photo credit: ViaMoi

Earlier this month, the National Organization for Marriage—one of the groups who put a lot of effort into supporting Proposition 8 in California—tweeted:

“I’m personally opposed, but…..” Is @RepRonPaul willing to take a real stand for #marriage?

The quote at the beginning was a reference to a recent presidential debate, where Rep. Paul argued that states—and not the federal government—should determine what they will do about marriages. He noted that he was personally opposed to same-sex marriage, but did not see a role for the federal government in deciding one way or the other what should be done about it.

NOM wants Ron Paul to “take a real stand for marriage,” implying that increased government intervention is “a real stand” one must take if one is to support marriage as being between a man and a woman. In other words, in the eyes of NOM, if you oppose government intervention into and regulation of marriage, you effectively do not support marriage.

The underlying issue is one that pervades all political issues, for proponents of any given position often argue that if you really want to see something done, or supported, or strengthened, or defended, or rejected, then government is the solution.

This is evident in no better place than with drugs. It’s quite easy to get a person to admit that the federal government has no constitutional (and thus legitimate) authority to wage the war on drugs, or specifically, for example, to criminalize marijuana. And yet the same people so often believe that were we to decriminalize this naturally-occurring plant, we would not be (to use NOM’s argument) “taking a real stand against drugs.”

As one candidate for federal office recently wrote to me: “Though an argument could be made that [the regulation of drugs] is a state issue, I do not believe that we ought to encourage the use of any drug or substance that destroys individuals, families and weakens society.”

This tainted view of the law sees government as the sculptor of society, and that in order to uphold a certain moral code, or propagate good behavior, we must support government policies which seek to realize those goals. Peace and persuasion are abandoned and replaced with war and coercion—albeit wrapped in flowery language like “strengthening society.”

It is entirely possible to support something without clamoring for or consenting to government involvement in the issue. In fact, more often that not, that is the only moral avenue for having that something become reality. Don’t want kids smoking? Get involved in mentoring, education, and communication to persuade and influence the rising generation. Don’t want gays to marry? Teach the sanctity of marriage, serve a mission for your church, and oppose government involvement in private, contractual relationships. Don’t like pornography? Begin a positive propaganda campaign to show how disgusting and degrading it is.

The wise economist Frederic Bastiat spoke so well of this very problem:

Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.

If one opposes the criminalization of an activity, it does not therefore follow that he supports or agrees with the activity. And if one supports a certain behavior or idea, it does not therefore follow that government should intervene to compel others to act accordingly.

As it turns out, those who clamor for government intervention are rarely “taking a real stand,” for their cowardly position relies upon the collective, organized force of the state to do what they are unable or unwilling to do on their own. Those who take a real stand advocate and lead using their individual and legitimate capacity of persuasion to effect change through moral means.


Related Posts (automatically generated)

Continue reading at the original source →