The other day in my criminal law class at Harvard Law, the professor proposed the following scenario. Suppose you are walking home, when you encounter a man lying face-down in a puddle. Clearly, if he remains lying in the puddle, he will drown. By law, do you have to help him?
The answer is no. Omission to act is punishable only in certain circumstances: a parent allowing a child to drown, for example. But in other cases, such omissions go unpunished. When Kitty Genovese was murdered outside of an apartment building in 1964 as her neighbors looked on, none of the neighbors were punished, even though they could have easily picked up a phone and called the police.
The professor asked if such egregious misuses of liberty should stand unpunished by the law. To my surprise, a number of students answered yes; they stated that prosecuting omission to act would be a vital infringement on precious liberties.
It?s a sad commentary. These students were no libertarians ? they were full-fledged liberals, willing to tax and spend, but not to allow law enforcement to prevent outrageous acts of cruelty by purposeful ignorance. To students like these, liberty bears with it no responsibility.
But this is clearly not the case. Our liberty comes with strings attached; John Adams spoke truth when he said, ?Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.? If our liberty is used to ignore evil, we have betrayed the trust placed in us by the founding fathers.
And so I thank God for Townhall.com. Townhall.com speaks out loud and clear in favor of traditional Judeo-Christian morality. It gives writers like me a forum to lobby for morality in community and government; it gives readers like me the opportunity to view, every day, for free, the best defenses of foundational moral beliefs available anywhere. Every morning, when you open your email box, you find the best commentary on the web staring you straight in the face ? the answers you need for the day?s most challenging questions.
In a world ridden with moral confusion, Townhall.com is a lighthouse, pointing the way toward safe ethical ground.