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You Can (Not) Legislate Morality?

Renaissance Nerd Wrote: Jun 19, 2012 4:12 PM
All legislation is legislated morality. Morality really means a rough consensus of what a society considers right and wrong--it changes over time. Once upon a time women baring their ankles or legs or wearing makeup was considered immoral and only a prostitute would THINK of doing such a thing. Walk into almost any church and you'll see makeup and knee-length skirts. Some women will wear hose and some will not--actual bare legs. Immoral! Morality is mutable, but virtue is not; a woman wearing a knee-length skirt and too much makeup, or even (Heaven forfend!) a bikini, may be completely chaste. The morality provides at most a clue to the underlying virtue. VIRTUE cannot be legislated, it must be freely chosen.

It’s one of the perennial debates in America, especially when we’re faced with socially divisive issues: Can you legislate morality?

If we mean by that question, “Can you make people moral through laws?” the answer is plainly no. If we mean, “Are laws put in place to govern people’s moral behavior?” the answer is plainly yes.

Morality is actually one of the main things that we must legislate, and my suspicion is that even those who bristle at this statement actually agree. As Frank Turek observed, “It never fails. Whenever some conservative takes a stand on a moral issue, some liberal...