I don’t believe legislation is the fix for everything, but I think it can help. Specifically, when we are talking about the current beloved topic of “legislating morality.” And this isn’t simple to me – I have struggled a lot with the abortion topic over the years. So setting that one aside (It’ll have to be another post someday), I want to talk about why I support some “morality legislation.”
Ok, so first off, that is such a bullshit term in my opinion. 200 years ago, we thought putting out a child to die in the woods was an understandable if tragic choice people had to make. 100 years ago cutting off a limb to save a life was entirely “normal and acceptable” (again, tragic). Today society allows black people to get shot when buying a candy bar. Can we agree that it’s tragic at least??? (Do we really have to ask people to find death tragic?)
As society, we agree “murder” is wrong. Premeditated killings are “wrong.” That is actually morality. By that logic, the death penalty IS murder, but a society we allow THAT murder. So even is something as “simple” as murder we have exceptions. We give different definitions of killing someone like “self-defense” and “manslaughter” when it isn’t premeditated and depending on other factors as a society (all expressed through legislation) we have a variety of reprieves and punishments we think “are right” for those acts.
So when we have a segment of the population that, for one reason or another, just CAN’T seem to figure out how not to murder other people; we legislate the morality for the “good of all.” And yes, it is a very slippery slope. This could very easily turn into applying [my] morality on people (my here being whoever is writing the law). And in fact, that does happen. Just look at the various definitions of what constitutes rape across various states/jurisdictions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_regarding_rape
So they might need to be revised after being written as we continue to evolve and learn. I accept that. The idea of “no means no” has transmuted into “only yes means yes” just in the past 10 years or so – and the distinction is important there. So Rule #1 is:
#1 – No law should be set in stone. Anything might need to be revised.
Can we agree that as we learn more, we revise information? I recently learned sperm don’t swim! (https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-05/uow-sca050412.php)
Ok, so if we agree that new information can change “morality” laws – what ISN’T morality? I mean, is stopping as a red light because it’s “moral?” I mean, if you take my first bit far enough – YES. Because WHY do we stop at red lights? So we don’t kill each other? And we’ve decided the morals of murder are bad. But that eventually turns in reducto ad absurdum – we also require stopping at red lights to keep traffic moving on all the streets, not just for the pushy people.
Which is a great example to lead into my 2nd rule. Pushy people; Type A; Aggressive/Assertive; etc. We all can think of someone who fits this mold (and if you can’t, it’s probably you). 1,000 years ago these are the people who became tyrannical lords (*cough* William the conqueror *cough*). Now they become tyrannical managers or just frustrated assholes.
Because, we (as a society) decided that sometimes having compassion like Mother Teresa or Ghandi or MLK Jr – it’s a good thing!
And this is important for an “enlightened” society (in my opinion). We recognize that strength of conviction and strength of arms/voice are not the same thing. Which is what drives Trump crazy because he can’t understand why his strong-arming doesn’t win him the kind of acclaim that MLK Jr got (much less Obama). We have decided to recognize a value in smart and not just strong (overall, obviously some people still like “strong” over “smart”).
So I would argue this is rule #2:
#2 – Give as much value to the words spoken softly as those yelled from the rooftops.
This very much also comes from my personal belief and I will own it – I’ve written before about the tattoo I want. That very strongly informs me that those who are “weak” and “helpless” and NOT “worthless” accordingly – and in fact those of us with the strength SHOULD stop and make sure our less-strong-“neighbors” have our arms & voices to BE heard. This is the foundation of things like the #metoo, #blacklivesmatter and #whyIdidntreport – all of which are voices who have historically been beaten down, abused and ignored.
And lastly, this leads to my third rule which I think should almost be #1, but I think it needs the previous 2 to really support it:
#3 – Consider who this could hurt.
And sometimes we can’t tell. There is an intersection I drive through every day that gives me road-rage because people don’t know the difference between and merge and a turn lane…. but when it was designed the road-builders couldn’t see how people would try to subvert their GOOD plan. Whoever designed it thought people would respect things like “don’t cross a solid white line” (Citation from an attorney in GA). They don’t and it causes MASSIVE back-ups (seriously, I’m going to get a dashcam and record. The days people don’t get in the turn-lane; buttery. The days they do… log jam!) But I’m not mad the designers of the path – they never expected it to be used this way and had no idea.
And this is where the rules loop. Because we might not realize immediately the law hurts someone (stop & frisk; war on drugs; a poor definition of rape; etc.) but over time we LEARN. Admitting we screwed up, the law didn’t achieve what we intended/wanted/etc. and going back to Rule #1 – changing it. This is how we improve.
And this is where #3 also has a caveat about accepting data. Accepting the fact that there were factors you didn’t see or didn’t know about – that’s ok. And as a society, we need to give a little grace. If someone comes out and says, “You know, I’ve learned some things I didn’t know 1, 5, 10 years ago and now I think….” we should reward them. They are not “flip-flopping” – they are learning. Learning is good. Your whole life. GOOD.
Anyway, as we go into November I am going to be looking for candidates who follow my three rules:
- Admit things might need to evolve/change
- Give value to the quiet, less-heard people
- Consider who a change might impact
- Accept data that disagrees with your preconceived notions on the impact
The candidates who are willing to get anywhere NEAR this philosophy – they’ll get my vote. Because I don’t want to go backwards. I like antibiotics to prevent gangrene. I don’t want anyone to leave their child to die in the woods. I want to continue moving on to perfection.