Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How Modern Morality Leads to Tyranny (Part 2 of 2)

Men who begin to fight the Church for the sake of freedom and humanity end by flinging away freedom and humanity if only they may fight the Church.

—GK Chesterton


Before considering the last three steps, we should briefly discuss some of the principles of the thinking of the modern morality, that will explain the unjust laws that come from the proponents of modern morality.

It tends to reject the ideas of the existence of truth as independent of circumstances.  Everything is relative to times and circumstances.  It also tends to hold a view that everything progresses for the better.  Because things are generally better in a material sense, it means things are better in a moral sense.  The "oppressive past" has been replaced with a "freer" present and must continue towards an even more "free" future.

Such a view holds that even if one disagrees with certain behaviors ("personally opposed but…"), it should still be permitted "if it doesn't harm anyone."

The result of this is it tends to reject any restrictions except the "harm towards others."  The proponents will most likely object to comparisons to totalitarian policies on these grounds, because the totalitarian regimes did harm others.  The problem is, these proponents don't always recognize that harm is done to others.  They tend to think of crude Nazi tactics and think that because other "inconveniences" are not at that level, it isn't harm.

Moreover, there is also a tendency to think that certain views are "oppressive" and people who think in such a way should not be protected when it comes to those views.

The problem is, there is a contradiction in all of these views.  If one should tolerate other views, then it follows that it should be applied to views they disagree with as well as views they agree with.  The person who believes there are moral absolutes ought to be tolerated without harassment.  Instead, because their views are called "oppressive" it is acceptable to deny protection under the law.  This is the contradiction that creates tyranny in a free society.

With this in mind, let us consider the final three steps.

The Fourth Step: Passing Laws With the Belief They Harm Nobody

Attempted murder? It's not like he killed someone. This is a clear violation of my client's civil rights.

—Slimy Lawyer, RoboCop (1987)

Once people are elected or appointed to political office, they take their belief in only opposing "harmful" things in legislation.  If they see no harm in legislation, then they tend to support it.  This is how we can see lawmakers support the HHS contraception mandate or legalized abortion.  Because the reduction of sex to pleasure is accepted as a given, the only harm they can see is the issue of unexpected pregnancy.  The result is the creation of laws which makes access to contraception and abortion easier.  It is only the challenges to this assumption that is viewed as harmful.

Under the same reduction of sex to pleasure, such politicians can see no difference between traditional marriage between a man and a woman and a "homosexual marriage" between two people of the same gender.  So laws supporting this so-called "gay marriage" are seen as good, and opposition seen as harmful.

The result of all this is to create a set of laws that claims to champion tolerance, but actually refuses to consider the input of those who think differently from the lawmaker.

The Fifth Step: Denying the Validity of Challenges to the Law

"Are you lost daddy?" I asked tenderly.
"Shut up," he explained.

—Ring Lardner, The Young Immigrants (1920).

One of the more ironic arguments made by proponents of the modern morality is the claim that those who believe in moral absolutes are "forcing their beliefs on others."  It's ironic because these proponents are in fact the ones imposing their moral beliefs.  You may notice this with their mantras.  "Reproductive Freedom" for example.  Those who believe in moral absolutes are not supposed to push their beliefs on others, but the concept of "Reproductive Freedom" is invoked as if it were a moral absolute.

Thus the HHS contraception mandate is forced on people who believe it is wrong to give any support (moral or financial) to things they find immoral.  Because the concept of "Reproductive Freedom" is considered unquestionable, no challenge will be heard.

Like Step 2, the lawmakers try to explain away or deny the harm their law may do.  First they simply deny the validity of charges their laws do cause harm.  The unborn is denied human rights (Roe v. Wade was infamous here, arguing that since the Constitution referred to born persons, it meant unborn persons had no rights – an argument from silence.)  The reduction of marriage to a legally sanctioned sexual relationship is denied as a cause of damaging the traditional family as a source of the stability of society.  Studies that challenge this are rejected as "biased."

At the same time, however, it is argued that the harm they've denied can be justified for the greater good of the moral absolutes they deny.  Thus, even if the unborn is a person, the mother's "reproductive freedom" takes priority.  Whether or not "gay marriage" disrupts society, denying persons with homosexual tendencies the "right to marry" is making them second class citizens.

The problem is, these people claim that whatever does no harm to others should be permitted, but they make themselves both the prosecutor and judge as to what causes harm to others and whether those who are harmed actually matter.  Since this eliminates the right  to "petition the Government for a redress of grievances" (First Amendment), we can see this mindset goes well on the way to causing harm and becoming a tyranny.

The Sixth Step: Restricting the Rights of the Challenger

"They [The Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa] accused us of suppressing freedom of expression. This was a lie and we could not let them publish it."

PJ O'Rourke (quoting Sandinista official), Holidays in Hell

While in the Third Step, the proponent of the modern morality gets offended with those who challenge them, in the sixth step, the politician has the power to do something about it.  Because he or she believes that the challenger is guided by "harmful" motives (under the ad hominem attacks of "Homophobic" or "war on women" etc.) the politician can make laws that reduce the freedom of the challengers to speak out. 

Consider the Catholic Church speaking out on moral issues being accused of being partisan and being under threats to have tax exempt status revoked.  The Catholic Church has remained consistent on moral issues long before there was a United States of America, let alone a Democratic or Republican Party.

For example, in 1679, the Church condemned these propositions:

34. It is permitted to bring about an abortion before the animation of the foetus, lest the girl found pregnant be killed or defamed.

35. It seems probable that every foetus (as long as it is in the womb) lacks a rational soul and begins to have the same at the time that it is born; and consequently it will have to be said that no homicide is committed in any abortion.

Various Errors on Moral Subjects (II) [Condemned in a decree of the Holy Office, March 4, 1679]

From the year 1679.  That's not a typo.  Over 333 years ago, the Catholic Church condemned views being used today to justify abortion on the grounds that the unborn is not alive.

Moreover, in 1965 (8 years before the infamous Roe v. Wade), the Catholic Church condemned abortion in the Vatican II document Gaudium et spes:

For God, the Lord of life, has conferred on men the surpassing ministry of safeguarding life in a manner which is worthy of man. Therefore from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes. (#51)

To argue that the Catholic Church is behaving in a political manner in speaking against the same sins they condemned before such issues were political indicates a really dangerous situation: That a government may decide what sort of speech is politically motivated or not politically motivated and may coerce the Church from speaking on subjects it deems "political."

Under such conditions, the Church cannot be said to have freedom of religion if her teaching of all people can be labeled "hate speech" or "politically motivated" or if her beliefs may be set aside as "unimportant" when it goes against government laws.

But the Constitution explicitly states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (First Amendment.  Emphasis added).

So we can see that laws made which ignore the First Amendment are laws which support tyranny against the beliefs that the nation were founded on, that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights" (Declaration of Independence).

The Founding Fathers broke away from England because of these violations of unalienable rights, but now the lawmakers and courts can ignore these rights in favor of their own ideology.


Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except Negroes and foreigners and Catholics." When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy hypocrisy.

—Abraham Lincoln, Response to a Pro-Slavery Friend

Lincoln was prophetic here.  In the name of freedom, we are seeing the denial of basic freedoms to those who believe in moral absolutes and the obligation to live rightly.  Our Church can be coerced.  People who live in accordance with her teachings can be sued for refusing to provide services they feel they would be doing evil to provide.

To defend ourselves against this injustice, we have to ask people of good will to consider the harm that is done when people with this mindset get elected.

Considering the belief that society inevitably improves over time, unless people with an opposing view are elected, it is something that invites injustice in the name of this progress.  The views which threaten what is seen as progress must be stopped by any means necessary.

The problem with this assumption is not all perceived progress is progress.  People of this generation might be surprised, but there was a time when democratic processes were considered outdated relics and it was fascism which was the way to progress.  As we have seen in history, this view of fascism was premature and did not reflect reality.  Indeed, the practitioners of fascism had few brakes to prevent bad ideas that were seen as beneficial by the fascists.

The view today of no moral absolutes is the same.  If there are no moral absolutes, and the progress of society is seen as advances and declines solely on whether it moves towards or against a certain ideology, then there are very few restrictions against those politicians who feel threatened by challenges to their "defense of progress."

It is no hyperbole to say that this mindset, turned into law by politicians are heading into tyranny as the Founding Fathers understood it:

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. (Declaration of Independence)

The question is what we are to do about it?

It may sound partisan, but quite simply, we need to consider this sort of mindset as one which disqualifies a person for government office.  A politician who believes that there are no moral absolutes and believes it is his views that must be followed to bring progress to the nation is more likely to push through laws they see as right without considering other perspectives.

A Politician who will not see harm done or seeks to explain harm away cannot be trusted to hear the grievances of those wronged and give redress.  The Politician who believes their opponents are obstacles is more likely to restrict people who disagree than people who believe there are moral absolutes which forbid them from doing wrong in the name of a cause.

In short, we need to elect men and women of character, who recognize that the government has no authority to mandate things beyond them.  When Obama was asked, "At what point does a baby get human rights in your view" (8/18/08), he replied:

"Well, I think that you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective. Answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade. But let me just speak more generally about the issue of abortion, because this is something that obviously the country wrestles with. "

That kind of answer should be a disqualification to the voter of good will.  A politician who cannot answer the question on when a baby has human rights – and prove the truth of his answer should not be making a decision that abortion should be permitted.  We need to elect and appoint men and women who know they are limited and prone to evil and must answer to a morality above and beyond them. 

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