By Tom Rhodes, 4/23/2015
America is suffering a moral collapse. This realization is leading more people to realize they are in fact Libertarians in their beliefs. Resent research shows more Americans describe themselves as libertarian than conservative or republican. It’s a moral not an ethical situation. But it’s too little too late.
Ever hear of situational morals? No you haven’t. You have undoubtedly heard of situational ethics. The reason is that morals ? ethics. Ethics are rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture. Whereas Morals are the distinction between right and wrong. Ethics are governed by professional and legal guidelines within a particular time and place Morality transcends cultural norms and time. There are moral truths, such as it is wrong to murder, it is wrong to steal from another, etc.
Lying is a prime example of situation ethics. It is not considered unethical for law enforcement to lie, nor is there a legal constraint saying law enforcement officers can’t lie to you. However it is unethical and illegal for you to lie to a law enforcement officer. Morally lying is wrong. St. Augustine wrote the first extensive treatise on lying (De Mendacio). In it he cites the case of a holy bishop, Firmus of Thagasta, who wished to protect a man who had sought refuge with him. The bishop was so careful of the truth that, rather than lying to the imperial officers who pursued the fugitive, he told them frankly that he would not reveal the man’s location. Firmus maintained this resolve even under torture, with the result that he was eventually brought before the emperor himself. But the emperor was so impressed with the bishop’s virtue that he both praised the bishop and pardoned the fugitive. *
Augustine tells this story to provide a saintly witness for his argument that lying is always morally wrong, regardless of the circumstances, and to note that God is perfectly capable of extricating from trouble those who stand fast in the truth. His treatise has been widely cited ever since, and his viewpoint was endorsed by no less saintly a scholar than Thomas Aquinas. In the monumental Summa Theologiae, Thomas states the same position: "Therefore it is not lawful to tell a lie in order to deliver another from any danger whatever. Nevertheless it is lawful to hide the truth prudently, by keeping it back, as Augustine says"*
To put it in simple Redneck English and less philosophical, the Disney character Thumper sums it up, “If you can’t say nothin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”
The Ethics of Lying has changed dramatically in US politics. Consider three famous Presidents caught lying in recent US history: Richard M. Nixon, lied, got impeached by the House, tried and found guilty by the Senate, held accountable for his abuses of power forced out of office ; William Clinton, lied, got impeached by the House, was not found guilty by the Senate, allowed to serve his term; Barrack Obama, lied (caught in several humongous woppers that make Nixon and Clinton look like saints), and was not held accountable for any of his lies and abuses of power. The ethics of lying while POTUS have clearly changed, as a society we no longer hold elected officials to the same ethical standards we once did. Our ethics have changed, the morality of lying has not.
Most libertarians have high moral standards. They believe that, as our forefathers stated, a person’s rights are unalienable. Meaning a person’s rights are not dependent on the government allowing them, but precede the government and by virtue of being a person without any dependence on any other, unalienable rights exist. These basic rights are life and liberty. No other person or group or state has the right to take your life or liberty unless your actions infringe upon the unalienable rights of another. These are moral truths not ethical rules. Your rights to life and liberty, grant you the freedom to maintain both as you see fit. Hence you are at liberty to gather food, shelter, clothing, etc. to maintain your life and other such property to make your life happier. Your liberty to do this does not grant you the right to force others to provide you with food, shelter, and what-not, to maintain your life, nor to take the justly acquired property of another. Your right to life and liberty does not obligate others to provide you with the necessities to maintain that life.
This idea is new and very short lived in human civilization. Implementing the idea that rights are granted by our Creator and unalienable, and that individuals instituted government for the sole purpose of protecting unalienable rights, resulted in the most prosperous society the world ever saw with the highest standard of living for more people in that society ever. That society embraced those ideas so thoroughly that it ended up fighting a civil war, killing off huge numbers of its own men, over the belief that “all men are created equal,” thus ending slavery in that society. Soon after that culture, the former USA, became the most powerful nation in the world.
Abandoning Morals and changing the Ethics of that society over time is bringing back the norm for human civilization. That norm being a few ruling elite live in luxury with different rules and “rights” to the common man, while the common man toils in relative privation. Feelings over situations have resulted in our culture dismissing moral truth and embracing situational ethics, as such we are returning to tyranny.
It is morally wrong to deprive a man of life, liberty, or property without due process. Today’s ethics ignore this: President Obama routinely orders the assassination of citizens without due process. Law enforcement routinely confiscates money and property without even charging the rightful owner with a crime. In Wisconsin, with the approval of district attorneys and judges, the police raided and took the property of people for merely expressing political opinions they didn’t like, they then threatened death and violence and destruction if those people dared talk about it. Even some libertarians are saying that people’s opinions and speech should be silenced because they are offended by it.
The idea that people expressing opinions that others find offensive should be illegal and those people should be silenced is now the acceptable ethic of the day. The moral imperative that all people have an unalienable right to the liberty of expressing whatever opinions they want is being abandoned. Quite recently, a significant number of people claiming to be libertarian, were up in arms and distraught over the arrest of a woman who was so incensed at others exercising their freedom of speech, by walking on an American flag, the took the flag and attempted to stop the expression by others. She aggressed against people exercising their unalienable right to freedom of speech and took their property and for that violation of other people’s rights she was rightly arrested. There are Libertarians saying she should not have been arrested, and that those expressing opinions they don’t like should have been silenced, claiming others walking on a flag they owned, and inviting others to do the same in some way violated their rights. This is a sick perversion of morals to situational ethics. The idea that it is ethical to deprive people of an unalienable right if their exercise that right doesn’t meet some group approval. Political Correctness is situational ethics and devoid of moral consistency.
Ethical relativity, as expressed by refusing to accept Moral truth, has and is leading to the destruction of our culture. If a culture accepts idea that all morals are mere subjective opinions and all cultural ethics are equally valid, such a culture will have no willingness to fight for any value. If all cultural ethics are equal then the ethos that says all dissenting speech should be silenced is just as valid as the ethos that all speech should be protected. If we teach that Morals are not truths, and only the Ethics (or rules) accepted by a society are valid, then beheading a person for not being a Muslim is just as valid as protecting the right of people to believe as they wish. A culture that treats moral truth as mere opinion will rot and fail. I wish I could do more than stand back and watch, but when even in the LP we have people willing to abandon unalienable rights it’s clear there is little hope for modern Western Civilization.
What Moral Truths are you willing to fight for, I don’t mean what Morals are you willing to write a letter and complain about, or what Morals you are willing to donate money to a cause. What Moral Truths are you willing to physically battle others to protect, even if it means you might die. Is there a “value” you think protecting is worth more than your reputation, livelihood, or life? There are others today willing to fight to the death, and die, in order to instill their moral values on you and the rest of the world. If you’re not willing to die protecting your moral values, you’ve already lost. We changed our culture to now commonly teache that morals are not truth only opinion, and that our morals are no different or better than any others. Do you expect people raised and taught to believe the morals of all cultures are equally valid to fight and die to protect their way of life? What tyranny would you consider taking up arms?
If you can’t image yourself taking up arms to protect you way of life, then you believe that your way of life is not worth protecting. ISIS and the Muslim world believes that you have no moral character and there is nothing you would be willing to fight for, that’s why they believe they will win. The statists in charge, call them Democrats or Republicans, believe that they have successfully neutered the moral character of the country so that they can do almost anything and there is nothing the people are willing to fight for. The Bundy Ranch standoff, shows the country is not yet totally neutered. How much more are you disposed to suffer, than to right yourself by abolishing the forms of tyranny to which you are accustomed? Do you believe in any Moral Truths?