Liberal? Dutch Say They're Just Sensible 

Liberal? Dutch Say They're Just Sensible 
Posted by FoM on May 29, 2001 at 17:38:42 PT
By Arthur Max, The Associated Press
Source: Tampa Tribune
What is it about the Dutch? They sell marijuana joints and hashish-laced ``space cakes'' in specialty shops. Prostitutes stand brazenly in skimpy lingerie under soft neon lights on display for window-shopping customers and tourists. And the country lets doctors kill patients wanting to die. Sex shops and dope-selling ``coffee houses'' are overtaking wooden shoes and windmills as popular images of Holland. 
In the last year, the parliament enacted laws legalizing brothels and regulating the sex trade; sanctioning gay marriages and investing those unions with full rights; and approving euthanasia conducted under strict guidelines. Now there is talk of prescribing suicide pills for the elderly. Some call the Dutch pioneers of progressiveness. Others wonder if they're not degenerates. The Vatican called the gay marriage law ``a grave attack on the family.'' Its newspaper denounced the euthanasia bill. Yet, while these laws attracted worldwide attention, their evolution was so gradual here that the Dutch hardly noticed when they were adopted and went into force. All were debated for decades, then carefully crafted into bills reflecting a broad consensus. Why is a country of 16 million people, one of the smallest in Europe, at the forefront of liberal legislation? Why did it happen in a country that embraced Calvinism, the dourest, most regimented stream of Christianity? The Dutch say they are as conservative as other Europeans, only more sensible about dealing with alternative lifestyles, using a pragmatism drawn from their history. Decriminalization gives authorities more control over activities, they say. After the country overturned a widely ignored 1912 brothel ban last year, these houses became taxpaying establishments required to give employee benefits. The law also weeds out illegal immigrants, underage girls and forced prostitution. Euthanasia here accounts for about 3,500 deaths a year, a rate the Dutch say is secretly matched in other countries. But the law passed in April regulates conditions under which doctors may help patients end their lives. Historian Han van der Horst says the Dutch follow the rule of ``the sovereignty of one's own domain'' - or live and let live. The Netherlands is a patchwork of minorities and subcultures, says van der Horst, author of ``The Low Sky,'' which explains the Dutch ways. ``In such a system, tolerance and respect for private lifestyles is essential, because the alternative is civil war,'' he said. This system, what the Dutch call ``the expediency principle,'' is a hallmark of Dutch justice. The sale of hashish and marijuana is illegal, but 850 coffee houses sell marijuana joints or 5-gram packets of hash without fear of prosecution as long as they don't sell liquor. Despite the availability of drugs, a 1997 study by the Center for Drugs Research at Amsterdam University said U.S. marijuana use is twice as high as in the Netherlands - 9 percent of Americans older than 12 tried it at least once that year, compared with 4.5 percent here. Amsterdam, Netherlands - Legalized prostitution, drug use and euthanasia are symbols of a live-and-let-live philosophy.Source: Tampa Tribune (FL) Author: Arthur Max, The Associated PressPublished: May 27, 2001Copyright: 2001 The Tribune Co. Website: Contact: tribletters Related Articles:Dutch Border Town Lures Germans With Marijuana Look To Drive-Thru Drug Shops Amsterdam's Smokin' Coffee Shops
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Comment #6 posted by jacksplace58 on June 01, 2001 at 03:56:09 PT
Sick and tired?
I too was part of the green machine back in the 70's(army)and this is the first time I've heard a marine wanting to cut and run from a fight. The christians are beaten with their own book,.page one, that leaves the politicians and the police, you vote the pols out the other follows. We may get bloody and we may get beat up,..but we can't let them beat us down!Stand, fight, and be counted or slink away in the shadows,..sooner or later we will prevail.
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Comment #5 posted by jeffrey snyder on May 30, 2001 at 15:26:44 PT:
i am sick and tired of the usa
i really did love this country many years ago. back when i thought things were moving in the right direction. then we started going backwards. war on drugs, they want to take the guns away, they want to stop free speech and soon it may be against the law(federal law)to burn a flag in protest. i can stand it no longer. do not hand me a bunch of crap, i was in the usmc in the early 70s and was proud. now i am not. i want to move to the place that i can wake up and say god bless the netherlands and mean it and be happy living in a free land. i am sick of this place and the insane people that run it. when my money is right i am going to my new home, the netherlands. i say goddamn this pigheaded country.
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Comment #4 posted by michael on May 30, 2001 at 07:35:07 PT:
blind faith?
  I couldn't agree more Steve 1. Wait a minute, I more than agree with you. The concept of rightious, religious factions dictating good and evil has no power over me. What I do believe is that all religions simply mean " be a good person". Funny, that's what mother earth has always told us. Thankyou mother for your herbs and spices.
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Comment #3 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on May 30, 2001 at 06:34:21 PT:
Holland: Island of Sanity
I am really looking forward to returning to the Netherlands after some 27 years. This is a country that shared certain colonial excessses with others in Europe. However, they were able to see the folly of their ways, and have integrated Indonesian and Surinamese minorities to a greater extent than their neighbors, and arguably far better than Amerika has done with its former slaves.I have heard from some of you with questions you would like to ask the Dutch Minister of Medicinal Cannabis. Are there others? If so, please E-mail me at erusso
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Comment #2 posted by kaptinemo on May 30, 2001 at 05:18:34 PT:
A truth that can't be told too often
"The Netherlands is a patchwork of minorities and subcultures, says van der Horst, author of ``The Low Sky,'' which explains the Dutch ways. ``In such a system, tolerance and respect for private lifestyles is essential, because the alternative is civil war,'' he said.There it is. In black and white. But the common mistake is in believing that civil wars are huge affairs with masses of opposing armies gaudily decked out in differing uniforms firing at each other across battlefields.In the de facto civil war called the War on Drugs, only one side wears uniforms; the rest do not. But most of the uniformed side's opposition can be readily identified...through the amount of melannin content of their skin. Their POWs make up the vast majority of those residing in what amount to 'concentration camps' Because in most civil wars, opposing sides often as not don't see each other as soldiers of legitimate governments but as criminals, the Geneva Convention and the Laws of War are generally flouted; the way such POWs captured by the uniformed side are treated provide stark examples of this. Homosexual rape, beatings received by both guards and fellow prisoners, and even murder are common events in such camps.Civil war - just like 'friendly fire' - isn't. The DrugWar is living proof of that. 
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Comment #1 posted by steve1 on May 29, 2001 at 18:46:53 PT
the dutch are logical
It seems logic and reason always win out. And another thing who cares what the Vatican says about things, who the hell are they? God? I think not. I choose science and fact before I listen to what the pope has to say. God cannot be represented by any mere human. Forget politics, the Dutch know what works, I just hope they fully legalize cannabis and allow the legal growing of the cannabis plant.
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