What’s moral?

Had a great conversation with my 15-year old son yesterday about changing standards of morality.  Seems like when I was his age, lots of people were still quite negative on the idea of pre-marital sex.  Today, not so much.  And now that I follow Pew on Facebook, I came across this link to their 2014 global morality survey.  Here’s the results from America:

Screenshot - 4_24_2015 , 5_10_53 PM

As you can see, only 30% find premarital sex unacceptable.  And, of course, you can look at similar results across a host of countries– cool!  (E.g., in France that figure is only 6%)    Of course, I wanted to know how this has changed over time and I realized– hey!  on-line GSS analysis!  And…


Alas, only back to 1991, but you can see some clear movement, e.g., not at all wrong from 40% to 50%.  Cool stuff.  Definitely going to play around some more with this Pew data.

Oh, and after being woeful for years, the GSS on-line codebook is now awesome!  This will help me so, so much in the future.

Photo of the day

From a very cool Wired gallery of repeating patterns in animals.

Black Cobra Pakistan.  Christopher Marley

Just decriminalize all of it!

I’ve been thinking a lot about illegal drugs lately.  I just finished the semester of Criminal Justice Policy and there’s just so much wrongness from our misguided war on drugs.  Part of me wants to say just stop this crazy war, legalize all of it, let people who want to get high, get high, and help people who develop dependencies using a medical model of treatment and rehabilitation.

But then again, some of these drugs are really quite dangerous.  And its easy to invent new, dangerous drugs.   And I certainly generally believe in our system of regulating prescription drugs.  Not anybody should just be able to walk into a pharmacy and buy Oxycontin, Adderall, and Lipitor.

But I guess the question is what you do with people who use drugs they shouldn’t and what you do with people who sell drugs they shouldn’t.  I think I’m increasingly of the mind that if you are only “crime” is using a drug that you are not supposed to, we certainly don’t need to put you in jail for it, or even consider it a crime.  The problem comes with sellers.  A lot of small-time dealers are actually just addicts doing some selling to support their habit.  I don’t think it is really useful to have them in prison either.  As for the big time sellers, if we still don’t want people addicted to cocaine, meth, etc., at some level it has to be criminal to sell the stuff.  But at what level?  And how much do we punish for simply an economic transaction (as opposed to violence, coercion, etc.).  I don’t know.  But at this point, I feel like our society would actually be a lot better off if we stopped using our criminal justice resources to punish people for their desire to get high.

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