Wednesday, May 20, 2009

On Morality and Government

Even though I am a Bible-thumping fanatic (sometimes literally), I have strange ideas when it comes to the role that government plays with regards to morality.  I am a Christian Libertarian, after all.
I know, the typical reaction I would get when I say I am a far-right Christian is that I wish to establish some sort of theocracy in some capacity.  I am really not surprised if someone calls me a crazy, right-wing bigot to my face.   In any case, I have more trouble when dealing with conservatives, who are more rational for the most part, because I often tell them that immoral behavior should not necessarily be a crime.
As a Christian, I believe that prostitution degrades women, gambling is stupid, and drugs are self-destructive.  Yet I believe that none of these actions should be considered a crime by any standard because, quite simply, I believe that crime is where one individual violates (or attempts to violate) another individual’s life, liberty, or property rights through force or fraud.
The definition is simple but still features broad-reaching crimes such as murder, kidnapping, rape, child-molestation, public indecency, and theft, all of which are criminal acts.  The problem is that the laws need to be laid out in painstaking detail so that even the dumbest of jury pools (which would constitute an average IQ of about 78, common among most juries selected these days) could easily convict, provided the evidence presented left out reasonable doubt.
So of course you have work out questions like whether or not debt collections trying to collect bankrupted debt is attempted theft or not (which I believe it is).  Usually such cases are ignored by criminal courts and settled in civilian courts.  In any case, there are specific details that would need to be worked out and of course the debate would be ongoing, however, the general framework for criminal acts remains defined as a solid foundation.
One of the big problems I have, however, with many conservatives that this is how I define crime and they immediately equate it to anarchism and wanting social ills to run rampant.  The truth is, social ills will run rampant regardless of what laws are passed and this is clearly not anarchism.  But still, I get conservatives who know where I stand purposely distorting my view because they do not desire to listen but instead hold fast to fighting evil through the force of government.
What they fail to realize that the laws we have were instituted by the will of the people through their duly elected representatives.  Because I draw my moral standards from God, I shudder to think that my morality could be defined by a government that changes with the attitudes of the dumb masses.  I am always surprised that conservatives, who demand that government spending and taxation be reduced, want to impose moral standards of decency through government.
The only tried and true method of imposing decency is through socially acceptable terms.  Society itself needs to change in order for immoral actions to be reduced.  For Christians, this means more interaction with the community and more outreach and evangelism.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of America’s Christians are too inept and/or selfish to do all this.
But that is a whole other article….