Monday, June 25, 2007

No longer 'anything goes' in Holland

The Washington Post reports that the Netherlands is "rethinking its anything-goes policies".
In cities across the Netherlands, mayors and town councils are closing down shops where marijuana is sold, rolled and smoked. Municipalities are shuttering the brothels where prostitutes have been allowed to ply their trade legally. Parliament is considering a ban on the sale of hallucinogenic "magic mushrooms." Orthodox Christian members of parliament have introduced a bill that would allow civil officials with moral objections to refuse to perform gay marriages. And Dutch authorities are trying to curtail the activities of an abortion rights group that assists women in neighboring countries where abortions are illegal.

The effort to rein in the Netherlands' famed social liberties is not limited to the small, newly empowered Christian Union party, which holds two of the 16 ministries in the coalition government formed this year. Increasingly, politicians from the more center-left Labor Party are among the most outspoken proponents of closing some brothels and marijuana shops -- known here as "coffee shops."
Historian James Kennedy describes the change as "a national 'weariness with moral squalor — the Dutch have grown tired of it and unwilling to put up with it.'"