Thursday, March 20, 2014

The mistake of government controlled morality

Belle Knox Duke student
I've written often about the word moral. I've talked about how it is too often used to support an argument. The definition of moral changes along with ideology and regional location. If you ask a leftist to to give an example, they will likely tell you that it is immoral for someone to be obese. If you ask a conservative about sex outside of marriage, they will tell you it is immoral. They might say sex during marriage is moral even if it was sanctified by a government representative versus a minister.

Morality has always been a social construct. In the USA, what is considered immoral in the south is often more accepted in the north – or the west. In America's past it wasn't immoral to marry a 12 year old girl, while in today’s society that is absolutely unacceptable. In those times life was about surviving. Male children were thought to be more capable at cutting firewood and plowing fields, while too often the female child was simply seen as  another mouth to feed. 

Female children were married off at or near puberty. Sometimes much older males would pay a diary for the right to marry that child. Arranged marriages are still happening around the world. Some of it might be for the same reasons as in our past, while in many cases it happens simply because it is now a tradition – just the way things are done.

Social standards evolve for a variety of reasons. In the modern American society arranged marriages are seen as barbaric. In today’s world, sex outside of marriage is much more common. In the not so distant past, sex for women outside of marriage was forbidden, while for men it was simply frowned upon. This is likely because it is the female that often bore the consequences for these liaisons. Out of wedlock births often stigmatized the woman and was too often a financial burden that was impossible to overcome. These pregnancies were also a barrier to future relationships. In short, the price for sex outside of marriage was too high. Because of science, out of wedlock births are less likely to occur. While the financial burden for out of wedlock births are still a problem, it doesn't carry the social stigma of the past.

There is a major change that happened in modern societies. Throughout history it was society that decided these matters. This is how it should be, because what might be a social problem for one village, might not be for another. Most modern Americans want government to control moral positions. History tells us that many thought Africans weren't human, which made it acceptable to enslave them.

Something as simple as clothing can be seen as a moral issue. In much of the past and even today in the Middle East, a woman could be punished for showing her ankles. As time passed in the USA and Europe it became acceptable to show the ankles and then the knees. Morality is as changing as are ladies' hemlines.
Many think that if the majority feels something isn't socially acceptable then it should be banned by government. There are those who would gladly imprison gays as it's done in other countries around the world. Thankfully, those people are not the majority in the USA. It is for this reason morality can't be a democratic decision.

The talk of today is about Duke University student, Belle Knox, who decided to pay her way through college by becoming a porn actress. You can imagine how her life has been transformed by this becoming common knowledge. Many conservatives are condemning her for this choice. This might not the the best life decision she will ever make, but it is one that should at least be noted as economically wise. She will graduate from a top university with no debt and the satisfaction of not having taken money she didn't earn.

Belle might have found an unexpected benefit from her choice that could possibly end her short porn career. She is becoming a media darling, not because of her job, but for her political awareness. She is a self professed libertarian forced by the system to be Republican. I can tell her she has a lot of company.

If American social standards hadn't evolved she would likely have been baring children by the time she was 15. Belle is teaching America that a few cannot sit in moral judgment of the world. Her decision could ultimately be a huge mistake, but it is one she is allowed make in a free society. We often learn best through our mistakes. If we let government control every aspect of our lives where small mistakes land us in prison or jail, then we might not learn the ultimate lesson that life can often teach. It has become clear that prisons and fines do little to nothing for changing social standards. Drug prohibition has done nothing to lower crime, and might have even been behind its increase. As drug laws have began to relax, violent crime has also decline.

Drugs, prostitution, fatty foods, salt on food, and gay marriage are all social issues that moralist want government to control or ban. The moralist are on both ends of the political spectrum. In my political ideology chart I placed libertarianism on the far right. If what I just said is true then libertarianism might be center or moderate.

It's expected when leftist want government control of everything they dislike, but it seems out of place when those calling for less government want the same thing, except in different areas. The most used argument for government control is that certain actions by people indirectly affect everyone else. If this is the case, then the government should just give us a daily list of activities that's acceptable, because so many things we do indirectly affects others. It is for this reason we can only allow government to control things that directly affect others, such as crimes like murder and robbery. No one will argue that either of those things should be allowed – except for the anarchists.

I doubt you can find people on either the left or right that don't believe government is corrupt and can be bought by the highest bidder. Imagine a country where control of your daily decisions, something as simple as the food you eat, can be bought by the highest bidder. The highest bidder can make sure a dangerous drug is approved by the FDA. The next time you ask government to control morality, another liberty is lost. All rights are innate, even the ones with which you disagree. Government can only remove rights, they cannot be given.

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