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California Propositions

My head hurts from trying to figure out how to vote on all the California propositions on the ballot. At the risk of repeating myself, I find the CA initiative system oppressive rather than democratic. The fact that our lawmakers can’t make decisions on their own, when that’s what we elect them to do, means they’re not doing their jobs. I don’t think there should be no initiatives ever, but come on–this year we’ve got 11 of them! And that’s in addition to county and city initiatives. My faith in the voting public is not so strong that I believe everyone is carefully weighing the pros and cons, and voting for what they really and truly believe in and desire. The way these things are written, what with all the convolutions and the fact that most people don’t have time, interest, or, frankly, brain power to address these complex issues….well, there’s not much chance this is coming out so stunningly democratic anyway.

Be that as it may, if they’re going to make me vote on all this stuff, then it is incumbent upon me to do so conscientiously.  So far I’ve waded through 7 of the 13 props. Out of those 7, I’ve decided on 6. Some are easy: I’ve been against the death penalty all my life, so Prop. 34 is a no-brainer. Others are not so simple. Right now I’m stumped on Proposition 35, which increases penalties for human trafficking. Naturally I’m stumped on it: most of the sex crime laws in our country are so half-assed they end up making things worse rather than better. They’re created by people who are, by and large, coming from a position of anti-sex attitudes or, at the very least, sexual ignorance. The sex offenders’ laws have primarily worked to create a whole class of homeless men with ruined lives who are more likely to re-offend.   These laws have made criminals out of curious teenagers whose only crime was to make love, consensually, to a younger girlfriend. (A great novel on this subject, insightful and illuminating, is Russell Banks’ The Lost Memory of Skin.)

I’m not stumped on Prop 35 only because I’m sex-positive, but also because I’m extremely horrified by the huge surge in human trafficking–especially of children–for purposes of sex, slave labor, or any other reason. I’ve seen the documentaries and read the articles, and it’s just appalling.  I want the law to catch the bloodless sadists who operate these nefarious businesses and punish them severely. Why oh why can’t the lawmakers get this right?

The Next Day:

Just discovered a handy article in Mother Jones  with guidance on the above. Best of all, the writer, Kevin Drum, opens with a rant and reasons he opposes the initiative process–a man after my own heart.

Also, for some more analysis of Proposition 35, Sex Trafficking, see the SF Bay Guardian.


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