Tag Archives: law

No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) » Guilty

No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) » Guilty. This is… unfortunate. For what it’s worth, I tend to side with Dr. Watts. I’ve always had a problem with the customs process for crossing between the US and Canada. It’s been my experience that the guards there tend to be somewhat over-reactive about relative trivialities, so the fact that this event happened to Dr. Watts comes as no surprise. There is certainly shortage of horror stories from people who have found themselves handled somewhat indelicately by customs officials.

What I find disturbing is the trivial detail from Watts’ trial that resulted in his conviction — that, apparently, asking ‘Why’ is enough to garner a felony judgment.

The whole situation seems unfortunate, as by all accounts, Dr. Watts is pretty stand-up guy. Here’s hoping the judge passes a suspended sentence in April.

Laws and Morals

I love getting feedback, whether it be to one of my own articles or to a comment left on another site, and I certainly have plenty to think on and respond to today.

bq. I agree that “what is right for me is not right for everyone” does not apply to laws – Laws are absolute. It does however apply to morals, as morals are subjective. Everyone’s morals differ – Some people have stronger morals than others. Some people have no morals at all. For instance, how is it morally acceptable in some regions for a man to have multiple wives, but it is morally wrong in other areas for that same occurence. Vegans think it is morally wrong for you to eat meat, but that doesn’t strike me as being a bad thing. I also don’t find it morally wrong for two men to have sex, but there is a large population of people who do find it wrong. “#”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=103#comment-246

The question that I have that comes immediately to mind here is this — are not all our _absolute_ laws based on _subjective_ morals, according to this reasoning? Does this not then make said laws subjective? How does something based on subjectivity somehow gain absolutivity? All laws in all nations are based on some set of morals. This is a necessity. It is, in fact, the only possibility. Laws are the practical application of an abstract value. If we follow this reasoning through to its logical conclusion, then we have to admit that anyone can establish and follow any laws that they want, since they are based on some value system, some system of morality that is relative to the individual. Since your moral system is different than mine, then your laws cannot apply to me, unless I agree with whatever moral your law is based upon. In essence, if I kill someone, I am justified, so long as my moral system allows for the killing of another human being. You cannot apply your intolerant law against murder to me because your law is based on your value that murder is wrong, a value which I happen to disagree with. Your moral, and hence your law, is not right for me and therefore cannot be applied to me, since it would restrict my freedom to do and believe as I choose.

In actual practice, of course, we see that this simply cannot work. Laws exist so that large groups of people may live together in peace. This is the primary reason, I believe, why government exists, to enforce the peace. Laws, however, _must_ be based on some set of morality. Laws are practical statements of morals. The local governing body simply bases their laws upon those values that are most likely to ensure the greatest amount of peace and least amount of conflict. Sometimes, they get it right; sometimes they don’t. In the case of the previous example, someone has to decide what value to enforce in order to keep the peace and the one that works best is enforcing the sanctity of life. (Notice that this is a functional, rather than an ethical, definition at the moment, one that ignores any mention of right and wrong.)

bq. So the fact remains that as long as abortion IS legal in certain areas, it is a moral issue and not a law. When it is a moral issue, the morality of it is personal to each person who thinks on it. So, in your opinion, abortion is morally wrong. I however live in an area where abortion is legal, and although I do not agree with the reasons why a lot of women have abortions, I do not think that I am one to judge someone for their decision to have one, as their morals are obviously different than my own.

Everything is a moral issue. Every deed, every thought, every word spoken is based upon some moral. But as I have stated before, laws are also based upon morals, and what legalizing abortion says to me is that it is ok to commit murder, so long as the child is not yet born. Of course, the underlying value here that is the real center of debate is whether a fetus can be called human. I know of few people who do not at least _claim_ to value the sanctity of life. The difference in the argument centers on the fact that some people believe human life begins at conception and some believe that human life begins at birth. This is both a philosophical and theological point and not one that is likely to be settled anytime soon, since science cannot seem to adequately answer this question (lending further proof to my conclusion that science is ill-equipped to handle the questions of beginnings, but that is an argument for another time). Unfortunately, this also means that the abortion debate will not be settled anytime soon, either.

Subjectivity of Truth

For me, the fact remains that what is right for one person may not be right for everyone.

I really hate this argument in most instances in which it crops up. It is essentially the admission of the individual that they do not believe in absolute truth, not surprising considering the postmodern philosophy of the vast majority of our culture. But I generally dislike this argument, despite the fact that it does at times have legitimate applicability. It reminds me of schoolyard children taunting each other with, “I know you are, but what am I?” It has always held for me, perhaps unfairly, that tone and that attitude of superiority and condescension toward the opinions of others. It is not even so simple as the individual who says this implying that they disagree with another opinion and are just too polite to say so; often, the individual really believes that what is right for you may not be right for me.

For personal preferences, this argument makes sense. For instance, chocolate ice cream may be my favorite, but because vanilla might be your favorite, then chocolate is not right for you. And because there are no laws or moral or ethical rules that dictate that chocolate must be everyone’s favorite, it is completely legitimate in this case to say that what is right for you may not be right for me.

Where it comes to laws and morals, however, there are absolutes, so what is right for me must also, necessarily, be right for you. I cannot commit murder. It is immoral and illegal. There are laws against such behavior, and justice is meted out for such crimes. All people are governed by laws against murder, and so there is an absolute measure for what is right and what is wrong in murder.

The waters have been muddied where it comes to abortion, though. Somehow, a fetus is not considered human until it is born. Legally, it has no rights, not even the right to live. It is completely up to the whims of the mother to determine whether or not the child — excuse me, the fetus, the _parasite_ — is brought to term. Traditional emphases on the value of all human life are tossed aside. It became convenient to think of the unborn as less than human because then there is no conflict, no guilt involved with terminating a tiny life. What was once straightforward thinking has now become shaded in gray — what is right for you may not be right for me. You may choose to have your baby, but that may not be the right thing for _me_ to do. The emphasis is on the self, with little thought given to life growing inside the womb.

It is all very convenient when truth becomes subjective. The only person I have to answer to, then, is myself.