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How Much Longer?

October 15, 2013

Framing an issue as “how much longer until ___ happens?” is a powerful way to adjust the thinking of the debate. By making the end goal inexorable, people instead focus on the hows and think “why hasn’t it happened yet?”. I think the gay rights movement harnessed this technique to excellent results. Most people accepted it as inevitable that eventually, everyone will have equal rights, the only question is when. No one wants their grandchildren to be ashamed of them; no one wants to look like a relic of a more barbaric age. That produces a powerful herding tendency. When everyone is against civil rights, you are just a product of your age. When people are split, you don’t want to be behind the curve. When the equilibrium changes, it changes fast.

How much longer will the following things exist?
Columbus Day – How long will we celebrate the day of someone who was a slaver, an imperialist, and a generally awful person? Especially when he wasn’t even the first to discover America?

Football – How long will parents send their children into the maw of almost certain brain damage? What exactly is the payoff? One in 1,000 manage to play college ball, where they spend the prime of their live working out instead of getting an education and wind up qualified for little more than physical labor which pays less and less with every passing year? Of those, one in a hundred make it to the pros, where the real payoff is. Sure you get a lot of money, but you are virtually guaranteed to be crippled for the rest of your life. Sure, you are rich, but you live in pain with a shattered mind for the rest of your life? What kind of payoff is that for a one in a 100,000 chance?

Marijuana – How long will America send a large percentage of our nation’s youth for taking a drug which most of their parents tried, and got away with, is not addictive and is not dangerous? Sure, it makes you stupid if you do a lot of it, but alcohol is terrible when abused as well. Medical marijuana seems even more of a fait accompli.

Even things which may be worth fighting for preserving sometimes seem to be lost causes: gun rights, privacy, private health care.
Maybe they will still exist in 100 years, but one side of the argument definitly seems to the inevitability on their side.

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