Yet I wonder, is that an intellectually honest argument? Let us consider. What is legislation? Legislation is nothing more than the codification into law of the publicly accepted standards of morality, is it not? Whether that morality stems from secular philosophy or from religion, legislation is still based on public morality.
Or to look at it from another perspective, what would the law be without morality? Without morality we are reduced to a form of social Darwinism. Our belief that we are children of a Creator guides us to help the weakest among us. If we remove morality from the equation, there is no logical justification for charity, and certainly not for government welfare programs. The Darwinist says that the weakest must be allowed to die off so that only the strongest will remain to propagate the species, and thus each successive generation would be stronger because the weak are weeded out. From this perspective, government welfare is actually counterproductive.
The debates that I mentioned earlier were centered on First Amendment speech protections. My debate opponents argue that pornography is protected free speech, as are violent video games, and that the Founding Fathers would support such an interpretation, understanding that while they may object to the content, they would not ban the expression.
The video game issue references several cases working their way through the courts right now in which certain jurisdictions are seeking to ban the sale of video games with graphic violence and sexual depictions. The development of high resolution graphics has allowed video game developers to render very lifelike depictions in which the player can become a gang member, pimp, drug dealer or other societal lowlife. With great realism it allows the player to rape defenseless women, initiate execution style killings of rival gang members and innocent bystanders, behead people and so forth.
The sellers of these video games defend their wares as being just harmless fun, in which the players get to "blow off steam" in the virtual world, arguing that actions engaged in the virtual world do not affect how we relate to the real world. Those that defend such a limitless expression of free speech concur and defend every depravity as a "right" that our Founders died to protect. Yet I can't help but think that their defense is not universal. For example, would they accept as "harmless fun" a video game in which realistic depictions of robed Klansmen drove around in pickup trucks, rounding up defenseless black people, beating them, raping them and then beheading or lynching them? How about a video game in which the player can follow someone leaving a gay bar and then kidnap and torture them? Somehow I suspect that there would be outrage at such a game, and justifiably so.
I have the same questions regarding pornography. Does anyone truly imagine that Madison or Adams or Jay would have contemplated that their guarantee of free speech would have included the sexual exploitation of women? Could they have imagined a day in which the courts would rule that certain expressions of political or religious speech would be seen as unconstitutional (i.e., McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform limiting political speech, or banning the Ten Commandments from courthouses and public areas), while protecting "exotic" dancing, virtual child pornography and other dehumanizing media? Such an assertion is absurd on its face.
President John Adams, having been instrumental in achieving support for our declaration of independence from Britain, once wrote "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. ... Statesmen may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a greater Measure than they have it now, They may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty."
British statesman Edmund Burke put it even more succinctly when he said "Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites."
Though I should by now be acclimated to it, I have still not reached a point where I can understand those who defend as "rights" the expression of the vilest and basest characteristics of humanity. Those who defend pornography rarely address the lives destroyed by it, the "actresses" so dehumanized that they become addicted to drugs and alcohol. We rarely hear those defending pornography addressing the destruction wreaked upon families, of heartbroken wives and children whose homes are torn apart.
To a certain extent the political left is correct. If we have reached a point where we are relying on the threat of government force to achieve public and private morality then we have already lost the battle. While laws are necessary to discourage immoral or harmful behavior, the root of any success that we will have begins in the family and the church. The goal should be to instill such a deep sense of character and integrity, a charitable and civil nature, a love of things virtuous and lovely and praiseworthy, that the law will be there only to capture the most egregious offenders. As a society, it is in our best interest to teach our children correct principles from an early age so that as they get older they will rein in their carnal appetites and govern themselves.
As our Founders echoed with near unanimity, this experiment in self-government was the greatest in the history of mankind. Nothing of the kind had ever before been attempted. They understood, however, that this constitutional republic would only succeed while the people it governed were a moral and righteous people. It was never meant to govern a nation of immoral miscreants, or a nation of people who indulged in their most depraved and loathsome desires. Indeed, it is impossible for the Constitution to govern such a people. Such a people must be governed by brute force.
God's Law, what the Founders called "the law of Nature and Nature's God" are immutable and eternal. Our opinions on these laws have no more validity than do our opinions on gravity. They simply are. As individuals, families, communities, states and nations, we may acknowledge these laws and benefit from them, or we will break ourselves upon them, crushing our spirits as surely as our bodies would be crushed upon the rocks at the base of a cliff. We may choose morality and freedom, or immorality and servitude. The future of our families and nation depends upon each of us making correct choices.
There is certainly cause for hope. There are a number of recent studies showing a reduction in the percentage of unwed teen pregnancies, and a resurgence of the desire to marry in the younger generations. If, instead of seeking justification for depravity, we seek to cultivate the very best in our human natures, we will see our nation elevated once again. Our nation has experienced these religious and moral revivals periodically in the past, with favorable results. Let us seek to regain that higher purpose and achieve that greatness which is within us as children of our God and our Creator.
Louis DeBroux is a Taylorsville resident, married, with eight children. He is vice chair of communications of the Bartow County Republican Party. He owns Gatekeeper data backup and recovery. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.