Arkansas recently passed some of the most life-affirming legislation in the country by banning abortions anytime after the baby's heartbeat can be heard, and/or after 12 weeks. Good for Arkansas.
Of course, the pro-death crowd couldn't wait to rally and protest. And in the midst of the chaos, the old mantra was heard again: "You can't legislate morality." People somehow think this is a trump card in any debate, but they are obviously not intelligent enough to understand either legislation or morality. Because the truth is, our legislation process in general comes from a moral basis. For example, it's immoral to kill, and so it's outlawed, etc.
What's really ironic/idiotic is that this rally comes on the front end of the week in which the Supreme Court will take up the discussion of Gay Marriage. Interestingly, these pro-death folks who yell about legislating morality are often the same ones crying out for the Supreme Court to do just that, and tell us what is moral or not in terms of marriage; forcing an acceptance of homosexuality on us whether we want it or not. So which is it? Do you want to legislate morality or not?
I think in the background what they mean is, you can't make laws that force me to accept certain moral values. But again, the paradox here. They don't want laws that "force" them not to kill innocent children, which they see as morally acceptable; but they don't mind "forcing" the rest of us to accept aberrant homosexual behavior as normal by "forcing" us to recognize gay unions as marriage.
So, what it boils down to is this. People want to say "you can't legislate morality" only in terms of those things which disagree with my own wants and desires. We want the government involved in things when it's to our advantage, but not our disadvantage. And I know what you're thinking: "Don't you do the same thing, affirming the Arkansas decision while hoping the Supreme Court comes down on your side as well?" Well, not exactly.
You see, I'm not the one saying you can't legislate morality. I think society can and should legislate morality. Morality, by definition, is simply "Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior." In essence, that's what all of our laws are; defining right and wrong, good and bad behavior. Running stop sign: bad; not allowed by law. Stealing from store: bad; not allowed by law. Killing innocent children: bad; should not be allowed by law. Violating laws of God, biology and nature in gay marriage: bad; should not be allowed by law.
Now, I realize that not everyone is going to agree on right/wrong, good/bad. That's why we have elections, and legislative processes, etc. Of course, in the case of the Supreme Court's discussions this week the case could be made that the judicial branch has no business overturning laws created by the people and the legislature, but that's a whole other blog post.
The point here is simply this: "You can't legislate morality" is a foolish lie. It's not the trump card argument pro-death folks think it is in their rallies. Governments have always legislated right and wrong behavior, and will/should continue to do so. Our hope is simply that as a society we retain enough common sense and high standards that the right and wrong we legislate doesn't end up dragging society as a whole into the gutter.