Today, I’d like to explore a topic that, while not directly related to prepping, does influence the direction that the United States is heading and thus it also affects our need for prepping. My intent for this post is to challenge your thinking and start a conversation in the comments section below. How about it? Are you ready?
The question: Can morality be legislated?
At first blush, it seems like a simple question. It’s clearly wrong to steal, to murder, and to assault someone. Those are easy examples. There are clear victims for those crimes. When we put laws in place to criminalize those activities, we are not legislating the morality or the good behavior of society; we are protecting the rights and personal liberties of an individual.
A more apt example is: should taking “illegal drugs” be illegal? When a person uses meth or cocaine, he is certainly destroying his own life. He is walking down a path that leads to destruction. But is he harming anyone else? Is there a victim to be protected? Should the government protect us from ourselves and our own bad choices? That’s the question.
What about prostitution? If two consenting adults enter into a relationship, albeit a very short one, should that be illegal? Since both parties are consenting adults, there is no victim. What about the spouse of one of the adults? Is he/she a victim? Marital trust was broken and the relationship was damaged or perhaps even destroyed, but no personal freedoms were infringed upon. So should the government get involved with our personal relationships? That’s the question.
Unethical or illegal?
The general consensus would probably be that these example activities are not moral or ethical. Few people would argue that taking mind-altering recreational drugs is a good moral choice. I’d doubt that many would say that visiting a prostitute is ethically ok. But does that mean these activities should be illegal?
Where does the line between personal liberties and freedoms end and societal and civil responsibilities begin? And how much of the line should be enforced through laws?
Put another way: what role should government and the laws it enacts play in our daily lives? Should it enforce norms that the majority find acceptable? What if the majority doesn’t fit your own norms?
It’s not a purely academic or theoretical question. There is a lot at stake. Great minds have struggled with this question for many years.
So, what do you think? Please be civil and considerate in your responses.
I’ll post my thoughts on the matter on Tuesday, August 28th, 2012.