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Forum topic by GregD posted 705 days ago 1175 views 0 times favorited 39 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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GregD

605 posts in 1719 days


705 days ago

Is it appropriate to criminalize an act – pass a law that makes it illegal – with the sole justification that it is considered by the proponents of the law to be an immoral act?

The US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the following in his dissent to Lawrence v. Texas:

State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding. See ante, at 572 (noting “an emerging awareness that liberty gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex” (emphasis added)). The impossibility of distinguishing homosexuality from other traditional “morals” offenses is precisely why Bowers rejected the rational-basis challenge.

(p. 590 of the ruling; p. 33 of the pdf available here)

Scalia is stating that it is, in fact, acceptable to enact a law with the specific intent to criminalize an act that is deemed immoral.

I assert that it is not.

The foundation of good governance is captured in spirit by this portion of the US Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, ...

In fulfilling its responsibility to secure these rights the government must establish practical and equitable limits so that the rights of one individual or group do not unfairly limit or infringe upon the rights of another individual or group. The government has a legitimate need to define appropriate boundaries between the competing interests of different parties. However, a law that limits the actions of an individual or group that have no significant practical effect on the rights of others is contrary to the fundamental purpose of the government, which is to secure rights for the governed. Its sole effect is to diminish an individual’s rights.

So it is just fine that a religious group promotes – by example and by advertising as it sees fit – its own view of morality. Print, broadcast, and Internet advertisements and programs railing against homosexual acts, fornication, adultery and contraceptives sponsored by the Catholic Church, for example, are not only perfectly acceptable, but in fact protected speech. Want to make disparaging remarks about Allah or the Koran? That’s protected too. But as there are no rights of the Catholic Church or of Muslims being infringed
upon by practitioners of these “immoral” acts, there must be no legal prohibitions against these acts. So while these practitioners may indeed be going to hell as the Catholic Church or Islam teaches, they are in fact citizens in good standing and deserve all the rights and privileges thereof.

Let’s keep morality as a personal choice and get it out of our legal systems.

What do you think?

-- Greg D.


39 replies so far

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

1623 posts in 1505 days


#1 posted 705 days ago

– with the sole justification that it is considered by the proponents of the law to be an immoral act?

Like murder or slavery?

-- In God We Trust

View GregD's profile

GregD

605 posts in 1719 days


#2 posted 705 days ago

Murder and slavery, and many acts that are held by many to be immoral, also have practical implications that would justify making them illegal, so no change there.

-- Greg D.

View trickshot's profile

trickshot

10 posts in 1101 days


#3 posted 705 days ago

Not sure where you’re going with this. What would you like to do legally that you can’t do now that most would consider immoral?

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Sawkerf

1730 posts in 1651 days


#4 posted 705 days ago

I think that Scalia is right in a purely legalistic sense. A legal code is society’s attempt (often imperfect) to codify it’s ideas of morality and ethics. Since it’s impossible to satisfy every one’s ideas, the legal code can only reflect the opinions of the majority. When and if those opinions change, the legal code should change also.

Our constitution has the nasty habit of getting in the way of laws prohibiting things that “everybody knows” are wrong. Since it’s the foundation of our legal system it can and does supercede other laws. It’s the job of the Supreme Court to decide if the other laws are unconstitutional.

Today, we find the concept of slavery totally immoral and have laws reflecting that belief. Slavery, however, predates written records and apparently existed around 11,000 years ago. For millennia, slavery was acknowledged by the legal systems of many civilizations. The concept of slavery being immoral is actually a relatively new idea (only a few hundred years old) in the western world that wasn’t accepted by the majority until the 18th century. At that time the abolitionists finally won the day and the practice was outlawed.

-- Adversity doesn't build character...................it reveals it.

View grizzman's profile

grizzman

6699 posts in 1886 days


#5 posted 705 days ago

everything stated in the first post is against the commandments of god, this is a wood working site, where the subjects in the forums are suppose to be able to be viewed by our children, and this garbage needs to be taken of, i shall flag it…until its gone..wood working is what we want here, not this vile junk.

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

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grizzman

6699 posts in 1886 days


#6 posted 705 days ago

morality was and is established in the scriptures, the holy bible stands against it all,,,,,by who, how about the god of heaven and earth, and his son Jesus Christ…...everyone living on this earth wll be judged by the god of this earth, its also stated in the book of mormon , just how the lord feels on this subject, the best thing to do is to remove this and take it to a different site, wood working is what we want to discuss here…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View derosa's profile

derosa

1532 posts in 1419 days


#7 posted 705 days ago

The US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the following in his dissent to Lawrence v. Texas:

State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding. See ante, at 572 (noting “an emerging awareness that liberty gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex” (emphasis added)). The impossibility of distinguishing homosexuality from other traditional “morals” offenses is precisely why Bowers rejected the rational-basis challenge.

(p. 590 of the ruling; p. 33 of the pdf available here)

Scalia is stating that it is, in fact, acceptable to enact a law with the specific intent to criminalize an act that is deemed immoral.
Fridays are always slow days here or this could illicit a serious $#*t storm.
It is the duty of the nation to create laws that keep the society as a whole on the straight and narrow and whether we acknowledge them or not many of those laws are based upon morals and ethics, far more then the sex laws, and they are necessary for the good of the population overall if government is doing its job correctly. Many of the sexual laws exist because there are negative ramifications for the individuals or society as a whole and that fact needs to be recognized and acknowledged as well even if those who would be for the legalization don’t wish to admit the fact.
Just for your list
bigamy- typically bad for the family unit, many children in such families actually experience a lot of neglect because such families typically will be larger, the most recent Time magazine lists some of the frequent cases. Societal if a significant number of men take more then one partner this has the potential to leave a large number of men without partners. This has the potential to increase cases of sexual assault, kidnapping, and rape. There is a lot of discussion around the imbalance of the sexes in China due to their one child policy. Although bigamy wouldn’t create as large a problem as china will experience the concerns are similar. The exception to this would be a scenario with a population disproportion weighted towards women such as in post Peloponnesian war Athens where it was promoted.

same-sex marriage- historically an issue when dealing with the need to keep population levels rising particularly in early society. One of the few old morals that can fall. Today this has the benefit of creating a pool of people who can adopt but aren’t adding the the overflowing gene pool unless they resort to medical intervention. The bible isn’t as anti this in the way many fundamentalists would want it to, it isn’t however sanctioned or blessed in the bible. In modern times about as important as not mixing fabrics or eating shrimp.

adult incest-known cause of birth defects, creates a medical issue for the society and can produce some messed up children.

prostitution- gray area, unless heavily regulated prostitution in very good at spreading illness and disease and for such should be avoided. Not to mention what it can do to the bodies, minds and mentality of the prostitutes.

masturbation-no longer outlawed, very few places actually did so with the exception of public indecency.

adultery- marriage is a government contract between two people, and if done with a religious leader a contract that includes the believer’s respective god. That would make it a breach of contract to start with. Also complicates the marriage should someone get knocked up potentially leading to a father who is caring for someone else’s child or splitting the father’s time between two families which isn’t the best for the family he is contractually obligated to. Can also introduce disease into the relationship and cause harm in other ways. A stable relationship of course being better for the upbringing of children which is also better for the society as a whole.

fornication-if this is anal or oral then they are also no longer illegal those laws being struck down long ago. Partially necessary in the past due to issues of cleanliness.

bestiality-this one should be obvious, but can introduce strains of diseases into the population that they aren’t equipped to deal with. I remember this being discussed at one time as the possible reason for aids entering into the population, no idea if that idea has been destroyed or still entertained. There are however cases of people getting venereal diseases this way and passing them to their spouses as well. Also bad for the animal which may not be equipped to deal with the penetration.

obscenity- more to do with noise pollution, just as people don’t want to listen to a boom box cranked out swearing can be a major nuisance not to mention a build up to bigger trouble when it is two people swearing at each other.

Most all of these can and do have an overall negative effect that can be bad for the society through the spread of disease, the creation of medical issues or the destabilization of family units which are necessary for the overall health of the whole. For these reasons a government does have the right to regulate morality and ethics with an eye to the overall well being of the whole provided it doesn’t cause undue harm.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View GregD's profile

GregD

605 posts in 1719 days


#8 posted 705 days ago

Sawkerf -

Scalia clearly thinks that the US Constitution allows for legislating morality. I am not qualified to comment on constitutional law. But I assert that legislating morality is a bad idea and goes against the spirit of at least the Declaration of Independence. To begin with, there is no single view of morality. And how does freedom of religion work where the majority imposes its morality on everyone? There is also the idea that “limited government” is a good idea, and I propose this as one desirable limit.

Grizzman -

I respect your decision to believe in your God and to make your personal decisions according to your faith. I ask you to extend the same consideration to me – to make my personal decisions according to my faith. My beliefs are different from yours. I kinda thought “freedom of religion” was my right as a citizen of the US. If you think this discussion is inappropriate, by all means bring it to the attention of the site owners.

-- Greg D.

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GregD

605 posts in 1719 days


#9 posted 705 days ago

derosa -

Didn’t see your post while I was writing mine.

Most all of these can and do have an overall negative effect that can be bad for the society

This meets my criteria for a valid reason to make something illegal. And you seem quite comfortable legalizing those specific acts that don’t pass this test. I see no significant incompatibility between our positions.

The only thing I would quibble with is that I think we should look to our religious leaders to keep us on the straight and narrow, if indeed it is our choice to follow that path. The government should be limited, I think, to fixing potholes and keeping my pursuit of happiness from interfering inappropriately with yours.

-- Greg D.

View Sawkerf's profile

Sawkerf

1730 posts in 1651 days


#10 posted 705 days ago

Our Constitution does allow legislation of morality. The most famous case was the 19th amendment which prohibited the manufacture, transport, sale, and consumption of alcohol. It passed after a decades long movement by temperance groups which finally gathered enough support to amend the Costitution. As we all know, it failed miserably and was repealed when public sentiment shifted against it.

I agree that such attempts are wrong, but no legal system can prevent them because legal systems reflect the opinions of the majority ratrher than the opinion of a single person. We’re fortunate enough to have a core document (the Constitution) that’s written broadly enough to allow challenges to those attempts which often result in them being struck down.

-- Adversity doesn't build character...................it reveals it.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

5248 posts in 2011 days


#11 posted 704 days ago

Codifying ethics or morality is most often ineffective in a free society.
Good laws are those that attempt to prevent physical harm to a person or his property, theft, and those laws that protect human rights.
Laws that attempt to regulate other behavior are simply unsustainable and, often ignored.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View derosa's profile

derosa

1532 posts in 1419 days


#12 posted 704 days ago

The only thing I would quibble with is that I think we should look to our religious leaders to keep us on the straight and narrow, if indeed it is our choice to follow that path. The government should be limited, I think, to fixing potholes and keeping my pursuit of happiness from interfering inappropriately with yours.

Largely agree and probably only disagree over minor small points. The main issue is discovering what the societal issues can be which isn’t always the most obvious and then determining if such legislation will cause more harm then good. Making something like bestiality illegal harms very few people, it benefits animals and is better for the overall health of the society. Making homosexuality illegal harms a lot of people and since homosexuality doesn’t cause any significant harm and can actually be of benefit by creating stable family units that can adopt it is silly to legislate against. Churches can of course always make their own determination for their own denomination, and some blindly will.

Our Constitution does allow legislation of morality. The most famous case was the 19th amendment which prohibited the manufacture, transport, sale, and consumption of alcohol. It passed after a decades long movement by temperance groups which finally gathered enough support to amend the Constitution. As we all know, it failed miserably and was repealed when public sentiment shifted against it.

true but it was a valuable piece in showcasing the underlying abuses that were happening in the home by drunken husbands and fathers and helped to create and grow an atmosphere of understanding and intolerance for the abuses that has helped get us to this point. It can be a fairly fine line that the government has to walk in such legislation. Similar to our current war on drugs. Does making weed illegal create more issues then it solves, I’ve lost three friends to drunk drivers and one really mess himself up while drunk on a bicycle. Never had that issue with stoners, weed societally seems much less harmless then beer so tight regulations on both should be the methodology, beer probably where it should be and weed legalized to the same level. Same can’t be said for a lot of other drugs which would fail the harm/benefit test and therefor should remain illegal.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

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Sawkerf

1730 posts in 1651 days


#13 posted 704 days ago

Gene-
I would go so far as to say that codifying ethics or morality is always ineffective. Do our laws against murder or theft stop those acts? Can the fact that most of us don’t kill or steal, be attributed to the existance of the law or just our own sense of ethical or moral behavior? Would the rates of killing and stealing change much if those laws disappeared, or would we continue pretty much as we already are?

Your mention of “human rights” intrigues me. Can you tell me exactly what those are? Can you tell me who made the list? As the product of a judeo-christian society, I have an idea of what human rights are, but is my idea somehow better (or worse) than the ideas of someone else raised in a different society?

Grizzman-
I’m with Greg in saying that you’re free to have and express your opinions. They aren’t for me, but I won’t presume to attempt to impose my beliefs on you as long as you give me the same consideration.

Your desire to hide this discussion from children makes me wonder if you’re afraid to let them see points of view other than your own. Wouldn’t it be better if they took your position because they found it more in tune with their beliefs rather than because they never had the opportunity to hear and evaluate anything else?

-- Adversity doesn't build character...................it reveals it.

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1276 days


#14 posted 704 days ago

prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity
.
Yes, please;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3525 posts in 2317 days


#15 posted 704 days ago

While we’re at it, let’s make liquor illegal, too.
What could go wrong?

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

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