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Thread: Should the government legislate morality?

  1. #71
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    Re: Should the government legislate morality?

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
    So, how does legislating morality help to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
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    Re: Should the government legislate morality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Krhazy View Post
    I fully realize this. My point is that there is a clear distinction between the type of morality that can be legislated and the types of "morality" (aka prejudice, ignorance, etc.) that cannot be.
    Prejudice and ignorance have been enforced by the law, and moral arguments were made both for and against...

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    Re: Should the government legislate morality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dezaad View Post
    The history? Because they found that they couldn't win elections often enough based on a small government platform alone, so they had to absorb a bunch of control freak social conservatives who had really no one representing their desires. It was an unholy alliance.
    Your post made me lol... but it would be different if there were two kinds of Republicans; small government and social conservatives. When I read these threads I think most Republicans believe in both small government and social conservatism

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    Re: Should the government legislate morality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Goshin View Post
    The only laws that are not an expression of morality in some sense, are those where Senator Bubbajay gets a special tax exemption for Developers Inc, in "thanks" for their campaign support... that's just plain old graft.
    Pretty much sums it up.

    In my opinion, there are only two reasons laws get made: Morality and money. The bigger the government is, It becomes less able to succesfuly pass the former, and more likely to pass the latter.
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    Re: Should the government legislate morality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Goshin View Post
    Exactly.

    Almost all laws are a legislation of morality, or at least a reflection of it. Morality is "what is right, what is wrong." Murder is illegal because we collectively believe it is wrong: this is a moral belief. Laws against having sex with a 13yo are laws because enough people believe it is wrong to do so... this is a societal expression of what we believe is immoral.

    The only laws that are not an expression of morality in some sense, are those where Senator Bubbajay gets a special tax exemption for Developers Inc, in "thanks" for their campaign support... that's just plain old graft.

    Adultery is widely considered immoral, but not as strongly as was the case 50 years ago. Then, many states had laws making adultery an actual crime. In the years since, society has become morally looser and collectively decided that that was too harsh... and most of those laws went away. You could call that a legalistic expression of our immorality, perhaps...

    The point is, there's no point in arguing whether we should "legislate morality". We do. All the time. The only real question is "WHOSE morality do we legislate, yours or mine?"

    In practice, it ends up being a little of both. What ends up being law, specifically what ends up being a crime, is often because a large majority of people find it morally reprehensible. Things that are considered morally reprehensible by a small minority are less likely to achieve legal standing.

    That's just an overview of a much more complex subject, and skips over a lot of details, but you get the drift.
    Whose morals do we govern on... yours or mine? Well, depending on the individual, the laws based on one person's morality can be extremely oppressive and violent to certain people under the law or most of the people under the law. And then when the law isn't based on your idea of morality, is it still based on morality at all?

    Thomas Aquinas wrote a lot on natural law... He discussed laws and governments that are immoral and oppressive, and said that immoral or unjust laws are a violation of natural law and shouldn't be honored or obeyed. Breaking immoral laws, is an act of morality...

    *since nobody has brought up the issue of immoral acting governments and regimes, I thought I would.

  6. #76
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    Re: Should the government legislate morality?

    Quote Originally Posted by SheWolf View Post
    Whose morals do we govern on... yours or mine? Well, depending on the individual, the laws based on one person's morality can be extremely oppressive and violent to certain people under the law or most of the people under the law. And then when the law isn't based on your idea of morality, is it still based on morality at all?

    Thomas Aquinas wrote a lot on natural law... He discussed laws and governments that are immoral and oppressive, and said that immoral or unjust laws are a violation of natural law and shouldn't be honored or obeyed. Breaking immoral laws, is an act of morality...

    *since nobody has brought up the issue of immoral acting governments and regimes, I thought I would.
    Of course. Virtually all law, all government, is force and coercion. The purpose of government is to make people do things they don't want to do, and stop doing things that they do want to do, when it is deemed to be in society's best intrests that this is so. (That is, if the government is GOOD government... BAD government does what is in the intrests of the ruling class, not what is in the intrests of "the people". )

    Law is based on force, and the threat of force. Even traffic tickets. Accumulate enough traffic tickets and a couple of beefy Deputies will show up at your door with a warrant for your arrest. If you feel disinclined to accompany them, they will use force to make you come along. If you resist successfully enough, they will kill you.

    All laws are oppressive to someone. Serial killers no doubt find laws against murder to be oppressive. Sometimes I find laws against murder oppressive myself, as they make it a lot harder to kill someone who needs killing. But, society defines when you can kill and when you cannot, and if you violate that and get caught you will suffer society's great displeasure. Such is life in a "nation of laws, not men."

    And it is an improvement over the days when "law" was whatever whim-of-the-moment struck the ruler's fancy.

    Most people don't believe in moral absolutes these days, apparently. I'm an oddball, I do, but I recognize that not everyone shares every aspect of my own moral code.

    What we end up with, for the most part, is laws that criminalize things that the majority believe are morally reprehensible. We also get some laws that benefit some small group's special intrests, and while I have problems with that I suppose it is inevitable.

    If you don't believe in absolutes, then I suppose you're left with "majority rules". If most people think it should be illegal, it probably will be. If you don't like it, you have to live with it anyway, or convince people to repeal that law, or immigrate to another country.

    Well, there's the Constitution. Some people think the Constitution guarantees the right to an abortion, even though it doesn't mention abortion, but that the explicitly stated right to keep and bear arms should not be respected nowadays. Oh well, looks like we still have some problems there...

    A popular theory these days is that the only things that should be illegal are those things that actually harm another person. Sounds good, right?

    Well, the problem comes when we try to define "harm".

    Take seatbelt laws. Certainly sounds like a case of government trying to make you "do what's good for you" like a nanny state, right? But I've heard people justify it by claiming "people who don't buckle up get hurt worse, and that costs all of us in insurance premiums and unpaid hospital bills".

    Well, we could just mandate that if you don't buckle up, if you get hurt it is your own problem and nobody else has to pay for your injuries or treatments, but that would be too simple. Then the counties and states wouldn't get all that revenue from enforcing seatbelt laws, and they wouldn't have a simple excuse to pull people over and ask them intrusive questions because they weren't buckled up, or have "seatbelt checkpoints" where they're really fishing for any excuse to bust you.

    This is where theory meets reality and the BS hits the asphalt.

    Or NC, where you can be jailed for putting anything but aluminum cans in an aluminum can recycling bin. (Jail? Seriously? Because I thought it was just a trash can and threw a McDonald's bag in there?)

    So anyway, I consider laws like that oppressive, but there they are. Not much I can do about it but write my Congresscritter.

    Then we have moralities that are imposed by fiat, by a decision by a judge or court, and not by the will of the majority. Roe v Wade was one example of this; Massachusetts SSM laws are another. Laws imposed by one or two or three or five or nine judges, imposed on tens of millions or hundreds of millions of people whether they want it or not.

    These are some of the details and complications I referred to in the earlier post, but didn't address there.

    So if you feel oppressed by some law that originated with someone else's morality, don't feel alone: I guarantee you EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the country feels oppressed or unhappy about some laws, including the person(s) who imposed their morality (in the form of law) on you.

    The only answer to this (other than anarchy) that would greatly lessen this sense of oppression would be local sovereignty: letting the states or maybe even the counties decide what moral code they will use to determine laws and regulations, then vote with your feet and pick the one that most closely fits your own beliefs. That, of course, is another subject with its own complications and details that I'm riding past at a gallop just now...
    Last edited by Goshin; 02-13-11 at 02:23 AM.

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    Re: Should the government legislate morality?

    Quote Originally Posted by SheWolf View Post
    Whose morals do we govern on... yours or mine? Well, depending on the individual, the laws based on one person's morality can be extremely oppressive and violent to certain people under the law or most of the people under the law. And then when the law isn't based on your idea of morality, is it still based on morality at all?

    Thomas Aquinas wrote a lot on natural law... He discussed laws and governments that are immoral and oppressive, and said that immoral or unjust laws are a violation of natural law and shouldn't be honored or obeyed. Breaking immoral laws, is an act of morality...

    *since nobody has brought up the issue of immoral acting governments and regimes, I thought I would.
    Just why do you ASSUME that it is CONSTITUTIONAL MANDATE that 75% of the populous must AGREE upon any et.al., incorporations of LAW that fundamentally changes the founding principles of this nation? Every Law that comes into existence is legislated by MAJORITY rule. There is not one fundamental basic human right that is guaranteed in this nation that did not come from a super majority ratification process (endorsed by THE PEOPLE, the only authority that regulates rights in this nation), Big Brother did not institute one right in this Nation....not one, unless they did so, UNCONSTITUTIONALLY from the bench. But now, some are claiming that the same Majority that granted all Civil and Minority rights of human civility are bigoted and racist? Really?

    This is a Constitutional Democratic Republic. All rights are regulated by the Majority Will...it can be no other way. Hell, even Mr. Obama realizes the truth to that statement....listen, be enlightened. The People write the laws by a reflection of the morality they already possess. Even the Constitution was drafted by using the philosophy of the Judeo/Christian faith, as the Black Stone theories were deeply referenced in establishing the judicial system of this nation. Do you think that its just happenstance that 80% of the population profess to being Christian?

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    Last edited by Walter; 02-13-11 at 05:08 AM.

  8. #78
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    Re: Should the government legislate morality?

    Quote Originally Posted by SheWolf View Post
    Your post made me lol... but it would be different if there were two kinds of Republicans; small government and social conservatives. When I read these threads I think most Republicans believe in both small government and social conservatism
    Small, in the sense of general non-intrusiveness, would be libertarianism. To the degree that Republicans diverge from libertarian ideology, they are for 'large' government. From this perspective, saying Republicans are for small government 'and social conservatism' is a contradiction. You simply can't be both. The truth would be that they are for small government except on social issues. A pretty huge exception.
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  9. #79
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    Re: Should the government legislate morality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dittohead not! View Post

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
    So, how does legislating morality help to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
    You emphasize a different phrase, and I agree with you they there state the purpose of government. I would also draw people's attention to the phrase I have highlighted. The one where the give a rationale for the justification for creating laws. It is just social contract theory. A theory requiring no moral justification in it's application.
    You can never be safe from a government that can keep you completely safe from each other and the world. You must choose.

  10. #80
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    Re: Should the government legislate morality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dittohead not! View Post
    So, how does legislating morality help to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
    It helps when that morality agrees with your values and you can push them upon others who disagree with you.


    I guess I'd be libertarian on this issue in that I don't think the government should be involved in legislating anything related to social issues.
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