I was watching one of the recent GOP debates and I heard Ron Paul say something that really struck me, responding with his thoughts on abortion.
I transcribed the quote, but the video is down below that if you’d like to watch.
…in the 1960s, when the culture was changing, the vietnam war was going on, the drugs were there, the pornography came in, then abortion became prevalent even though it was illegal. So the morality of the country changed, but then the law followed up. When the morality changed, it will reflect on the laws. The law is very important(…), but the law will not correct the basic problem: that’s the morality of the people.
It struck me that Paul said we need to change the morality of the people in the US, and make it morally unacceptable for abortions to take place, in order for anti-abortion legislation to take hold. And then there was a great applause.
Now Paul is certainly not the first person to say that the laws reflect the morality of the masses. One of my criminal justice professors told me the same thing, and though she didn’t remind me of the grandfather I always wished I had, I believed it just as much coming from her mouth as Paul’s. But hearing it the other day made me think about the morality-based battle I find myself fighting every day.
I sometimes have a hard time understanding how people can separate LGBT rights and human rights. I’m even more confounded when I consider the fact that a lot of those people, and certainly the most powerful ones, are proud Christians (“love thy neighbor”) and proud Americans (“give me your huddled masses, yearning to be free”).
I often struggle with the idea that the right side of the political spectrum is the one arguing for small government, yet arguing that the gov’t should be deciding who is fit to marry who – something that seems to encroach on liberties far more than a percentage point of income tax. And most often I feel weighed down by my concern that people care solely about themselves, and when 90% of the population is only looking after that 90%’s needs, it seems like the other 10% isn’t likely to gain a voice.
I think that’s immoral. I think it’s immoral to discriminate against people due to aspects of them that are in-born, innate, and/or identity-based. I think it’s immoral that most Americans don’t support legislation to promote what I believe to be human rights. Many of us who feel as I do have dedicated a lot of our energy fighting for that equal rights legislation, but maybe we’re fighting the wrong battle. Maybe Paul has a point. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but do we need to change the morality of the people, in order to change the law?
Did you know that being attracted to individuals of the same sex was considered a mental illness by the American Psychology Association until 1973? Did you know that being transgender is still considered a mental illness by the American Psychology Association?
Clearly, we have a lot of work to do. But don’t be too daunted – a lot of progress has been made. Just look at what we accomplished in 2011.