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Moral Versus Legal

One of the tactics I’ve noticed when others disagree with me runs in these kinds of varieties:

  • Don’t you want poor people to eat?
  • You just want to get stoned.

I hear these and variations on them almost every time I disagree with someone on some social or political issue.  They seem to crop up mostly when I express an opinion that something that is illegal should be legal, or that something that is compelled by law is none of the government’s business.  In short, I draw a line between that which is legal and between that which is moral.

I believe that we have a moral responsibility to provide for those who are less fortunate.  My family regularly gives to charity, and we encourage others to do so as well.  Our government has decided, over the space of the last 50 years, to make that moral responsibility into a legal compulsion, and I have a problem with that.  I also believe that government involvement invites abuse.  Rather than a private charity having to watch every penny and make sure that only the deserving get fed and housed on the charity of others, the government hands out free money for junk food and apartments in urban war zones.  Rather than a charity hospital staffed by volunteers giving out preventive care and lifesaving procedures to the less fortunate, the government just keeps expanding the Medicaid roles.

Were poor people falling down dead in the streets prior to these government programs, or were they provided for by private charities?  Is it the nanny state’s place force us to be charitable, to the point of imprisoning us if we refuse to cooperate?

On the other hand, I object to the government using the force of law to prevent me from doing something others believe is immoral.  I truly believe that is immoral to be a drunkard, either by alcohol or some other intoxicant, but the efforts of the government to keep people sober are repugnant to me.  Yes, there is a lot of damage to our society from alcohol and drugs, and legalizing or relaxing restrictions on their use wouldn’t make that all magically disappear, but neither will Washington telling adults what they may or may not do with their bodies.   Another place this comes out is  when we go down the thorny path of discussing non-traditional marriage.  Some find same-sex marriage or multiple-partner marriage immoral, and try to use the law to stop it.  Like I’ve said before, I believe that what consenting adults do in their private lives is none of my business, so why is it the government’s business?

Does anyone truly believe that allowing adults to be, well, adults would cause the dissolution of the Republic?  Are we so irresponsible that we will cause social chaos if the daddy state were to leave us alone to live our own lives?

Basically, unless you’re talking about specific places where ‘moral’ intersects with ‘legal’, such as  murder and theft, I don’t want the law to be used as a cudgel to make me act in a moral fashion.  I have my own moral code to force myself to be charitable and kind, as well as to prevent me from being a jerk and a drunkard.  My gut tells me that a lot of the conflicts and distrust we have in our society right now are rooted in the fact that those who hold power and those who want power don’t trust us to make the moral choice, so they take the choice away from us.  Both sides of the political and social argument need to leave us alone.

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  1. jeremy

     /  November 4, 2013

    Yes to all of the above. Well said sir!

  2. Hey DB;

    I have stated in the past that we need to let people be “adults” if they want to ruin their life with booze or drugs….Fine have at it. But once your body is broken due to your stupidity, you can’t draw on the power of the state to pay to try to “fix” you. Let it be known from high school and in the future that everybody knows the ramifications of their actions. I know…it will never happen.

  3. You’re right, as usual people WILL throw those ‘objections’ back at you rather than actually examine what you said vs. their perceptions… Sigh…

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