What Is Immoral Law
Some examples depend on the cultural framework. Think of Singapore, where it is illegal to sell chewing gum, not because it is immoral, but to promote public cleanliness. And until recently, it was illegal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia, in part because it was considered religiously immoral. This is in stark contrast to Western customs, where driving is commonplace, and in the United States it is a rite of passage for all 16-year-olds, including women. So trying to avoid taxes can`t be moral, but there are many legal ways to get away with it – so it`s legal, but immoral. Our own history offers the best and saddest example. Before the Civil War, slavery was legal in the United States, but certainly not moral. The laws were clear about what should be done (legally), but complying with the laws in this case would likely lead to a bad outcome. In the end, we disagreed on how to proceed with the case, but this discussion raised a more important question: to what extent exactly should we weigh the law in moral considerations? Rules and laws exist to protect and promote the functioning of communities. But this is where one of the many eternal problems of the chicken or egg lies: what came first, compliance or ethics? We might tend to think that laws stem from moral beliefs about what is right and wrong. But there are many interesting examples that challenge the perception that laws emanate from morality.
Honest people should not obey immoral laws. What is moral and immoral may be a controversial issue, but there are general guidelines for deciding which laws and government actions are immoral. Lysander S. Spooner, one of the great American thinkers of the 19th century. We are concerned about bullying, and not only do we tell children not to bully, but we also reprimand children who monitor bullying. We tell our children to speak, to defend the weak, etc. Similarly, whistleblowing is encouraged by many national organizations, universities, and even the federal government. Another, perhaps more egregious, example of the Supreme Court`s degrading treaties came during President Franklin Roosevelt`s New Deal, when the administration nationalized gold and made it a crime for every American to own gold. Not only has ownership of gold been made illegal, but it has also nullified all “gold clauses” in private and government contracts.
Writing gold contracts was a way to protect against government theft, namely inflation. The Supreme Court upheld the federal nationalization of gold and the cancellation of gold contracts in the famous gold clause cases. Today, many Americans have turned to gold and pushed its price to a record high, as a hedge against what they see as impending inflation. Here`s my question to you: If Obama and Congress passed a law requiring you to return your gold, would you be morally obligated to obey such a law? The fundamental distinction between legal and moral is quite easy to identify. Most people agree that what is legal is not necessarily moral and that what is immoral should not necessarily be illegal. We want to catch the bad guys and promote justice. But how can this happen if we don`t speak up and denounce immoral behavior, even if it`s legal? Perhaps our willingness to give people a pass when they do bad things, even if they are legal, undermines the likelihood that people will follow the rules, let alone the spirit of the rule. Some things are immoral, but completely legal. While other things may be illegal, but not necessarily immoral. However, things get trickier as we delve deeper into the matter. Imagine walking along a country road and arriving at an abandoned intersection. The pedestrian sign indicates that you are not allowed to cross the street.
You wait a very long time. There are no cars or people in sight anywhere, so decide to cross the road even if you know it`s against the law. They did something illegal. But did you do anything immoral? Basically, we should all do the right thing and not just follow the rules, and we even learn this as children. Think. Young children often say, “But you didn`t say I couldn`t!” We tell our children that this does not make their actions righteous. So why should we expect a little less from adults, especially elected leaders? For example, if the law says you have to extradite undocumented people to the authorities, then you would have a moral obligation to do so because that is the law. The mere fact that the law is the law creates this obligation, but we might agree that this obligation can be offset in some cases if we believe that the law itself is immoral, or if we feel that our other moral obligations outweigh our moral obligation to obey the law. .