Clifton Healy has this to say to those who oppose legislating morality:
The law is not mere convention--though clearly there are conventional aspects to the law. The law is much more powerful than that, as Plato, Aristotle and many important thinkers have recognized throughout history. No, in point of fact, the law is a paedegogus, a tutor, instructing us in morality, inculcating in us notions of right and wrong, virtue and vice.
So the current understanding in the U. S. of the separation of Church and State is both philosophically unsound, and, ultimately, unworkable. And as the culture wars continue to flame, this is becoming more and more obvious.
The idea that it isn't necessarily sinful to legalize grave sin has a long and impressive pedigree in Catholic thought. Augustine, for example, thought that prostitution should be legal, despite being a grave evil, because trying to suppress it would only make things worse. Aquinas agreed.
Though this is rarely brought up, every law harms somebody. It costs the taxpayers money, it endangers police, and of course it harms those who break the law or who are falsely convicted of breaking it. We just tend not to notice this until the cost of illegality becomes extremely high, such as was the case with prostitution in the Middle Ages or with drugs and abortion in the modern era. And when you criminalize something that a large minority of the population thinks is OK, it's less a normal legislative act than a declaration of civil war using police as soldiers. Think of Prohibition, for instance.
Clearly Josiah, and probably Clifton, believe abortion is a grave enough evil that they are willing to pay a very high price to stop it. But while I agree that a lot of pro-choice arguments are lame, I think any plan to criminalize it has to deal with the possibility that it would be Prohibition Redux. The law is a teacher, but teachers don't normally pull a gun on you if you don't turn in your homework.Posted by Camassia at July 08, 2004 03:50 PM | TrackBack