The Distinctions of the Young

The headline is about their increasing liberalism, and that's true so far as socialized medicine is concerned, alas. But what strikes me most about the latest poll of the next generation is the distinctions they make. Instead of seeing "drugs" as an amorphous category, they distinguish between largely harmless marijuana and an addictive upper like cocaine. Instead of conflating all the moral issues, they have no problem with gay dignity and equality, but retain many of the moral conflicts of their parents with respect to the far more troubling issue of abortion. This doesn't strike me less as a sign of their liberalism than of their intelligence and experience. You simply cannot persuade most sane people who have smoked pot, or know people who do, that it is even a minor threat to social order or cvilization. And you cannot tell people who know and have grown up around gay people that we are the threat to the family that the Christianists claim. All of which should make us more optimistic about the future, because it suggests that, in the long run, reason and experience actually do work to make the world a marginally less stupid and cruel place. In the case of the lives of gay people and their families, it already has.