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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

In the public arena, all morality is dictated.

Responding to a comment by Jamie in the comments box in the prior post:

There is no such animal as a values-neutral society. It cannot be built. In fact, it cannot even be imagined--not even by John Lennon. Every act by the governing whatever of every society in history has involved the determination of what is moral followed by the imposition of said morality. Even refusing to act is a moral judgment.

Bluntly, it boils down to whose ox is getting gored.

Make no mistake: the Massachusetts Supreme Court in Goodridge no less than the voters of the State of Ohio last November imposed a moral judgment with respect to marriage upon the rest of the State's citizenry. Those who do not share the moral outlook of the Massachusetts Supreme Court were dictated to just as coercively as those who were on the losing end of the Ohio ballot initiative.

Every criminal conviction in the land is an imposition of morality, whether the crime is serial murder or computer hacking. Ditto the determination of whether something is constitutional or not.

Every legislative act--from the regulation of abortion, to age of consent laws, to alcohol regulation, to revisions of the Bankruptcy Code--involves a moral determination and the imposition of same.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, with its judgment on the equality of human personhood regardless of race, creed, color, sex or national origin, was a sweeping imposition of morality, right down to the regulation of the local supermarket. That it was, indeed, the objectively moral and proper action makes it no less an imposition. The law changed, and hearts followed. Even George Wallace's.

But, for some reason, the 21st Century alarm bells only go off when the banner under which the policy change is advanced is explicitly religious (read: so-called "conservative" Christian). The banner of strictly secular moral judgment, usually emblazoned with "fairness", "equality" or "rights," some of which I can support, and some of which I can't, somehow evades the "you’re imposing your values!" detector.

Odd, that.

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