Saturday, December 15, 2012

Why I Signed the Death Star Petition

The government has been trying to narrow the gaping chasm between the People and the White House for some time now. One of their more recent endeavors is a (perhaps well-meaning) petition site by the name of We the People, where citizens can sign in to sign requests created by other regular people.
The Death Star, petitioned for on We the People, to the White House
The Death Star[1]

Sound nice?

Well, then came some petitions that might be considered a bit... silly. From requesting the disclosure of contact with extraterrestrials (if they hadn't before, why would they do so now?) to the removal of Jerry Jones as the owner of the Dallas Cowboys (which was later removed), the new system was already pushing its limits.

Currently, there is even a petition out there demanding the funding and construction of a real life Death Star by the U.S. government. Many critics of the petition are claiming that this is exactly why we can't have nice things -- namely, online petition services like We the People. After all, the construction of a Death Star would take hundreds of quadrillions of dollars (you read that right) and more raw material than we could obtain in many lifetimes.

Naturally, I am eager to sign it.

Why, you may ask, would I be eager to support something so... well, stupid? It has to do with how the petitions that passed the required amount of signatures (which was 5,000 or 25,000 signatures, depending on when the petition was created) received boring, boilerplate responses from the White House, like the excerpt of an official reply below on the recognition of extraterrestrial life:

"The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race."

While you can't really expect a better answer to a question about something that probably does not exist, and which the government would not reveal anyways, these completely unhelpful and borderline lazy responses have been given for other, more real issues. One such issue was the petition to legalize and regulate marijuana, which received over 74,000 signatures in under a month.

Gil Kerlikowske[2]
Here is a small piece from the official, White House-endorsed reply to that petition, crafted by the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske:

"We... recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use."

Which, of course, is a load of bull. A great deal of the youth, social, criminal, and community challenges involving marijuana stem directly from its illegality, and little else. Marijuana does not cause people to become criminals -- the marijuana law does.

Since decriminalization of the drug here in California (where just small amounts of marijuana possession have been reduced to infractions, instead of misdemeanors), the state saw the lowest level of juvenile crime rate since 1954. There was a 16-percent drop in the number of arrests for violent crimes, and a 26-percent drop in the number of homicides. Drug arrests plummeted by almost 50-percent.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, as Director of the aforementioned drug policy office, Kerlikowske is required to "take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that ... is listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act," according to the Reauthorization Act of 1998. Kerlikowske could not legally write support for this petition, even if he found it to be entirely correct and fair.

So, then what exactly is the point of We the People, anyways? All of our legitimate petitions to the White House, asking that the current administration at least discuss the subject, have been met with the standard responses that we have been receiving for years now. While We the People was a welcome gesture from the government, who cares if it doesn't actually do anything? It's a joke.

And that's why I signed the Death Star petition.

[1] [Source]
[2] [Source]


Go ahead, blow our minds.