Monday, August 16, 1999

Week of 08/16/1999

Target: Moralism
The Last Great Evil In America

- by David Matthews 2

Los Angles, California - Buford Furrow is arrested and charged with the murder of a mailman and the shooting of a Jewish day care center in a move that FBI officials say was "a wake-up call for Americans to kill Jews."

Topeka, Kansas - The Kansas Board of Education voted to remove the theory of evolution from the state’s science curriculum. The decision opens the door for local school boards to re-introduce the Judeo-Christian creationist theory in schools.

Atlanta, Georgia - The Georgia State Board of Education holds hearings to decide whether or not to allow Bible study classes in the state’s schools, even though such a decision would fly in the face of the notion of separation of church and state.

McKee, Kentucky - Jackson County school officials allowed the posting of the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments in every classroom, even though the US Supreme Court ruled in 1980 that doing so would be a blatant violation of the separation of church and state.

Detroit, Michigan - Timothy Boomer was convicted on June 11th of violating the state’s 102-year old law that prohibits one from using "indecent, immoral, obscene, vulgar, or insulting language in the presence or hearing of any .. child." Boomer was convicted of loudly cursing after falling from his canoe on the Rifle River. The arresting officer said that the language was loud, prolonged, and abusive, even though several of the witnesses said Boomer cursed only mildly and that they did not think it was inappropriate to the situation. An appeal was immediately filed.

The above incidents are recent examples of what could be considered the greatest threat to freedom and liberty in America - moralism.

Brutally Honest readers have heard a lot about moralism and moralists, but never have we really looked at what is moralism, and why it is such a danger to freedom.

First of all, let’s go over what moralism is because too many people equate moralism with morality. Simply having morals does not make one a moralist, any more than simply being male would make one a sexist, or being white would make one a bigot.

Morals are personal, individual rules we set ourselves. They determine how we are going to live our lives. We develop our morals from a variety of sources, but most predominantly from our parents and our friends.

Moralism, then, is a form of discrimination, much like racism and sexism are forms of discrimination. Much like racism is the belief that a particular race of humans are superior over all others; and sexism is the belief that one gender is superior over the other; moralism is the belief that one’s morals are superior over all others. And not just superior.. but in most instances, absolute and without question.

Moralism operates out of pure arrogance. The arrogance of believing your personal morality is universal is very strong, and very seductive. We all consider ourselves to be the protagonist in our own life stories. We always believe ourselves to be in the right, and only think about our actions or stances as being wrong afterwards. Add to that having a few other people who think like you do, and it’s easy to fall down the path of moralism.

Moralism also operates out of mental insecurity. It’s not enough to simply believe something is right or wrong, or to have friends and family members who believe the same thing. They need to have everything around them reflect their beliefs. They need to be able to drive down the street and have it reflect their beliefs. They need to turn on the television set and have programming that reflect what they believe to be right. They need to turn on the radio and listen to music that they approve of, or go to the record store and see music that they would approve of. They need to have every aspect of the world validate their beliefs, because to do so otherwise might make them doubt the validity of what they believe in.

Nothing is more infuriating to the moralist than to see or hear about something that is different than what they perceive the world should be. Look at all the so-called "family values" crusaders out there, railing about at the world because its not what they deem to be "safe" for children. Despite their insistence that this is a "recent" phenomenon, the cold, hard truth is that there have been so-called "family values" crusaders for centuries now! The only thing that has changed are the names of the moralists. Yesterday’s Thomas Bowlder, who rallied against the works of William Shakespeare back in 1818, is today’s Pat Robertson, who rallies against the evils of Marilyn Manson. Neither have made the world any safer for children, but certainly have made their respective communities less freer because of their dysfunction.

And yes, moralism is a destructive form of dysfunction, because instead of concerning themselves with their own lives and that of their children, moralists wrap themselves around the concerns of other people. They pretend to themselves and to everyone else that what they are doing is for the sake of society, and they presume to speak on behalf of everyone else, but in reality all they are doing is speaking for themselves, and acting only on their own best interests.

That is what drives moralists to government, because as individuals, moralists can only do so much. But with the force of government, moralists can spread their devastation to all stretches of land, with very little risk to themselves. It’s a win-win situation for moralists when they get government to do their bidding, because there is no way it can really come back to hurt them.

There is a saying that one cannot legislate morality, and that is in part true. One cannot legislate what another person deems to be their personal values. However, one can legislate moralism, and that has been going on for countless centuries.

Let’s get brutally honest here… The assumption that all laws are moral laws is simply pure arrogance. The state laws against speeding are not written because of some morals code, rather it comes from some bureaucracy determining how fast someone can drive on that road without getting into an accident. The same goes for helmet laws for motorcycles, and for laws pertaining to the financial markets.

Some laws and regulations are written not for safety or concern for the well-being of others, but to maintain power. The laws governing cable television are the best example of the notion of maintaining power. In the 1980’s, Congress and the Reagan Administration enacted laws that prohibited satellite companies to broadcast local network stations. The rules weren’t designed to enforce some morals code, but rather because the cable companies did not want competition. The cable companies were a government-condoned monopoly, and in many cases they still are today.

But moralist laws are by far the worst kinds of laws, because moralists would dare to presume to know what’s best for others. Many of the so-called "blue" laws written by moralists years, even centuries ago, are still in affect today. Timothy Boomer certainly knows that all too well, having been convicted of a law passed over a hundred years ago.

Think about the laws against having business conducted on Sundays. Why Sunday, you ask? There is no health or safety reasons behind it. Civilization wouldn’t go into complete chaos if a store opened up on Sunday. So why, you ask, were there laws against doing business on Sunday? Why not Friday? Or Monday? Two reasons - first because the 10 Commandments states one should keep the Sabbath holy; and second because ministers wanted people to have no reason to not skip their services! Mind you, if America was colonized by Jewish people instead of Christians, we’d have laws against doing business on Saturdays. But really, there is no basis for such a law except to appease the whims of moralists.

What’s worse is when a moralist goes to extremes to appease their intellectual dysfunction. When legislation does not move fast enough, or its reach isn’t effective enough, some moralists feel it is up to them to take matters into their own hands. Buford Furrow took his anti-Semitic stance to extreme when he opened fire in a Los Angles Jewish day care center, and then killed a postal worker simply because he was "non-white." In Florida, Paul Hill is sitting on death row because he deliberately and methodically killed a doctor who performed abortions. Eric Robert Rudolph is wanted by the law because his moralistic stance reportedly led him to bomb abortion clinics, a gay nightclub, and Centennial Park during the 1996 Olympic games.

Folks, this is why moralism is so dangerous for any society that claims to cherish freedom. The presumption that not every adult individual is capable of determining what is right and wrong for themselves is elitist at best, and downright tyrannical at worst.

You know, there’s nothing wrong with having doubts about what you believe to be right and wrong. In fact, that’s the only way to make such moral beliefs stronger. It’s easy to say X is right because some document or some ancient scroll says so. It’s yet another thing to say X is right because YOU believe it to be so, and to have reasons all your own to validate them. Look at how some of the most moral of people lived. Mother Theresa didn’t have to work in Calcutta, yet she did because of what she did strengthened her moral resolve. Is your moral resolve so fragile that it cannot handle the diverse beliefs of others?

If we really cherish freedom, we need to treat moralism just like we do sexism and racism - something to be shunned and avoided at all costs. Let’s concern ourselves less with our neighbors actions and more with our own.

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