Well we survived another election cycle, minds numbed with political ads and mailboxes stretched to breaking with leaflets that sling mud and “facts” of questionable validity. But the republic endures.
The results of the national elections are heartwarming to me, and a reminder that the times they are a-changin’ — no matter how much the Mormons and Catholics refuse to acknowledge reality.
In four states gay marriage made progress; three of them legitimized it, and one refused to ban it. Harvey Milk was right 30-plus years ago that you gotta give the people hope. This gave us hope that reason will prevail over frothy emotional appeals to a biblical morality that even its proponents do not live up to.
As I sat at my desk waiting for some talking head to announce who our next president would be, I was regularly checking the results to see if California would raise taxes, commute the death penalty to life sentences for the approximately 732 people on death row and make our state more of a police state.
Sadly, we made decisions as an electorate that I believe are disastrous for our future, and will almost assuredly come back to haunt us.
We raised taxes. That’s not a big deal in my book really. It’s just money. I have to pay more so I have to charge more — basic economics will dictate that I shall raise my rates, the state will get more money and life will continue. I’m not happy about it because it means that everyone else will be raising their rates and across the board life shall become more expensive and the cycle of inflation will continue.
What is more concerning to me as a citizen is the fact that we have enough people who are “tough on crime” — 81 percent of those who voted — that we can get a law passed like Proposition 35, the human trafficking law.
This law is not currently being enforced thanks to a stay placed on it by a San Francisco judge in response to a complaint filed by the ACLU that it is overly broad, vague and infringes on constitutionally-protected free speech.
I hope the ACLU prevails. This is a poorly written law and requires people to register as “sex offenders” and restricts their rights to free speech well beyond anything having to do with their alleged “crimes.” I know this is a sensitive topic, just like the death penalty is, but we need to have rational discourse that delves into the subject matter fearlessly, not jingoistic political grandstanding that results in sweeper nets of laws that destroy lives needlessly.
A few months back, well before the election, I gave a speech at the Westside Toastmasters, which meets on Wednesday at the Santa Monica Place mall in the community room. It was called, “Killing The Death Penalty.” In it I delineate three main arguments on why the death penalty is a bad idea. We can’t afford it, it doesn’t achieve its stated goal and it’s poorly implemented. You can see my speech at Youtube.com under the “Mensfamilylaw” channel.
That speech has changed people’s minds on the topic of the death penalty, and their votes. I’m proud of that speech, but I’m prouder of the people who have watched it with an open mind and were willing to admit new information, which resulted in a changed viewpoint.
The ability to review old thinking when new information is available is the hallmark of an intelligent person. Based on this past election, we’re not as stupid as the TV pundits would have us believe. We’ve seen revision of our thinking with the states that are now allowing gay people to marry. We’ve seen it with the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, and we’ve seen it in the modification of the three strikes law. I wish we’d seen it with the death penalty — and when you see my video you’ll see why I think that.
The good news is there is another election cycle right around the corner. That’s also the bad news.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father’s and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra