Monday, May 11, 2009

The Law

Why should something be made illegal? Think about that one for a sec. Come back when you're ready.

Why are things made illegal?

I was blown away when I recently discovered that I did not have an answer for this question. How in the world can we make laws or vote for people who make laws if we can't answer this question? While I won't (can't) quite answer which method is correct, I have discovered some traditional answers. I believe there are two commonly-held views.

Social liberals - "Something should be illegal if and only if it violates the rights of others."

Social conservatives - "Something should be illegal if it is immoral (by some standard)."

Take a moment and think about all of our current social issues (i.e. abortion, homosexual marriage, drug legalization, censorship). Do these definitions seem to fit? (BTW: Advocating gun rights is a socially liberal position.)

For example, social liberals are confused as to why anyone would want to prevent homosexuals from being married, because them doing so in no way violates the rights of other people. Social conservatives don't buy that argument because to them it is an issue of morality.

Also, things like (even consensual) homosexual acts and interracial marriage used to be illegal in this country because they were immoral in the opinions of many. However, the argument that they didn't inherently violate the rights of someone else (and that the law did) eventually won out.

So which position is correct? Which position is our Constitution designed to support?

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