Southern Illinois University School of Law–Legal Globalization & Comparative Law 2014

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Amsterdam and Legalizing Morality

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Amsterdam is sometimes synonymous with the wanton to Americans.  This may be because the United States is known for its propensity to regulate the morality of its citizens.  Social issues in the United States are often more on the forefront of politics than economics and even foreign affairs.

These issues have left our nation deeply divided. Will marijuana be legalized? Will we continue to allow abortions? Are we headed for the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah? I, a libertarian, was pleased to see that Amsterdam has allowed its citizens to regulate their own morality rather than impose morality on its people, and yet, the city has not turned into a pillar of salt.

Amsterdam is a beautiful, clean, relatively safe city. It boasted some of the best museums in the world, live music, culture and shopping.  The people are friendly and tolerant of American tourists. Shops line the streets. A person can purchase clothing, food, treats, knickknacks, marijuana, and sex.  The last two may seem shocking for an American who has been raised in a nation where neither of those items can be purchased legally. Yet, after being in the city more than a few hours, it becomes clear that these two items do little to make up the culture of the city of Amsterdam.

The city is not inundated by crime, drunkenness, or any other of the ills that are common reasons why Americans urge the government to regulate the morality of its citizens.  Perhaps Americans can look to Holland as we move toward decriminalizing marijuana, as we have in Colorado, and to a limited extent, southern California and Seattle.



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