While it’s not government’s role to advance morality, it’s also not its role to advance immorality *UPDATED*

Libertarians have it right when they say it’s not the government’s responsibility to legislate morality.  It’s the people’s responsibility to be moral.  Government’s job is to have “few laws, but unbreakable,” all directed at a stable, just (not fair, but just), constitutional society in which citizens have the best opportunity to live free and, one hopes, moral lives.

The fact is that, way too often, once government starts legislating morality, those efforts backfire.  Prohibition is the perfect example of this backfire.  By the second half of the 19th century, America was awash in liquor, and it was becoming a terrible problem, especially for the poor.  It wasn’t at all uncommon for the family breadwinner, whether male or female, to drink away earnings and then die young from alcohol-related diseases or accidents.

Dry movement

Faced with this epic disaster, society responded with a vast Temperance movement aimed at getting people to stop drinking.  This was a social movement — a grassroots movement, long before that term was invented.  Young men swore temperance oaths and young women swore that “Lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine.”

Bootleggers

By the time WWI started, vast swaths of America had voluntarily gone dry.  Prohibition wasn’t the leading edge of Temperance, it was the tale end, and what a disastrous tail it was.  Those who didn’t want to drink had already stopped.  And those who did want to drink instantly became criminals for engaging in an activity as old as humankind.  Worse, prohibiting a popular activity, even in its most reasonable form, created a giant vacuum that sucked in every two-bit criminal and big-time hood in America.

We want beer

When alcohol was outlawed, only outlaws drank, brewed, and sold the stuff. Not only did Prohibition fail to legislate morality, it undid much that the previous Temperance movement, which relied on peer pressure and moral suasion, had achieved when it came to convincing Americans to temper their drinking.

Just as bad as legislating morality is legislating immorality, which is where today’s American governments, local, state, and national go.  I stumbled across this fact when I tried to go online to renew a prescription for one of my children and was told that I couldn’t have any access to my child’s medical record, including prescriptions.  In California, when a child turns 12, he or she can keep secret his or her record.  My kid can’t get her ears pierced, can’t go paint-balling, can’t ski, and can’t get a salon tan without my input, but your daughter and mine can get the Pill or an abortion without your being the wiser for it.

Birth Control Pills

As it happens, the Pill, which some schools hand out like candy, is anything but innocuous.  To begin within, it’s ridiculous to think that you can feed nuclear-powered hormones into a prepubescent or pubescent girl without have some effect on what should be her natural development.  In addition to that, those side effects you hear about the Pill are real.  Girls are worried they’ll gain weight if they go on the Pill.  What they should be worried about is strokes, blood clots, or vomiting themselves to death.  I’ve known people who have suffered from all of these side effects although, thankfully, all survived.  This is the last thing that loving parents should allow the state to determine for their child without parental input.

Ask your average liberal why this is so, and he will tell you a terribly sad story about a girl growing up in a horrible home who was raped by her uncle, or her mother’s boyfriend, and, when she turned up pregnant, was beaten or turned out onto the street.  That is an affecting tale but how common is it, really?  I don’t have statistics at hand, but common sense tells me that the vast majority of parents love their daughters.  If a girl wants to have teen sex or shows up pregnant, these loving parents want to be involved — and their involvement is the best thing that can support a child who is about to make or has already made a bad decision.

Getting my ears pierced

These hard luck stories mean that we have created a tyranny of the minority.  Liberals will say that the beauty of America is that it protects the minority by drafting legislation protect those minorities.  But this isn’t how it’s supposed to work.  America protects the minority by assuring that every member of a minority group (whether defined by race, religion, sexual orientation, country of origin, etc.) gets the full benefit of available constitutional rights and is not subject to prejudicial laws or conduct.  It does not mean that 90% or more of the country has its rights stripped away because some girls come from backgrounds that  see them mistreated.  Maltreated girls are tragic situations that a moral people should want to remedy, but that a government should never address with legislation.  It’s not government’s job to try to legislate away the human condition.

So next time a liberal tells you that he’ll never vote Republican because Republicans try to legislate morality, you might want to tell that person that the problem with Democrats is that they consistently legislate immorality.  A good opportunity to make this point might be when one of your liberal friends is outraged that his daughter was confronted in a public restroom by a naked man with fully functioning physical equipment who claimed that his presence there was perfectly legal because he self-identifies as a woman.  Or you could advance this point of view when your liberal next door neighbor calls from the ER to ask for your help because his daughter went septic from an abortion — and he didn’t even know she was pregnant.  Or perhaps you’ll throw it into a conversation with the woman at your office who is counting her lucky stars that her teen daughter will recover from the stroke she got after the Pill, which Mom didn’t know she was taking, caused her to have a blood clot.

UPDATE:  Earl left a comment pointing out that it’s not nice to lecture people about politics when they’re facing a life crisis.  He’s absolutely right.  I was making a rhetorical point and got carried away.  I also live in a community where everybody thinks everything that happens is an opportunity to inject politics, so I’m a little bit touchy.

As it is, were I to raise the subject at a sensitive time, I’d raise it sympathetically:  “Oh, my God!  That’s terrible.  I can’t believe she almost died.  You must have been so shocked to discover that your daughter had an abortion.  How did it happen that she was able to do it without you?  Really?  The law just let’s her?  That’s bizarre.  I know you guys ignore her.  This is something you would have wanted to discuss with her.  It just doesn’t seem right for the law to kick you out of the relationship….”  That kind of thing, trickled out over many conversations.

 

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  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

     
    It’s tempting, to be sure….some call these times the “teachable moments”……
     
    However, I (personally) would be VERY cautious about making a political point when a friend or acquaintance is telling me of a tragedy in his/her life – even if everything turned out well.
     
    The naked guy in the restroom – assuming it was just a matter of “OMG” and no more – sure.  But, thinking about the other two situations, I get real squeamish…..
     
    Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t imagine reacting in a positive manner were I on the receiving end of someone’s “information-sharing” at such a time.

  • http://vinnysrants.blogspot.com vinny

    Every time I took a standardized test during my long medical education, I would stubbornly answer this question wrong. The government has been proselytizing doctors on this nasty issue for over 15 years.  And every time I am asked whether a doctor should have a barely teen girl discuss oral contraceptives with her parents, I will stubbornly say yes.  I have to get the parent’s permission to tell a teenager to take an aspirin, but I am forbidden to discuss hormone therapy with the parents. It is so wrong….
    I am just glad that I am not a pediatrician and this issue doesn’t come up in my daily work.

  • barbtheevilgenius

    I wrote about this several weeks ago on my blog. Not only are some schools handing out birth control, they are also handing out IUDs, NuvaRings, and Plan B, which from what I’ve read is the most dangerous of all. One parent even figured out, “Hey, they’re doing this in poor black and Latino neighborhoods. Maybe they’re trying to use population control.”
    http://barbtheevilgenius.blogspot.com/2013/02/consequences.html
    Not only did I have to be present when my daughters’ ears were pierced, I had to show my driver’s license. And this was my sis-in-law doing the piercing; she works at a jewelry kiosk. But she had to take the info.

  • MacG

    “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams

  • jj

    No need to lecture them, you just point out, in passing, as it were: “well, you reap what you sow, too bad – what kind of weather you been having, out your way?”  I’m probably not as nice you are, but I do work against the concept of people being their own enemies.  The only way to correct it is not shy away from noting the fact.  Once – you needn’t rub it in.  But it shouldn’t go unremarked, either, that “you did this to yourself, even if it was only by your acquiescence to societal idiocy.”
     
    The tyranny of the minority is an all-too-common result of the back-asswards world of American law.  I’m sure that there probably was a little girl somewhere, sometime, who suffered from a horrendous Uncle Harry with the result her life followed the trajectory you outlined above – but most little girls didn’t.  Somewhat like the recent tragedy in Newtown, in which a nut took a legally-owned gun and devastated a school and community.  He did that, yes he did; but 99,999,999 other gun owners didn’t.  (Nobody really knows how many gun owners there are – my state is one of the many where there’s no need to register – so let’s make it about a third of Americans.)  Nonetheless, everybody is supposed to fall obediently into orbit around the legal knee-jerks in reaction to the latest incident, no matter how rare such incidents in fact are.
     
    This is the brainless approach.  It of course appeals to liberals because it’s easy, requires no thought, and results in greater government control of individual liberties.  Individual liberties, including the liberty of a parent to direct her own kid’s life, always worry liberals.  So much of what was basic to this country has fallen to the tyranny of the minority it’s occasionally amazing.  I grew up thinking that we’re a sort of democracy (in spite of what we all learned in grade school we’re not a democracy, we’re a representative republic) and in such systems the majority rules.  Failed – as so many of us did – to take lawyers in ball gowns into consideration.  Turns out it doesn’t matter what the majority says; if it offends somebody sufficiently, some retired ambulance-chaser in a ball gown will nullify what the majority had to say.  California’s about to find that out.  The majority of Californians, even the illegal voters, voted against gay marriage.  That clear expression is about to not matter, because Ruth Buzzi Ginsberg and a couple of other slobs you wouldn’t allow into your home don’t like it – and they are your true emperors.  You just didn’t know it, growing up.  If it’s a good estimate that the gay population is between 3 and 6% of us, the other 94 to 97% better just get ready to lump it, and watch that dog wag.
     
    That’s the real minority that tyrannizes everyone: the ones in ball gowns seated at the heads of tables all over the country.  There is always at least one who can be found to go along with any idiocy any idiot proposes because he’s personally offended.  There can always be found one who will take this private discontent and work to make it a problem for everybody by turning it into a… well… yes: federal case; to which and by which we’ll all be bound.  It’s a pretty amazing system we’ve developed -if “developed” is the word.  I don’t think we developed it, I think it just grew and grew, like a tumor, sucking on the blood supply of everything around it.
     
    Tyranny of the minority, but the real minority inclined to tyrannize may not be who you think they are.  You may indeed have to look behind the curtain, where the enabler in the ball gown squats, like a cockroach in a dark crack.         

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  • KellyM

    “When alcohol was outlawed, only outlaws drank, brewed, and sold the stuff.”
     
    Not always. My grandmother was the last of eight children. She was born in 1920. Nana’s father and eldest brother were killed in a coal mining accident, and not long after her mother died. The remaining children were taken in by a spinster aunt who did what she could to put food on the table for these orphans.  At some point  her aunt and  brothers started making and selling bootleg whiskey, using a borrowed vehicle to deliver their orders in the dead of night. Nana doesn’t recall what the alcohol was, but does recall the still was set up behind the big cookstove in the kitchen. Her brothers were in their early teens, I think, and as far as it’s known, never got caught.  We had a tough time getting the details because she couldn’t stop laughing. (Of course, my grandmother is known to take a drink or two under extreme social pressure – LOL.)
     
    But all hilarity aside, I’m sure it made the difference between eating and not eating. The poverty she experienced as a child is difficult to imagine. As soon as her eldest siblings were able, they were working to support the household. Nana was the only one who graduated from high school. As much as the criminal element was alive and well during Prohibition, I suspect these events were common in many households across the country.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    KellyM:  I certainly don’t believe that your grandmother was morally an outlaw — but, because of Prohibition, she was technically an outlaw.  The law took a morally neutral activity (brewing or drinking alcohol) and made everyone a felon.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Slaves and serfs are not fit to tell the rulers of a democracy or republic what to do.
     
     

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    “Earl left a comment pointing out that it’s not nice to lecture people about politics when they’re facing a life crisis.  He’s absolutely right.”
     
    In peace, perhaps. Being nice in war nets you no benefits nor does it save the innocent. Of course, one can always deny being at war too until the heads of all one’s family conveniently falls off.
     
    The Left is not nice, because they of all people know they are in an existential war with us. There can be only one victor, and the defeated will be erased from the annals of history, completely.
     
    When people can find a way to win by being nice, I’ll be the first one to listen to that plan. Until then, Earl is still correct about the methodology. For the LEft does not use personal friends to preach and convert their social circle, but instead uses slave cannonfodder from non government organizations to prowl the streets as Leftist missionaries of death. They, because you are a mere stranger/quota/paycheck/tool to them, won’t be afraid to tell you what it really is.
     
    Politics don’t actually matter in the end. Only beliefs, power, from the foundations of epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics matter. Politics is the application of such beliefs in the real world, and as such, the Left controls the past, and so controls the present and future. Political victories are guaranteed when one controls a person’s reality and beliefs. “Arguing with people about politics” is useless. Making them admit that the Left is evil, that evil defines the Left, that truth is against the Left, will be more impactful in the end. It’s hard to get fighters on your side when everyone thinks you are the spawns of satan, yet have no gold nor wealth to offer anyone. Not even Mephistopheles would have gotten that soul without paying a price.
     
    The Left doesn’t “inject” politics into everything. To them, everything, including prosperity, wealth, having a job, breathing, and eating comes from giving the right political signals. Those that don’t, are exiled and left to die outside the herd. It is an implicit threat when they raise the issue. They are testing you to see if you an ally of the Revolution or a “Counter-Revolutionary”. Whether you will be “reported to the inner circle” for violations that will be enforced by the secret police, or whether you are a loyal ally and friend.
     
    Training the people to function in such fashions is one of the prerequisites of maintaining a totalitarian regime. If the people don’t report on each other, not even the best of the secret police can ferry out all dissenting elements.
     
    They, of all people, know which side their bread is buttered on. They, of all people, know, implicitly, that they are in a war of existential good and evil against us.
     
    Coincidentally, they are about the only ones that know this.

  • Spartacus

    How very far the art of advertising has come in a century:  Looking at the fine ladies in the first photo, gathered around the sign declaring, “LIPS THAT TOUCH LIQUOR SHALL NOT TOUCH OURS,” my first thought was, “I’ll drink to that!”
     
    That’s shallow, inappropriately judgmental, cruel, and wildly off-topic, but I’d be dishonest if I denied noticing that the more socially conservative elements of society having “messaging” and communication failures appears to be nothing new.

  • jj

    Now, that was mean, Spartacus.  Noticing that they all look like recently exhumed week-old corpses, well – how unkindly un-PC are you?

  • Mike Devx

    Re; Spartacus 11 and jj 12:  Ditto!  I thought exactly the same thing.
    I guess that makes me the Third Little Sexist Pig
     

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    One trick with a lot of historical success is rather simple, though somewhat pragmatic and ruthless. If a group will not side with you, then all you have to do is to get their leader to oppress that group and force them your way.
     
    If the Left’s strengths are fear inducing social shame and political death squads, then use them. If one is not willing to liberate the oppressed, then make the Left crush the weak harder, oppress them further, strip them of their dignity and their welfare checks as punishment for siding with the enemy.
     
    If their chosen method of control is to get the shooting squad for Uncle Toms, then present them evidence, false, of other Uncle Toms to be exterminated. Frighten more blacks, goad them with talk that if they don’t shut up their white Democrat masters will pull them back in line. Increase the terror. Increase the oppression. And people will begin to have second thoughts about their loyalty to the regime.
     
    If people aren’t willing to liberate the oppressed by providing them power, only lecturing them about duty and personal responsibility, this is a very efficient solution. It’s also pretty lazy and favored by those like Mao, but one can’t have everything in a war.

  • KellyM

    Book,
    Thank you for your response. I’m giggling as I read it, envisioning my sweet 92 year old Nana as an “outlaw”. Her brothers on the other hand…
    I see what you were getting at in saying that the government took something that was morally neutral and flipped it upside down, thus rendering most people in the country outlaws. Thanks for the clarification.
     

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    My pleasure, Kelly.  What I was saying was that Prohibition turned law-abiding citizens into outlaws, while also opening the door wide for the real outlaws:  gangsters.  The culture had changed by the time Prohibition was passed but the government, by trying to legislate that cultural change essentially erased its benefits and ushered into a disastrous era of drink and crime.

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