Forced morality?

Reader comment on: MIT Shines In Harvard Admissions Trial

Submitted by Harry Binswanger (United States), Oct 29, 2018 21:10

In the full article, Ira Stoll surprises me by writing:

"Racism is irrational, and outlawing it sends a moral message."

Racism is indeed irrational, but the "moral message" that is sent by outlawing it is: you have no rights; if you do what the government declares, rightly or wrongly, to be irrational, you can be taken to prison.

Why? The racist's irrationality is his own problem; if he doesn't violate anyone else's rights in his stupidity, how can the government violate his?

A right to form and act on your own judgments necessarily implies that some men in exercising that right will form and act on irrational judgments. So attempting to outlaw (private, peaceful) irrationality is in fact outlawing private judgment.

It's the same as the issue of free speech. Free speech can't be the right to speak rationally. Free speech includes the right to speak according to one's choice--in order that the rational may be free to speak.

The dividing line is clear: physical force. As far as a proper, rights-protecting government is concerned, you can be as irrational in an ugly a form as your evil leads you to be--until you initiate the use of physical force against another man. Or threaten to do so--by the clear and present danger standard.

Irrationally refusing to deal with someone is within your rights; grabbing him, punching him, destroying his property is not.

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Other reader comments on this item

Title By Date
⇒ Forced morality? [232 words]Harry BinswangerOct 29, 2018 21:10
Don't Forget Willie Mays [90 words]Frank BarronOct 22, 2018 19:45

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