Allow me to preface my first diary entry with a confession. As a younger man I was most certainly “liberal” and “progressive”. I applauded Roe versus Wade and viewed William O. Douglas as my favorite Supreme Court justice. At the same time, I felt fervently anti-communist and could not for the life of me understand anyone’s belief that Che Guevara was admirable in any way, shape or form. I also recall feeling very disturbed at a debate on abortion, as I felt protective of the unborn and yet had most of the women at my university emphatically informing me that as a male I was not entitled to an opinion, one way or the other, since it was their bodies, their selves.
I recall entering law school and feeling incredible contradiction in the tenets of criminal defense. At one point, I had a criminal defense attorney inform me gleefully that their defendant had gotten cleared of a rape charge because the mentally-impaired victim incorrectly recalled with what she had been bound during her ordeal. That single discussion completely ended any desire to practice law in the context of “professional ethics”.
This particular country, my country, was founded on the principle that the state was subservient to the individual. We espoused a moral foundation. In college, I listened to countless lectures where morality was described as ignorant and obsolete while ethics was touted as the sole standard by which our society should live. The term “ethics” began to creep into every debate and I noticed in the larger social context we started to have organizations form such as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Many of us do not grasp how important the concept of property rights is in the eyes of foreigners. People who have fled the “isms” of the world have come here to avoid that fate for themselves and their families. They are incredulous as to the ability of the common man to address his grievances and have them be heard by a court of law. Property rights based on ethics can be easily subverted by the State, but moral rights in property cannot.
Hubris, arrogance and corruption in government are eternal. Wise citizens restrain and constrain the power of their leaders for these reasons. A politician will often rail against “faith” while demanding it of their supporters. And I am watching at the moment while many in our society place greater faith in politicians than a higher power.
There is much upon which to comment, but I recently read a post by Erick, I believe, about the One Rule at RedState. I believe that abortion is a perfect illustration of the modern ethical corruption of morality, and is a shining example of our precarious path. We appear to have lost our way.
The value of life is priceless. We take a life when someone exercises their free will to make a bad choice. This is a fulcrum of the Death Penalty debate. There are those who believe we should not kill anyone, those who believe we should not kill because of the risk of mistake, and those who believe we should kill under proper circumstances, whatever they might be.
In terms of the Death Penalty, there are very few people who would assert that for a crime someone must be punished and it does not matter who. This is also true in war: very few people condone the murder of non-combatants. It happens, but there are very few defenders of the practice, outside of necessity.
Somehow we removed morality from the arena of abortion and replaced it with ethics. We gave ownership to the government, the doctor and the mother and removed power from the child. The context of Roe versus Wade was a felony prosecution for administering an abortion. On that basis, seven Justices sided not only with the individual against the State, but against the unborn. We reduced a child to a set of chemicals with no more value than the sum of those chemicals. We took away their voice on an ethical basis and vested in a physician (e.g. – Kermit Gosnell) the power to determine when life exists.
I truly believe that many of those who celebrate Roe versus Wade do so by not thinking about the implication at all. Instead, they think about their own free will and the freedom to do as they please without interference. I don’t think a single advocate would profess support for a statute that allowed a doctor to terminate your life if they thought you were too much of a burden on society. Oh, I apologize, we do in fact have such a paradigm in place.
The key distinction between a moral and an ethical compass in the context of free will is this: morality dictates that I follow my faith and protect the unborn because I believe that they are a miracle and life is greater than my own understanding of it. An ethical compass first asks whether there is a “scientific understanding” (Thomas Kuhn makes for excellent reading in this regard) and some type of societal rule and then, in the absence of one, allows for any choice. An ethical statement would be to love thy Sister because we have birth control and abortion available in case of genetic side-effect. A moral statement would be not to love thy Sister because it is wrong. That leads naturally to a discussion about other topics, but I will leave that for another time.
Ethical rules allow a President to receive fellatio and prevaricate because it is a private matter. Morality demands that a role model resign if they fail in their role. If we continue to replace morality with ethics, I fear we will be lost.