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11 Most Controversial Issues Dividing the Country
written by Sam Greenspan

A few days ago, Gallup posted the results of a national survey to determine the most controversial issues in the U.S. I found it fascinating, and decided to pull out the top 11 for a list.

The rankings on this list are based on the split between the percentage of people who said something is morally acceptable versus the people who said something is morally wrong. So the closer those two percentages, the more controversial the issue.

So let's jump right into the most controversial and divisive issue in the country. I'm sure it's exactly what you think...

  1. Hoo-ah!
    Doctor-assisted suicide (45% morally acceptable, 48% morally wrong, 3% difference) - No, really. In 2011, this still divides us more than anything. While everyone's been out beating the drum on gay marriage and abortion and King George's taxes on tea, the rest of the country secretly time traveled back to 1991.

    While I completely understand euthanasia being a divisive issue -- the old "South Park" that addressed it featured basically every character ultimately saying they wouldn't touch it with a 30-foot pole -- talking about it still gives me that fuzzy retro feeling. Like, when I hear people debate doctor-assisted suicide I want to listen to Jesus Jones' "Right Here, Right Now" and drink a Crystal Pepsi.

    [Note: This survey was conducted a few weeks before Jack Kevorkian died, so doctor-assisted suicide wasn't number one because he was in the news again. Also, I wrote this list on Thursday, June 2nd, not realizing I would be publishing it on the same day he died. It's all just a coincidence. An odd, odd coincidence.]

  2. Abortion (39% acceptable, 51% wrong, 12% difference) - That's better. This IS something that people are eternally furious about. Especially now that Planned Parenthood is using taxpayer money to open that Abortionplex.

  3. Having a child outside of marriage (54% acceptable, 41% wrong, 13% difference) - This is the first one that came out on the "more acceptable than wrong" side of the ledger. That result was primarily driven by the younger people in the survey -- 62 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds said this is morally acceptable versus 46 percent of the over 55 crowd. You know, people who used the word "bastard" back when it had its original meaning and wasn't the name of a Wu Tang Clansman or being gratuitously misspelled by Quentin Tarantino.


  4. Much more fur than in Basic Instinct.
    Buying or wearing fur (56% acceptable, 39% wrong, 17% difference) - Does fur include a gorilla vest, Irish setter sweater, cat hat, vampire bat evening wear, albino African endangered rhino white slippers, grizzly bear underwear, turtle neck turtlenecks, poodle berets, double-breasted (and single-breasted) red robin suits, gopher loafers or a greyhound tuxedo? Or any clothes made of Rory Calhoun? If so, I'm with the "morally wrong" contingent.

  5. Homosexuality (56% acceptable, 39% wrong, 17% difference) - With fur and homosexuality both getting a 17 percent split, there have to be a decent number of people who said both of those are morally wrong. And they sure must hate Uggs for men.

  6. Medical testing on animals (55% acceptable, 38% wrong, 17% difference) - Complete generational thing here, but in the opposite direction of having kids out of wedlock. Younger people are wildly opposed to testing on animals, older people are not. If you're at the age where you require more medical attention, I'm thinking you want to make sure it gets tested out first. Once you've had a colonoscopy it seems to probe the idealism right out of you.

  7. Sex between an unmarried man and woman (60% acceptable, 36% wrong, 24% difference) - I can't believe 36 percent of the country thinks this is morally wrong. According to the Liberal Media, everyone ages 11 and up is currently having sex RIGHT NOW. Except you, I guess, because you're on the Internet reading this. Unless you're reading this while you're having sex. Which I strongly encourage. In fact, employ a position where you can both look at the screen.


  8. When Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down it doesn't spawn a bunch of mediocre sequels! Oh wait.
    Cloning animals (32% acceptable, 62% wrong, 30% difference) - I'm personally torn on this one. My first instinct to the question would've been "Who gives a shit?" But if I had "Jurassic Park" on the brain, and the person polling me confirmed that this included cloning dinosaurs to make a theme park, AND the pollster also confirmed that Newman wouldn't be hired at that park so nothing could possiblie go wrong... I'd totally switch from indifference to a moral thumbs up.

  9. Using stem cells from human embryos for medical research (62% acceptable, 30% wrong, 32% difference) - At a 62 percent approval rate, the public sure has come a long way in its feeling toward stem cell research. Either that or they all really want to be able to clone a Shakey's Pizza so there can be two of them.

  10. Gambling (64% acceptable, 31% wrong, 33% difference) - I'm surprised that gambling was included in the survey. I don't really see it as an issue at all. In the last decade, basically every city that's not on a salt lake has legalized gambling -- ya know, once they realized that people were going to gamble no matter what and they might as well not let Vegas, Canada or the Native Americans get their hands on that money.

  11. Pornography (30% acceptable, 66% wrong, 36% difference) - Overall, Gallup surveyed people on 17 different topics. So there are six that didn't make the list on this site. Pornography beat out, in order: Death penalty (65% ok/28% wrong -> 37% difference); divorce (69%/23% -> 46%); suicide (15%/80% -> 65%); human cloning (12%/84% -> 72%); polygamy (11%/86% ->75%); and married men and women having affairs (7%/91% -> 84%).

    So congratulations, porn industry: You can hang a banner that reads "More controversial than the death penalty!" And I guess I can see that. After all, you can't get addicted to the death penalty. (Unless you're a Texas judge. Am I right? Anyone? Anyone?)

This list was originally published on Friday, June 3, 2011 at 11:00:00 AM under the category News & Politics.
It currently has View Comments.

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