Thursday, November 05, 2009

Maine's Proposition 1: Afterthoughts

A little bit more than half of the people in Maine who voted acted immorally on Tuesday (or before, when they cast absentee or early ballots). They went out and did things that any decent, moral person would condemn. They went out of their way to do unjustified harm to others - a harm that a decent and thinking person would not have caused. A harm that a decent and thinking person would condemn.

They performed these unjustified, immoral actions while they performed the act of voting. Because they did this - and because voting is a right - it would be inappropriate to do violence to those who acted immorally in this case. The voting booth happens to be one of those locations where a person can do evil without fear of physical punishment - or, at least, it should be.

The fact that those who vote are immune from (justified) punishment for their actions, that nothing they do in the voting booth is immoral. Every option that gets put on a ballot is morally permissible. So they do not think about what a good person to do - what the right thing to do may be.

Because of this, they take a moral vacation when they cast their ballots.

This is an easy position to refute. If a ballot initiative to enslave a portion of the population were to appear on the ballot, no decent, thinking person would take this to mean that slavery must therefore be morally legitimate. Because it is on the ballot anybody who votes for slavery has a moral immunity from violence with respect to how they cast their vote. Yet, there is still an option that the decent and thoughtful person would vote for. There is still an option that a voter may take that is a moral crime.

A little over fifty percent of the voters in Maine on Tuesday committed just such a moral crime – those who voted to repeal gay marriage.

Theirs was not a victimless (moral) crime either. Theirs was a crime of doing real harm to real human beings.

Ultimately, this is a case in which a group of people who set out to do real harm to real people have decided to congratulate themselves over their moral superiority over those who wish to establish stable and loving relationships with others.

There are a great many things that influenced these people to act in a harmful, unjust, and immoral way towards their fellow humans. Wherever we can find a force that inspired people to cast these votes, we find a force that inspired people to visit evil upon others. In this case, those were not institutions that promote moral virtue - they are institutions that replaced virtue with an act that can properly be described as vicious - as displaying qualities that are the moral opposite of virtues.

Institutions and organizations that inspire people to act in ways that decent and thoughtful people have reason to condemn, are institutions and organizations that decent and thoughtful people have reason to condemn. They are institutions that decent and thoughtful people have reason to wish did not exist, or at least that it continued do whatever good that organization did without tainting its goodness with these frequent immoral actions.

Decent and thoughtful people have a reason to turn on those organizations - with righteous anger for the evil that they inspire in others, and to demand that the organizations either reform, cut off, and eliminate that part of itself that inspires immorality, or that the organization be done away with entirely.

Again, the right to vote and the right to freedom of speech implies that there is no legitimate use of violence to accomplish these ends. However, there is every single right to the use of words and private actions to accomplish these ends. To publicly condemn these organizations and those who support them are perfectly legitimate activities. To look at where one's private contributions go, and the private contributions of those groups and businesses one belongs to goes to make sure that the agents of evil do not benefit are perfectly legitimate activities.

It is also within the realm of legitimate activities to praise those who, when they cast their ballots, cast the same votes that a decent and thoughtful person would have cast. This legitimacy extends to offering praise and reward to those organizations who sought to stand (non-violently) in the way of those who cast an immoral ballot.

By these acts of praise and reward on the one hand, and condemnation and punishment through private actions on the other, it is hoped that we can have an impact on the malleable desires of people in society to the degree that decency and thoughtfulness will eventually outvote harmful immorality.

At the very least, it will take us a step in that direction.


Alessa Mendes said...

Wow, I applaud you not only for your position and perspective on this issue, but the way in which you conveyed your message.


Were you also aware that the Catholic church in Maine funded the campaign? The total contribution was $550,000

atheistlove said...

i am a logic-seeking missile... atheistic monster,so 2 speak..
Your opening starts with a statement that more than half of the people in maine acted immoraly.. i am bi-, but i can see that in their minds they where acting MORALY.. albeit to their moral structure... just because YOUR moral structure dosnt mach others gives you NO RIGHT to call others out on theirs..... WOULD YOU AGREE THAT YOU SEE THEIR MORALS AS SICK AS THEY SEE YOURS?? evreyone is different.. the sooner we ALL get over that fact.. the sooner we can live in peace.

atheistlove said...

P.S i hope to see you down here for the 12-14 mar convention.. may free thought rule your mind.. not confined logic.

Anonymous said...

hey wait a minute didn't the catholic church comlain about not having money left to pay victims of child abuse ? so where does all that money come from?

Andy said...


Hitler acted morally in his mind, does that mean we can't condemn him?