Followers of this blog will know of a major theme of many of my posts: The idea that individual freedom is the moral issue, and moral basis, behind the existence of free governments and free societies.
Awhile back, this author wrote an extensive article on the topic. You can find it here. I would still recommend it for reading for anyone attempting to merge the ideas of morality and legislation/court rulings. The article confronts the false alternative between those who champion legislating a particular moral code, and those who erroneously claim that “we” should not be “legislating morality” – which is, of course, impossible.
Also in the article, I recommended learning from examples around the world, – namely, Russia, Nigeria, and Uganda – and recognizing the same principles as they apply so very often here amongst the States, and even locally. As an update on some of the issues touched on in that article, I am making this post which is intended to be quick. We will see how that goes…
Recently in Nigeria, according to the Guardian, four men, aged between 20 and 22, have been convicted of “gay sex” and were whipped publicly. They each had to lay prostate on the floor of the court as they were whipped in the back. They are also each threatened with a year imprisonment if any of them do not come up with a fine of roughly 120$ or so when converted to “dollars”, or rather, Federal Reserve Notes. This is a lot of money considering the fact that Nigeria, in relation to the US, is extremely poor.
Is this justice? Is this moral?
Does seeking “justice” involve using coercion to infringe on these four individuals’ respective property rights, to engage in assault and battery against them publicly – even under the “robes of legality”- and then, not only threatening them further, but also potentially throwing them in a cage in the future – all due to consensual and voluntary activity in which no other mortal peer was palpably harmed?!
Compare this action to the principle outlined in this excellent quotation from Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, as found in his Notes on the State of Virginia: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.”
Please notice the profound difference between government adjudicating between two parties, one of which claims to be harmed on one hand, and the state, a legal fiction that is not living in and of itself with even the potential to actually being harmed, actually being used as formal justification in the harming of a party due to the state officers’ disagreements with how one acted. One involves actual representation of the allegedly harmed party involved, while the other involves the State, an immaterial “legal fiction” – often a corporate entity – acting in it’s own interests, and forcing the moral code championed by a majority of the legislators on the people whose rights they are supposed to be protecting, as opposed to violating.
If people do not understand this, I am afraid that their moral code will likely not be in full harmony with the Natural Law that “dictates”, if you will, or rather actually IS the only form of universal morality in existence. This Natural Law is found in mathematics and the laws of physics just as much as they are found in the realm of fundamental rights and the proper scientific role of good government. For those who claim that there is no such thing as a higher moral law, keep in mind that the Indiana legislature, in 1897, nearly defined pi as 3.2. Suppose that they had actually done so for a moment. Would that have changed reality? Would a statute making “illegal” the law of gravity change anything in terms of what is real and true?
This hierarchy of Law is illustrated in the words often credited to St. Thomas More at his trial:“Some men say the earth is round and some say it is flat. If it is round, can the King’s command flatten it; and if it is flat, can Parliament make it round?”
The answer is, of course, No. We just seem to lack the internalization of what that answer means in regards to all forms of human activity, including state action. The question everyone must ask themselves is this: Why would the answer not be yes, if not for an overarching moral law that is simply reality itself? Truth is simply reality. Reality is simply things as they were, as they are, and as they will be.
Now, with all that being said, lets go back to the point with Nigeria. If these punishments don’t sound bad enough yet, consider the fact that the judge himself considered the punishments to be “lenient” due to the fact that these four individuals admitted this was past conduct that is not continuing currently.
Is there any correlation between this insanity and the fact that there was a mob outside the courtroom that was trying to stone the men, and were even crying out for the judge to sentence them to death? Does anyone still wonder about the maxim that the governing system is a reflection of the people themselves? And yet, as I have pointed out before, if the underlying evil is, ipso facto, homosexuality, then why don’t the “moral crusaders” – who, ironically, seem to ignore the Golden Rule taught by moral teachers from time immemorial – call for similar things here?
As for now, it looks as though the “wave of arrests” will continue in Nigeria, as both the Christian and Islamic groups there, generally, seem very supportive of this measure – in the name of “public morality” no doubt.
This blasphemous mindset – since tyranny itself infringes on the rights God has protected for men to enjoy, it is indeed blasphemous – is continued and shown in the next section on Uganda, where the sponsor of the “Anti-Homosexuality Act” that was just signed into “law” there, MP David Bahati, stated to the BBC: “Homosexuality is just bad behaviour that should not be allowed in our society“.
Who is the “our” he is referring to? Is it the state itself, or a majority of the people? Or even a powerful minority faction? Are the consenting adults magically not part of that society? And who is David Bahati to “play God” in referring to what should or should not be the private actions of individuals who are not directly harming the other members of that society? “God doesn’t force men on this earth, so why should puny mortal man do so.”
Of course, in contradistinction, apparently in these countries, publicly whipping, robbing, throwing people into cages, and otherwise violently infringing on the individual freedom of consenting adults – regardless of the moral conclusion of whether or not the conduct was right or wrong for that individual- “should be” allowed in these societies. In the eyes of people who currently hold this position, consenting private action that disagrees with their mere opinion, regardless of whether or not that opinion is correct, is the barbaric practice; And yet, public action of coercion that does, in fact, directly affect the rights of the so-called “criminals” involved, is not considered barbaric, and is actually promoted and exercised.
So much for a true moral compass. And so much for the axiom of refraining from doing to others what people would not want to have done to themselves. And so much for the state officers being governed by the same moral code it so often expects of the citizens they claim to represent.
Would enslaving or the caging of someone who disagrees with your particular moral code and opinion concerning an action that doesn’t directly and palpably harm another individual be moral and lawful? The answer is obviously “No”. So, then how does this type of conduct magically become, and even become considered “moral”, when the state of Uganda does so? Of course it doesn’t. This is, at best, fallacious and ignorant.
Black is often considered White, and White is often considered Black in this type of perverted political situation.
According to the BBC on February24, Ugandan president Museveni has signed the bill hinted at in the previous article, the Anti-Homosexual Act, into so-called “law”. Government officials clapped loudly as the President publicly signed the bill – all while the invited media watched the proceeding and even reported on the widespread public support of the measure.
Keep in mind that Uganda already had a statute criminalizing homosexuality, and this bill only toughens the penalty and attempts to spread the reach of its’ ability to punish those found to be out of compliance with it’s measures. The penalty for non-compliance is now up to life imprisonment.
The bill even penalizes such “gay” activity of the citizenry of Uganda, even if it occurs outside of Uganda, and even threatens to seek out extradition for punishment for such behavior that is found out. [Note for those who do not know: Extradition is simply the formal surrender by one jurisdiction to another jurisdiction of an individual accused or convicted of an offense in the jurisdiction which is demanding the surrender]
And you have to know the situation is really bad when the “good news” concerning the “law”, as reported by the BBC, is the fact that the final version had the clause removed that criminalized even the non-reporting by others of homosexuals or homosexual conduct. The provision mandating the death penalty was also removed.
Yet, as has already been pointed out, if the underlying premise behind the defense of such tyrannical state action – even amongst the states with arguments, such as the State of Utah, supposedly in “defense of traditional values” are fully accurate, especially in the legal context – why not take it to that extreme? After all, in the words of of President Museveni himself, a man with this worldview, as found in this interview with CNN: “Being gay is not a right“.
Museveni states, as one of his arguments in defense of this bill, that the science doesn’t show that homosexuality was an in-born tendency, and therefore it was not a right. Yet, how is this argument even a guiding principle of legal action in the first place? Just because we may not be able to show scientifically that I was born with a tendency toward political thought – does that mean I don’t have a right to speak out on political matters? Even if my views are considered immoral, extreme, and of the evil quality warned against in the Bible?
Jefferson truly did correctly state a self-evident truth – or in his original rough draft, a truth which is “sacred and undeniable” – when he stated that the “right to pursue happiness” is unalienable to the human condition. This includes all relative standards when it comes to the individual mindset and belief structure, so long as no one else is directly harmed in the process of acting out that belief system. In other words, the right to pursue happiness entails the duty to not infringe on anyone else’s ability to likewise pursue the same. This moral standard does not magically change when extending it to government action either.
Yet, that all being said, why did the Ugandan leaders even moderate the measure at all? Well, even a bully, or in this case, a mechanism run and supported by those with this bullying instinct, knows when they should back off from a fight they cannot win. That even includes cases where it is a majority of the people, whom in this case, according to CNN and Museveni himself, support him and this “law” due to it’s being “good for society“.The reason as to why they “cannot win”, which then is obviously not a domestic concern, may actually coincide with some additional irony.
The fact is that these two African nations receive foreign so-called “aid” at the expense of the US taxpayer. So, thanks to the political endorsement of robbery here at home, via forced “distribution of wealth”, YOU, the tax-payer are not only funding the tyranny here at home, but tyranny abroad. And of course, the ruling elites of these nations which depend on that foreign “aid”, may only do as much as they can also get away with in the eyes of those who fund them.
This is the part of this updating article when this author naturally becomes even more cynical, for better or for worse. Please sense this in reading further, for this example is yet the most trivial thus far, yet still based on the same immoral premise spoken of earlier on the page.
In Russia, as well as Belarus and Kazakhstan, the “Anti-Family Value-ists” have yet taken another hit! This time, it involves what is considered being simply “immodest”. Immodesty is an issue concerning “public morality”, right? These three countries have announced a ban on the importation, production, or sale of any underwear containing less than 6% cotton – often simply termed “synthetic lingerie”.
There was even a lady showed to be forcefully arrested by the police in Kazakhstan for protesting the measure, alleging that she should be able to legally acquire that underwear in that country just as before. (source: BBC) As she was being carried away she was yelling: “Why are you so scared of panties?”. This, obviously begs the question, is it truly out of fear of the panties, or rather out of love of power and domination of the people?
I don’t know about you, but I certainly feel like I am in a much more “moral” world knowing that people in those three countries are now less likely to be wearing underwear that some may consider to be immodest. Not out of the “goodness of their hearts” of course, but because the force of the state will punish them for so violating this arbitrary statute. (Heavy Sarcasm Added)
Because, we “all” “know”, for example, – even within the context of what even the Orthodox Church considers a “traditional marriage” – if a husband simply enjoys seeing his wife in that type of lingerie, that certainly should be considered “imprudent” in our society, right?? And even if they personally enjoy it, they “shouldn’t” and it certainly is “our business”, and thus, the business of the state to enforce this “public” mindset, right?? The “public” mindset which is obviously not held by all the members of that “public”, since if that were actually the case, there would be no impetus behind such a ban in the first place…? Leave it to the use of the State to promote ideas so supposedly good, that they must be mandatory! (Heavy, Heavy Sarcasm added)
And what else is the state for other than to force the will of some on others, right? Especially, since before the organization of civil society, we would have called this type of activity the product of mobs or gangs- in fact, the very mobs and gangs we were attempting to limit and prevent in organizing governments to begin with; yet with uniforms and state-issued badges, we call it “public action” for the “general welfare”. (Additional Heavy Sarcasm added)
I hope you notice how ideas that truly do resonate with the people at large, spread amongst them naturally via various means persuasion and noticeable results, and not coercion. The fact that nearly all, if not all, people use and benefit from technology did not come as a result of state force. It came as a result of good ideas being sold and exchanged via voluntary interaction amongst the people!
If an idea is truly so vital to society, promote it all you want via the means naturally available in the free society itself. Why is this concept considered so rogue in the first place currently? Shouldn’t the burden of proof truly be on those wanting to limit freedom, as opposed to those who want to merely exercise it?
And yet, even if the people do reject what is truly good for them, at least the consequences are mostly contained to those individuals’ who make such choices. Sure, in this context, the free market system is not perfect, because people are not perfect. But the freedom system is just and moral, due to the more obvious recognition of natural consequences. This is opposed to any tyrannical form, which is likewise an imperfect system, but which is, ipso facto, simultaneously the cause of much injustice and immorality.
Yet, the examples given above are yet more examples of a legally relativistic view driven by the vague concept of “public morality” and “moral” principle – or even the “general will” as Rousseau called it in his treatise ‘The Social Contract‘ – in practice.
These are examples of the state becoming the very type of entity that it was supposed to aid in preventing in the first place. In other words, this is the very type of activity, namely the forceful deprivation of the exercise of rights – including the rights of conscience, and belief – that we were seeking to avoid in organizing governments to begin with. This must be avoided for true social harmony and progress to occur in every aspect of the human condition.
For further argument debunking the mainstream view of legislating morality, or the lack thereof, please visit the article found here.