I made a couple of comments on FB toward the end of the Vice-Presidential debate the other night. The comments have been very interesting. One fairly common notion came up in a discussion of abortion and legislation. (Please note: ordinarily I prefer to call “abortion” by what it properly is, that is, the wholesale murder of helpless infants, but I will use the accepted euphemism of “abortion” in this post. It’s nice how we can use words as smoke screens to disguise abject atrocity and out-and-out bloodletting.) This common notion, which is, I think, an obvious fallacy, is that one should never impose one’s morality on other people by way of public legislation.
Joe Biden is an attractive figure. He’s brash, outrageous, foolish, outspoken… in a word, he’s a fine specimen of a man. I like that. I like it allot (said like Lloyd Christmas). Personally, I think he’s my favorite of all four of the GOP and Dem candidates for P & VP. Biden, in what I take to be one of his foolish moments in the recent debate, said that he agrees with the Roman Catholic Church’s view on abortion in his personal life, but that he wouldn’t want to impose that belief on other people. This thinking, no doubt, dovetails with the idiotic bumper sticker: “Oppose Abortion? Don’t Have One.” All this seems to show a great respect to liberty of conscience. Why, after all, should someone’s personal scruples impact public policy? Why should Biden’s personal views factor into what I see fit to do in my life? One’s personal moral convictions simply have no place in the making of public policy, right?
The answers to these questions are obvious to modern Westerners, especially Americans. You know, “wall of separation” and all… that’s Constitutional language, isn’t it? Alright… enough playing around. Here’s the rub: it is only morals that can be legislated. Anytime someone says that such and such ought to be so, they’re applying a moral standard. Take infant murder… er, abortion as a test case. Supports of abortion say that abortions ought to be safe and legal. No more back-alley, coat-hanger jobs, they say. Such travesties oughtn’t be so. There ought to be freedom of access to legal, safe abortions. On the other side of the issue stand the neanderthal, knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, misogynistic pro-lifers. These narrow lunatics want to impose their morality on people by saying that abortion ought not be. Abortion, they say, is evil and ought not be a legal option.
What do these two positions have in common? Their vies of abortion are certainly not in common. The amusing thing is that they share a deeper commonality, a commitment to morality, a commitment to what ought to be. One says abortion ought to be legal, while the other says that abortion ought not be legal. “Ought” is the common feature. What is “ought”?
“Ought” is not what is, but what should be. What should be is based upon certain convictions regarding what is right and what is wrong. Thus, both those who support legal abortion and those who oppose it do so on moral grounds, on grounds of what ought to be.
From the example of abortion, it should be abundantly clear that legislation is nothing more than morality externalized. Laws, therefore, are always the imposition of someone’s morality upon others. While modern Americans pretend this isn’t so (or are simply ignorant to the fact), we are daily having morality imposed upon us, like it or not. Say it ain’t so, but morality drives legislation. Therefore, Biden’s quip that he wouldn’t impose his morality upon others is simply a lie. He most certainly will impose his morality upon other people. The trouble is that his morality is not that of the Roman Catholic Church. His morality says that people are free to cut unwanted babies into pieces. He is quite willing to impose THAT morality. Glory be to God, that THAT morality is not the morality of the Roman Catholic Church.
Let’s stop pretending… legislation is externalized morality. The real question is which morality is based upon truth. I submit that neither the GOP nor the Democrats are based upon truth. As Jesus says, “Sanctify them by your truth; your Word is truth.”