Home
Loading
  Contact Us    
Social Morality, Political Immorality

Why is the governmental use of force less offensive than bad manners?

by James Leroy Wilson
January 14, 2010

Bookmark and Share
Social Morality, Political Immorality

Al: "I am allowed to cut hair for free. Therefore, I should be able to cut hair for money. Therefore, I will, in my kitchen, and I'm going to charge less than anyone else."

Bob: "I think barbers who charge money should be licensed, and I think there should be regulations so that your shop meets standards."

Al: "As long as my customers are satisfied, who's harmed? You're a jackass."


In the conversation above, who's the bad guy?

On the face of it, Al is. He was insulting. He was probably unnecessarily rude.

On the other hand, Bob's insult was greater. He insinuated that Bob can't be trusted and that Bob's liberties should be curbed.

That doesn't seem very nice to me!

But Bob's insult wasn't personal. He wasn't insinuating that Al personally can't be trusted. He was, instead, insinuating everyone who charges money for services can't be trusted and must be regulated. In Bob's world, those who charge money should be treated with suspicion and are guilty until proven innocent, while those who live off the taxpayer can be trusted to curb our liberties and regulate us wisely.

Bob's version of the public good relies on the policeman's gun rather than on voluntary exchange. And the governing class is presumed to be more virtuous than the productive class. In Bob's view, Well-Meaning People Can Have A Civil Dialogue And Honest Disagreement. For himself and his position to be dismissed with the word "jackass" is insulting and hurtful to him. He doesn't realize that his own position is insulting and hurtful to the entire human race.

Having said this, I'm not suggesting that insults should replace civil debate. Instead, I just find it interesting how we separate our political morality from our social morality - Al's mere rudeness should be condemned, whereas Bob's authoritarian opinions should be respected - as if all political opinions are equal and would produce equal results. But in the long run, I much prefer to live in Al's world of voluntary exchanges rather than Bob's world of coercion. At the same time, a world where people call each other "jackass" or worse is not appealing either. Many look at the breach in social morality - such as manners - as a worse offense than holding the wrong political opinions. Even when, all told, wrong political opinions do far more damage.

The fall of Tiger Woods is an example of this. For his breach of the social morality regarding sexual fidelity, he has paid a far worse hit to his reputation than just about any politician hit with a sex scandal - at least since Gary Hart. And yet, his behavior was mainly hurtful to his own family. Politicians who start wars, impose taxes and regulations that throw people out of work, criminalize victimless behavior, and impose restrictions and surveillance on us seem guilty of far worse than adultery. Yet, even the worst adulterers among politicians are viewed as "elder statesmen" when they get older.

The condemnation of Mark McGwire is another example. He's not resented for using steroids, or even for lying. He's resented for not giving due respect. Matt Welch points out:

I can't shake the suspicion that there is some outrage-premium applied not to jackass ballplayers who lie to the public, but to jackass ballplayers who, when called to make the perp walk on C-SPAN in front of the people who make the laws they might have broken, understandably (if embarrassingly) clam up.

The sin of A-Rod was lying to the public about steroids. Winning a World Series redeems him. The sin of McGwire was not steroid use, and was not even in lying; his "sin" was in essence to defy Congress.

Personally, I find McGwire's refusal to incriminate himself admirable. Even more so considering the Committee who was holding the hearing he testified in. The Committee investigating steroids in baseball wasn't a Health Committee, or a Commerce Committee, it was a Government Reform Committee.

Government Reform Committee? Investigating steroids in Major League Baseball?

In the same year when contractors were looting billions tax dollars in a failing war on Iraq?

It would seem calling members of that Government Reform Committee "jackasses" wouldn't be have been rude, but rather too polite!

But no, name-calling is unacceptable, whereas Iraq - well, people can have an honest disagreement about that.

Likewise, the conventional wisdom, the "social morality" is that McGwire was wrong for not answering the questions of a Congressional Committee. The social morality tells us to respect institutions such as Congress.

I do understand public anger towards McGwire and Tiger. I understand why people such as Al in the above conversation are disliked. The fact that a Social Morality preserving respect, fidelity, and manners still exists is an encouraging sign for civilization.

Still, condemnation toward people who do no harm to the person and property of others, while giving respect and honor to politicians committed to Political Immorality of doing harm, seems off-kilter. Let's embrace the true morality that affirms the rights and freedoms of each individual, resist those who would violate them, and be less judgmental about other people's peaceful behavior.

 

 

(0 Comments)
Post a Comment

Send Us Your Opinion
(Comments are moderated.)
Your Name:*


Your E-Mail Address:*
(Confidential. Will not be published.)


Location:


Comments:*
Note: In order to control automated spam submissions, URLs are no longer permitted in this form.



Verification:
Please type the letters you see above.

  Printer-Friendly

Bookmark and Share

» jim102670@yahoo.com


PO BOOKS BY JAMES LEROY WILSON
Ron Paul Is a Nut (and So Am I)
Published September 10, 2008

Forget about red states and blue states. Wilson's unique take on political topics is refreshingly not politics as usual.

» Buy Now
» More Information
RSS FEED
RSS Feed for James Leroy Wilson: RSS Feed for James Leroy Wilson
EMAIL ALERTS
Sign up to receive an e-mail notice when new articles by this author are published. Your address remains confidential, and you may cancel at any time. A confirmation email will be sent.

Your e-mail address:
po Books
Now Available!

Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke,
by Hal Evan Caplan.

A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.

More Information.

More by James Leroy Wilson
47 for 46 for 45
My favorite movies since when I was born
by James Leroy Wilson, 3/15/16
Hired Gun Quarterbacks
They rarely win the Super Bowl.
by James Leroy Wilson, 2/9/16
Fixing Football's Overtime
Get rid of the coin toss!
by James Leroy Wilson, 1/19/16
Solving the NBA's Conference Imbalance
Get rid of them!
by James Leroy Wilson, 5/26/15
The Problem of School
We develop differently, but arbitrary age rules punish us.
by James Leroy Wilson, 5/19/15
Deflating and defaming Tom Brady
Punishing without evidence
by James Leroy Wilson, 5/12/15
Should Floyd Mayweather be allowed to fight?
The Nevada Athletic Commission is wrong, but not for the reason you think.
by James Leroy Wilson, 4/28/15
» Complete List (565)


RSS FEED
RSS Feed for James Leroy Wilson: RSS Feed for James Leroy Wilson

Recently Published
View Article Saluting Puget Sound Honor Flights
Pledging allegiance to our Veterans
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 11/8/19
The Tale of the Flameless Taper
An All-Saints Day Reminder
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 11/1/19
Sharing Love, Giving Hope
A tribute to pastors for Clergy Appreciation Month
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 10/25/19
On the Street Where We Lived
Celebrating Sesame Street's 50th birthday
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 10/18/19
By George, Would Jesus?
How would the rabbi from Nazareth relate to Ellen DeGeneres?
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 10/10/19
An Ambert Alert
How Amber Guyger was alerted to God's grace
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 10/4/19
Up in Smoke
Vaping and pot are taking a toll
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 9/27/19

Get the Partial Observer's
'recently published' headlines via RSS.


RSS Feed for Recently Published PO Articles    What is RSS?
Reproduction of original material from The Partial Observer without written permission is strictly prohibited.
The opinions expressed by site contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the editors.
Copyright ©2000-2019 partialobserver.com. All rights reserved.
Home · Site Map · Top