Raging Right Wing Republican

For those of us who are politically informed, and therefore Republican.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rush Limbaugh on legislating morality

How many times have we heard the hackneyed slogan, "You can't legislate morality"? Liberals have twisted the intended meaning of this phrase to suit their purposes. It has been misused so often that the incorrect meaning is now accepted as the norm. The phrase was initially adopted by conservatives of the sixties, such as Barry Goldwater, to describe the reality that peoples' attitudes, prejudices, character, and integrity cannot be altered by well-meaning legislation. For example, this society can and did outlaw discrimination based on race, etc., with the civil-rights laws of the sixties — and fortified those laws with remedial enforcement mechanisms. Although the law did and does prevent acts of discrimination (and this is good law), it does not change the hearts of the people. Though we have less racial discrimination, we don't have one less racist as a result of these laws.

The feel-good generation of the me-first liberals co-opted the phrase and use it as a credo to legitimize their advocacy of unlimited freedom without responsibility. Thus, when arguing in favor of abortion on demand, for instance, they chant reflexively, "You can't legislate morality."

Mere superficial analysis reveals the folly of their reasoning. Of course, society can, and it is morally imperative that it does, legislate morality — if by that it means that the law proscribes certain immoral behavior. In fact, that's what our entire system of criminal law is — the codification of societal restrictions on human behavior that is accepted as being immoral. Our traditional criminal laws prohibiting murder, and other violent acts against persons or property, for example, are laws prohibiting certain acts coupled with criminal intent. These laws do not seek to change the personal morality of those who violate them; rather, they seek to prevent the proscribed acts and to punish actors for their wrongs. Interestingly, it has only been liberals through the years who have sought to use the criminal justice system for the purpose of rehabilitating the wrongdoers. So don't fall for this notion that society cannot enforce moral codes because of the misunderstood slogan, "You can't legislate morality."

(Rush Limbaugh, See, I Told You So [POCKET BOOKS, 1993], 85-86)

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