if I was with someone who'd want to have an abortion, but that is very much not the same. At all.

If you are going to have sex and don't want a kid, practice safe sex. Use contraceptives. Double up on contraceptives if you really want to be sure (ie, birth control pills and condoms) because if you do get pregnant or get someone pregnant, that's a very very big deal.

I'm pro-choice. I don't like abortions. I don't want people to have abortions, but I do understand the need for them. I understand that instances of rape, incest, or other horrible scenarios might lead to an unwanted pregnancy. Tragic as that is, wishing even more tragedy upon the woman involved by forcing them to remain pregnant cannot stand. I think most Americans can get behind this case for abortions.

But I also support abortions in later terms for medical reasons, even past 20 weeks. There are conditions which can cause premature births, births that mean no survival for the child or miraculous survival with mental or physical issues from its inability to fully develop in the womb. The idea that government at any level should be allowed to step in an tell a couple they no longer have control over their body, their possible kid, their lives and their future is not something I support. That a government at any level should be allowed to say "sorry, your kid will be born early and die within 24 hours but we're going to force you to wait until that happens in 1-5 weeks instead of allowing you a more humane solution now" is downright idiotic. Everyone agrees that abortions are horrible. Being pro-choice doesn't mean you like the idea; it means you understand the horribleness and are placing value on the lives and humanity of the individuals involved, those who are already alive on this planet trying to make things work.

In this vein, I stand with Planned Parenthood during the mess that's been happening this fall of 2015. Without getting into the nature of the videos themselves (creative editing, what is/is not there, etc), understand that Planned Parenthood provides a host of services for men and women besides abortions. I know men and women who have used those facilities for STD testing and contraceptives. The service provided is real and it is good. If it is to be defunded because of perceptions over what is really going on with the organization and fetuses, fine. I'm open to an alternate organization that can provide the same services. Simply eliminating that from Americans in need does no good. Offer a replacement service and then talks of defunding can move forward.

Religious Freedom

Religion is a massive topic, something I will tackle in detail later in the campaign. I consider myself incredibly faithful and incredibly spiritual with a "unique" view on religion. But the topic is deep, full of substance and complication too cumbersome for this discussion. So, for now, understand that I support religious liberty and I support everyone's right to faith. I can even get behind certain people who do not wish to do a job duty because of religious belief (though if you can't do most of your job because of the belief, that's a problem). What I cannot support are those who wish to push their religious beliefs onto others by preventing co-workers or an entire business from being able to dutifully serve the wants and needs of Americans. If your religion doesn't allow you to give out contraceptives at a health center on a college campus, fine. I'll do that for you. But if your religion doesn't allow you and you also use your religion to not allow me, that is oppressive and a violation of my freedom.

Freedom of religion does not mean your personal preference for faith is superior to the workings of the nation. Freedom means "all-inclusive," it encompasses everything, allowing for all possibilities, not just options that fit a particular religious viewpoint, especially if those viewspoints would hinder the unalienable Rights of others.

Unalienable Rights >> Constitution >> humanity >> faith >> self

I will discuss religion more later. Promise.

Climate Change

When it comes to man versus Mother Nature, man will not win. Man needs to live in harmony with nature. Even if you don't believe in climate change, better to be safe than sorry. If not for you right now, for your kids and grandkids.

I support efforts to reduce our impact on the environment. I also support scientific research towards renewable and cleaner energy sources. Perpetual, clean, cheap (or free) energy that won't destroy our ability to live in harmony with Mother Nature is the end goal even if that goal will kinda destroy the world economy. But that's a different discussion :)

War on Drugs

I support the legalization of marijuana. I also support taxing it. Sorry.

More importantly, I agree with and support the notion that drug addiction is a disease that we can combat. Instead of criminalizing non-violent drug offenders, we should seek to give them the support they need to kick the habit. A kid that gets caught with weed in some states becomes a criminal, possibly ruining his life going forward. I don't approve of drug use just like I'm not a fan of underage drinking, but I know teens do stupid things sometimes and their lives shouldn't be ruined because of it. This is not theft, murder, or rape. This is someone who likely wanted to more thoroughly enjoy chips and salsa.

Drugs outside of marijuana like cocaine and heroin are not drugs that should ever be legalized. I fully support continuing the fight against the importation, creation, and sale of those drugs. And in the case of all drugs- even marijuana- distribution or intent to distribute should remain a criminal offense.

Marijuana sales should come from authorized sellers. Cannabis growth and hemp growth would also require permits for certain amounts- say over 16oz worth of leaves. Growers would then be required to sell only to authorized sellers or enjoy for personal use. Anything outside of that would be a criminal offense.

Guns

The number of mass shootings in America is tragic. Everyone knows this. Everyone hates when it happens. I honestly don't know how best to tackle the issue.

The first hurdle is the mindset. There are a decent number of Americans who believe in the Second Amendment's right to bear arms. They view this as their right to self-defense, which I understand and support. I've studied martial arts most of my life, I've been through stretches of rural America where the nearest police station is 30 minutes away by car, and I believe that not owning a gun in those regions is a bad idea from a self-preservation point of view. Even if it's to keep family/friends safe from aggressive wildlife, owning a gun is a smart idea. If a police station is 30 minutes away by car, chances are hospitals are not close by either.

At the same time, a sizable chunk of Americans believe gun ownership the equivalent of their right to overthrow the government should the government get too ornery. That I do not support. Barring a military coup, there is no amount of citizen firepower that could topple the US military. To even try would result in catastrophic casualties. With technology what it is and the military possessing the firepower it does (planes, tanks, nuclear bombs, and whatever else DARPA is hiding), it is absurd to think an all-out revolutionary war would be anything more than a bloody horror. Technology has made the playing field uneven in favor of government. Government would only lose if it gave up or the military ceased supporting it.

Tackling the mindset is tough. It's a cultural issue because most gun supporters grew up around firearms. They were taught how to hunt, proper gun care, and they feel they are doing everything right when it comes to gun ownership. I'd say they probably are, making it more difficult to convince these individuals that we need less guns in America if we are to stem the tide of gun violence.

This is the second hurdle: the sheer amount of guns. When you have hundreds of millions of guns out there, you make it that much more difficult to control the problem. A family with 20 guns finds one missing after a neighborhood party or a mentally ill teenager gets into their uncle's storage or any other number of scenarios occur in which someone who shouldn't have access to a gun is able to get one. How they then use said weapon would remain to be seen.

We cannot forcibly take these guns away from Americans. That is definitely a Constitutional violation right now. People legitimately can use a gun to protect themselves from both other people and wildlife. To deny Americans that protection would be too great an injustice.

The third hurdle is technology. We've entered the era where 3D printed guns have become a reality.2 3D printing provides many incredible benefits to society, but also allows for malicious creations like guns which are unregistered. If 3D printing takes off like it should in the next 20-50 years, making a gun would be as simple as downloading the plan off the internet, buying the raw printing materials (plastics, carbon fiber, whatever) for the printer, and waiting for it to complete. No background check, no mandatory waiting period, no questions of any kind. It's a very real danger that makes the current gun problem look like a mere inconvenience in my mind.

So how do we stop this? Japan curbed sword violence during the Edo period (1600's) by conducting "sword hunts" where government placed restrictions on sword ownership and forcibly discouraged the production of guns to the point where the art of musket making practically vanished. Looking at the market caps for the gun companies in America like RGR and SWHC, that's billions in revenue at stake for discouraging the manufacturing and sale of guns. I don't think a "gun hunt" would work, even if the majority of Americans supported it.

We could make assault weapons or weapons/magazines with a capacity over 15 rounds illegal, but then what happens to the hundreds of thousands of those weapons already in possession? Do the owners suddenly become felons? Do we allow a year grace period for turn-in? And would this even solve the problem of the guy carrying three 9mm pistols with 13 round magazines unloading upon the public? I don't think it would.

What about a buyback program on top of new ownership restrictions (background/safety checks, yearly training checkup, etc)? Would that help stem the supply problem? I think it would, but it would be incredibly expensive to the American taxpayer. You would need to offer great incentive for the gun to cover the purchase cost and the "culture" cost of giving it up. And if someone owns 100 guns, such a buyback program could provide them with a hefty wage augmentation... assuming they don't mind government "handouts."

Without destroying the Second Amendment, I cannot offer a solution that will prevent mass shootings or gun murders from occurring. I honestly don't think one exists. But I don't want to leave you without some ideas, so here are two "plans" that are not set in stone by any means for tackling the gun problem in America. The first is a solution for when the gun culture isn't an obstacle while the second one acknowledges the existing culture as a hindrance.

No Gun Culture Problem

  • Renew the assault weapon ban3
  • Ban magazines with a capacity over 13 rounds for any weapon
  • Universal background checks, funded by the federal government
  • No gun will be sold without a full check, regardless of the time it takes. A week of waiting is worth saving even one life.
  • Require a license for every gun owned
  • All gun ownership requires mandatory safety training at a certified safety center. This doesn't have to be super extensive, but will make sure everyone knows how to use their weapon effectively. People already familiar with guns will easily pass. Training will consist of handgun and/or rifle training depending on what kind of gun(s) you own.
  • Possession of a firearm in public (conceal carry or open carry) while under the influence of alcohol or any legal drug (like marijuana should it become legalized nationwide) will result in charges like DUI's
  • Conceal carry permits will now require training as well. If you're going to conceal carry, please do it properly and inconspicuously. This includes learning how to draw from various positions not covered under regular safety training.
  • Safety training and conceal carry training must be redone every five years
  • "Deputize" the NRA into handling gun safety and gun education requirements under these changes. If the NRA feels that strongly about gun safety and gun education, I have no problem letting them help. This also makes them responsible for ensuring proper training occurs.
  • The NRA maintains an extensive gun ownership database already.4 They will be responsible for keeping this up-to-date with safety licensing.
  • Children of gun owning families must go through mandatory safety training to be completed between ages 13 and 16. This training would cover proper use, gun etiquette, etc. Again, this might be an easy course for some kids that grow up around guns. This would be eligible for high school credit should a state allow it to be so (the training will be that extensive). Kids with mental illness will be exempt from this requirement.
  • Doctors seeing patients with qualifying mental health problems must report the patient to a joint NRA-federal government database for background check queries. When the patient has been deemed "cured" of the ailment, they will alert the database as such so the patient is removed. What constitutes a qualifying mental health problem needs further discussion. Depression would fit the bill, but eating disorders probably would not.
  • Yearly background checkups by the FBI against the NRA gun database to ensure compliance with safety and to ensure those who become criminals or those diagnosed with mental illness after purchase have their guns quarantined by the local ATF. Alternatively, confiscate and destroy firearms of those failing post-purchase background checkups.
  • Any gun lost or stolen must be reported as such within one week (7 days) from time of discovery. Failure to do so will result in felony charges.
  • Institute a buyback program on any functional gun capable of holding more than 6 bullets at a time. Gun must have been purchased in 2013 or earlier and be in working condition. Exchange rate would be 2.5 times the current market value of the gun in tax credits or 1.5 times the current market value of the gun in immediate cash/check form.

With Current Gun Culture Problem

  • Universal background checks, funded by the federal government
  • No gun will be sold without a full check, regardless of the time it takes. A week of waiting is worth saving even one life.
  • All gun ownership requires mandatory safety training at a certified safety center. This doesn't have to be super extensive, but will make sure everyone knows how to use their weapon effectively. People already familiar with guns will easily pass. Training will consist of handgun and/or rifle training depending on what kind of gun(s) you own.
  • Conceal carry permits will now require training as well. If you're going to conceal carry, please do it properly and inconspicuously. This includes learning how to draw from various positions not covered under regular safety training.
  • Safety training and conceal carry training must be redone every five years
  • "Deputize" the NRA into handling gun safety and gun education requirements under these changes. If the NRA feels that strongly about gun safety and gun education, I have no problem letting them help. This also makes them responsible for ensure proper training occurs.
  • Doctors seeing patients with qualifying mental health problems must report the patient to a joint NRA-federal government database for background check queries. When the patient has been deemed "cured" of the ailment, they will alert the database as such so the patient is removed. What constitutes a qualifying mental health problem needs further discussion. Depression would fit the bill, but eating disorders probably would not.
  • The NRA maintains an extensive gun ownership database already.4 They will be responsible for keeping this up-to-date with safety licensing.
  • Children of gun owning families must go through mandatory safety training to be completed between ages 13 and 16. This training would cover proper use, gun etiquette, etc. Again, this might be an easy course for some kids that grow up around guns. Kids with mental illness will be exempt from this requirement.
  • Any gun lost or stolen must be reported as such within one week (7 days) from time of discovery. Failure to do so will result in felony charges.
  • Yearly background checkups by the FBI against the NRA gun database to ensure compliance with safety and to ensure those who become criminals or those diagnosed with mental illness after purchase have their guns quarantined by the local ATF. Alternatively, confiscate and destroy firearms of those failing post-purchase background checkups.

The difference between the two plans is... not that much. Both discuss gun safety training, both have licensing, universal background checks, and an active mental health database. Lost guns must be reported and yearly background checkups will be executed to ensure you're still a good, sound of mind citizen. Still, the gun culture keeps a lot of that change from occurring, change that might be more overhead and annoyance, but worth it if we could cut the number of mass shooting and gun violence by any meaningful amount. Plenty of analogies can be made for or against gun legislation. At the end of the day, each of us as Americans need to decide how much is too much. 10 deaths? 100? 1,000? 10,000? How many deaths by gun violence will it take before change occurs? And how much douchebaggery are you willing to engage in, actions and/or words that encourage people online and offline to commit horrific acts of violence? Violence doesn't happen in a vacuum, after all. Tackling gun violence requires tackling cultural aspects in how we treat each other as human beings together with tackling potentials gun offer would be criminals. Treating everyone with kindness and respect that they deserve under the guise of unalienable Rights is probably the most important part to gun violence prevention that we can implement- without any government involvement.

I've had enough, but I'm one man. Are you willing to accept a little more inconvenience to your life if it means possibly saving the lives of others?

 

(1) See Gay Couples Can Marry Now, But They Can Still Be Fired for Being Gay.

(2) See The first entirely 3D-printed handgun is here.

(3) See Federal Assault Weapons Ban.

(4) See Federal Assault Weapons Ban.

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