DOES "TOO MUCH" INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM HURT SOCIETY'S MOST VULNERABLE MEMBERS?

 

We often hear that laws enforcing a communal sense of morality are necessary to protect society's most vulnerable people, especially children in economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Actions and values putatively have consequences beyond what is immediately visible.

Here are some examples:

 

    1. Drug laws are held to be necessary to keep children or teens from being tempted to even try.
    2. Pornography laws are necessary to keep vulnerable men from attacking women or losing sexual interest in their wives; sodomy laws are necessary to keep young men growing up "sexually normal." It took a determine Supreme Court to point out, in the case of electronic communications, how the resultant dumbing down would violate the First Amendment.
    3. Gun control is necessary to prevent tragedies like Jonesboro or Columbine (in Littleton, Co).
    4. More convincingly, media violence is held to incite destructive behavior in unstable or sociopathic people. An example of this view is the lawsuit against Paladin Press over the book Hit Man, from a family of a murder victim.

 

Author Charles Murray, in What It Means to Be a Libertarian (Broadway, 1997), has a one word answer for this: Tough! The use of force to enforce collective moral judgments usually results in unintended consequences worse in totality than the behaviors cited. Again, why can't we be more determined to hold people strictly accountable for their own acts?