Democracy is the evocation of free speech and independent thinking, built upon a foundation of inherent family values. In accordance with this, large and growing families are a feature of liberal civilizations, as adults have the choice to procreate and raise children without any restrictions or limits to their number. This is considered by many to be a basic right of adults within a civilized and democratic society, and one that should be trusted to an individuals discretion and decision making capabilities.

This way of thinking is not prevalent globally, and other cultures and government regimes have taken steps to restrict the rights of procreation in their respective countries. China is the most notable example, who reacted to their vast population increases with the implementation of a one child family policy. This applies legislation and guidelines as to how many children a family can have, and though conceived in the wider interests of society, it is often devalued in western culture as being both draconian and unnecessary.

Are Governments doing Enough to Curb Rising Populations?

However, as the US population soars towards 310 million at an average increase of 250,000 people per year, there are is an increasing concern with the pressure that is being placed on natural and financial resources. This population rise is part of a global trend, and its escalation is often linked to the prominence of poverty in both poor and wealthy nations. With this in mind, it would seem that a more balanced equilibrium needs to be found between maintaining human rights and the welfare of society at large.

There are several core principles at the heart of a civilized and democratic society. Personal liberties such as the freedom of speech and choice of lifestyle are accepted as basic civil rights in the US and many western cultures, and allow citizens to develop and maintain individual values and thinking. Religious tolerance is another primary factor within any civilized society, as this allows different cultures and belief systems to co-exist within a single community without dispute or prejudice.

It is an idealism not without its issues. In today’s world, there is much trepidation and hostility between alternate religions, due in part to the existence of extreme religious bodies who have adapted a harsh and unforgiving interpretation to specific literature. This, in addition to the diverse nature of beliefs and values prevalent in different religions, make multiculturalism an awkward and potentially divisive concept. One of the significant dangers is that a culture or belief system may lose its unique identity and values when immersed in a mixed and varied community.

Resisting Religious and Cultural Intolerance

Religious tolerance is something which separates civilized people and societies from bigoted and more dictatorial examples. While is inherent to US values, it is not prevalent in all faith or religious representation that exists in the contemporary world. Particular examples of extreme faiths have applied a rigid understanding to relevant text, creating an ethos that is not only intolerant to alternative faiths and beliefs but actually hostile towards them. These groups propagate the notion that belief systems that vary from their own are both immoral and opposed to clean living.

The concepts of crime and punishment have been well versed and discussed for generations. In civilized society, the purpose of implementing penal sentences for criminal acts is to rehabilitate the offender, educating them through various programs that aim to modify their behavioral trends. This is opposed to the primal and less evolved attitudes towards prison, which focus solely on punishing the perpetrators of crime and attempting to deter them through the severity of consequence.

It is widely accepted that the former is the most conducive towards reducing crime over a period of time, as well as creating the best environment to change attitudes rather than hardening a prevalent criminal ethos. However, this methodology of attempting to correct behavior rather than punish it is vulnerable to several criticisms, most notably that it is open to abuse from career criminals who observe captivity as an occupational hazard and one that can be endured for financial reward.

Serving Time and Rehabilitation

Opposed to this, there is also criticism from those who deem aspects of criminal law to restrictive in a democratic environment. This observation applies to legislation that continues to restricts the movements and activity of individuals after they have been released from their sentence, and therefore regulates behaviour for far longer than their original punishment. While this may be necessary for specific and compulsive natures of crime, it is not entirely appropriate or ethical for others.

Just a single week after the tragic shooting of Gabrielle Giffords at an Arizona shopping mall, thousands of US citizens attended an annual gun show in Tuscon yesterday. Despite the incredible levels of feeling and emotion that the incident has prompted nationwide, the two day event has attracted a staggering 7000 attendees, which is a noticeable increase on the number of citizens who visited in the previous year. Of course, both the timing and nature of the event have raised several questions about gun control and the use of firearms within the USA.

The debate is a longstanding and emotionally fraught one, as the subject of firearms and their usage becomes ever more pertinent in a violent and desensitized culture. Critics have questioned the validity of gun control and regulatory legislation affiliated to firearm ownership, and have been quick to cite the Arizona shootings as supportive evidence. Of course, gun enthusiasts take a different view, and are quick to assert that firearm related violence is a wider issue of contemporary society and alternative negative influences.

Gun Control in Contemporary Society

If assessing the arguments objectively, it is hard to disagree with gun enthusiasts within the US. Gun control and supportive legislation has been assessed and evaluated regularly over the last decade, as federal government has attempted to regulate their levels of control over the types of guns viable and the status of registered owners. Given that law enforcement bodies were also at the Tuscan event monitoring specific sales and purchasers, it appears that those responsible for the safety of US citizens are continuing to do all they can with regards to firearms.

As the US government continues to restrict the rights of smokers, there is increasing debate as to the ethics of such a policy and its place within a civilized and democratic society. This debate has intensified recently with legislation being implemented to ban smoking from the side walks and well populated streets of Great Neck Village in Long Island, as the local board of this affluent suburb upheld complaints and suggestions from its residents. This is considered to be the first instance of authority restricting smoking in public and completely open spaces.

This follows on from the decreasing tolerance shown by governments towards smoking, and specific bans on smoking in various enclosed public areas and establishments. This ethos, coupled with the escalating costs of buying cigarettes and tobacco, has been credited with reducing the number of smokers by over 6 percent of the population since 1990. While this has been accepted as beneficial to society and its members, there is some debate that the continual tightening of smoking regulations is actually an affront to personal choice and liberty.

A Personal Choice? The Arguments of Smokers

The argument of smokers in the US is based primarily on the fact that they live in a democratic society with the supposed freedom of choice. This applies to any act or decision that can be taken within the existing laws, and as smoking remains a legal practice then theoretically there should no serious restrictions on its practice. There is an unclear and conflicting message sent concerning smoking by government legislation’s, with smokers being subjected to numerous restrictions and price increases on the basis that smoking is detrimental to health, while cigarettes are still sold on every street in the USA without any serious stipulations.

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