"Mistrust those in whom the urge to punish is strong." Friedrich Nietzche

"Any and all non-violent, non-coercive, non-larcenous, consensual adult behavior that does not physically harm other people or their property or directly and immediately endangers same, that does not disturb the peace or create a public nuisance, and that is done in private, especially on private property, is the inalienable right of all adults. In a truly free and liberty-loving society, ruled by a secular government, no laws should be passed to prohibit such behavior. Any laws now existing that are contrary to the above definition of inalienable rights are violations of the rights of adults and should be made null and void." D. M. Mitchell (from The Myth of Inalienable Rights, at: http://dowehaverights.blogspot.com/)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Crime Versus Sin: The Lesson for Today

Crimes fall into the secular realm of social behavior. Sins are purely religious in origin. However, some sins are crimes also.

Generally speaking, sins that are not crimes are behaviors that some people find to be immoral and wrong, but which do not violate the rights of others, nor do they immediately and directly threaten the rights of others. Crimes, from a purely secular point of view, are those behaviors that violate or threaten to violate the rights of others. While some crimes are also considered to be sins by the religious among us--murder, rape, child molesting, stealing, etc.--they fall squarely into the secular sphere of social responsibility since they are rights-violating behaviors.

Making rights-violating behavior unlawful is a social good in a truly free and liberty-loving society. Making sins unlawful (and we have many such sin-laws) is, in itself, criminal in nature and a social harm in a society that purports to uphold individual liberty and inalienable rights. Such sin-laws, or morality laws, violate the rights of otherwise honest, peaceful, adults. And I do stress adults here. Minors, even those close to adulthood, do not have full adult rights to the use and control of their own bodies and minds. This has been true throughout all of time from the most primitive to the most sophisticated of societies.

If you find a person's behavior to be immoral and wrong, but it does not violate or threaten to violate the rights of others, that behavior is sinful, but it is not a crime. It should be the right of that adult to so behave if we actually do have inalienable rights.

To support the morality laws that violate the rights of otherwise honest and peaceful citizens is to be part of a great criminal conspiracy that is only justified by the evil associated with a purist's notion of democracy. As Thomas Jefferson said, "[a] democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine." An example of a pure democracy is two wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

The Founding Fathers of this once great nation gave us a limited democratic republic. We have managed to destroy it and now have a multitude of local, state, and national laws that actually violate rights rather than protect them. This has been done in the name of protecting the moral standards of the citizens. However, that is rather like making all people subject to the religious laws of a particular church, even though many of those forced to obey those laws do not belong to that church nor support its dogma. That seems, logically, to be a violation of the "establishment" clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

No one forces a person to gamble, to surf the "web" for porn, to drink, or to use some other mind altering substances, among other things. Of course, you should expect the arrest and punishment of anyone who targets your minor children for those behaviors. However, once your minor children are no longer minors, once they are adults, they have the right, just like you, to decide for themselves, whether for good or bad, what behaviors they will accept and participate in. If that is not true then there is no such thing as true personal liberty and inalienable rights.

If you were a good parent, one who taught by example how to live a proper moral life, then even if your young adult children stray for a while they will, more likely than not, return to the beliefs you instilled in them when they were young. Besides, all the religious beliefs made into secular laws, to be enforced by the secular government, will not and does not stop people from behaving in ways that others believe to be immoral. Further, it is not the secular government's legitimate job, by passing and enforcing the sin laws, to force the religious and personal moral beliefs of some people on the "non-believing" population.

There is also the issue of hypocrisy. I will give you one cogent example of what I am talking about. Smoking marijuana is considered by some to be a sin. The mere use of marijuana--by an adult--violates no one's rights. Many religious people and groups condemn the use of marijuana by adults and condone the laws prohibiting this substance thereby making criminals of those who grow, sell, and use it. Smoking marijuana has been made a crime by proclamation: We believe marijuana use is immoral, therefore we have made it illegal. There is almost no real criminal behavior associated with the use of marijuana. What real criminal behavior that is associated with marijuana has been caused by the religious laws prohibiting its use. At the same time, many religious people condone the use of alcohol, yet the mere use of alcohol is associated with the majority of all violent crimes. That is not just my opinion. It has been proven in study after study.

Therefore, we have the obscene hypocrisy of religious people condemning the rights of honest, non-violent pot smokers while condoning the use of the known violence-causing drug alcohol. If these people—and among them are preachers, politicians, policemen, presidents, prosecutors, and judges—want to stop being hypocritical they need to pass laws prohibiting the use of alcohol. But of course that was tried once and was a disaster (as is the present war on drugs). Another alternative to ending their hypocrisy would be to repeal the religious-based laws that have nothing to do with real, rights-violating, criminal behavior. That would be the right and logical thing to do but not likely to happen, I admit.

The way the laws are now my neighbor believes that he or she has the right to dictate my personal moral behavior where such behavior does not harm, or immediately and directly threaten to harm, the persons or property of others. If my neighbor knows or suspects that I am growing or using marijuana, or using any  of the other presently illegal drugs, all she or he has to do it pick up the phone and call the police. In today's anti-rightist environment, I would soon join the growing number of felons and ex-felons, estimated to be in the millions today, yet I would have violated no one's rights. How can that be legal under a secular government?

Let the churches preach against religiously immoral behavior if they want to, but let God punish the transgressors in God's own time. Let the secular authorities only punish people for any purely secular, rights-violating behavior that they may be guilty of. The meaning of to govern is to control. How much control by the secular authorities does a person need if his or her behavior is non-violent, non-coercive, non-larcenous, done alone or with other consenting adults; that does not physically harm other people or their property or is not a direct and immediate threat to other people or their property; that does not disturb the peace or create a public nuisance? Such behavior is truly the essence of our inalienable rights under a truly secular government.

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