Why Morality is the Only Thing We Should Legislate

By Selwyn Duke - Posted at Canada Free Press:

“You can’t legislate morality!” is a common battle cry today. It’s thought to be a quintessentially American idea, even though the Founding Fathers never expressed such a sentiment. Nor did the early Americans who would unabashedly enforce a biblically based code of morality in their localities, both via social pressure and governmental laws, with transgressors sometimes spending time in stocks — or worse. No, our common battle cry is a modern idea, and one of modernism. It also betrays a fundamental, and dangerous, misunderstanding of law’s nature.

In reality, the only thing we should legislate is morality. The only other option is legislating whims or immorality.

One problem with addressing this issue, which I have done several times, is that many readers have a reason-clouding emotional reaction induced by the assumption that I’m advocating big government. So I’ll preface what follows by saying that even if we enact just one law — let’s say, prohibiting murder — we have legislated morality. The only people who could credibly say they wouldn’t legislate morality are those who wouldn’t legislate at all: anarchists.

I’ll start by putting this simply. Could you imagine a legislator saying, “This law doesn’t prevent something that’s wrong, but I’m going to impose it on you anyway”? What if he said, “This other law doesn’t mandate anything that is a good, but I’ll compel you to adhere to it simply because I feel like it”? Would you suppose his legislation had a sound basis? Or would you think that, unlike a prohibition against murder or theft, the imposition of something lacking a moral foundation (“rightness” or “wrongness”) was the very definition of tyranny?


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