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Minority rights

One discussion I've had often lately is about minority rights.

I don't think there are minority rights. I believe we have human rights and that it's not a right unless the other guy has it too. Which other guy? All other humans. At least all other humans in our culture and our society.

So let's deal with the mastodon in the room.

There are a lot of public impositions I would love to change. The Decalogue on public property. Prayers before public meetings (does that mean that decisions made are sanctioned by the Divine and therefore Cannot Be Questioned?) The unspoken assumption that I must keep my pagan symbols and rites out of the public eye lest I offend someone for attacking their religion.

Behind locked doors and privacy fences, I am "free to do what I want." But is that freedom?

     — NeoNotes - Off Limits

There's a pretty important distinction I want to make here. There's a difference between illegal behavior, societal repression, and personal discipline.

Illegal behavior means that there's a law on the books specifically prohibiting the behavior.

Mala in se means "bad in and of itself." Something is mala in se if and only if it threatens or results in measurable damage to life, liberty, and property. Murder, violent attacks, rape, kidnapping, and theft are included. The key concept here is "measurable damage."

Mala prohibita means "bad because it is prohibited." Something is mala prohibita if and only if the state has forbidden it. I would add regulation as well. Driving without a license or insurance, unusual sex, public nudity, profanity, recreational drug use, opening a small business without the "proper" permit, all these are included. The key concept here is "forbidden."

     — Roots of government power

Morals and ethics imposed by force. FORBIDDEN.

And ultimately failing.

That's the other thing to remember about mala prohibita laws. They never stop the behavior.

You see, social engineering ultimately owes it's existence to mala prohibita laws. We can agree that murder is wrong. We can agree that theft and vandalism is wrong.

But we can't agree on prostitution. We can't agree on gambling. We can't agree on prohibition.

Let's go further. Eminent domain was stretched during the 1960s and 1970s to get rid of "slums." It didn't work, it destroyed existing neighborhoods and neighborhood businesses, and usually produced "projects" that were unsafe and hotbeds of criminal activity.

Power over, all in the public good. Everything "those in charge" don't like will be FORBIDDEN.

Do you recognize a pattern yet?

Let's keep sex offenders from schools, two thousand feet seems like a reasonable distance. Except what makes a sex offender? A rapist, sure, but what about the guy with the manga collection? Do we go after the Victoria's Secret customer? What about if he's a man and wears it himself? Is he still a danger to the women and children in the area? Two thousand feet in a city with parks and schools limits where a labeled sex offender can go. Is that right?

Social engineering means the alternatives are FORBIDDEN.

     — Forbidden

I've written quite a bit about illegality over the years, especially about mala prohibita laws. As Peter McWilliams pointed out in his classic Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do, mala prohibita laws are based in religious doctrine.

Mala prohibita means someone's religion has been given the force of law. That's never a good idea. That means that mala prohibita law is never a good idea. Please read that again.

Mala prohibita law is never a good idea.

It's why kosher law should not be the law of the land. It's why canon law causes problems. It's why you're not legally obligated to do the
Nineteen Day Fast. Each of these religious systems could easily be made into a set of mala prohibita laws backed by force.

But if it's not your faith, why should you be obligated to observe it?

Remember that question, we're going to come back to it.

Societal repression is different and in some ways much crueler. It may not be exactly illegal, it's just that the people "in charge" don't like it. Sometimes it's the people "who wanna be in charge."

I suspect that the civil rights laws were intended to correct societal repression. A landlord
shouldn't be able to deny someone on the color of the skin or their religion or any of a dozen other factors. If someone has the money, a restaurant should serve them. A college group should be able to host the speaker that they choose.

Societal repression doesn't use government force, but it often uses force. Burning crosses on lawns. Protest marches turning into riots. Vandalism from the shadows.

Or even a town opposing a criminal investigation.

Societal repression is not legally sanctioned. It often happens in secret. Sometimes it's common knowledge who did it, just not openly acknowledged.

This is humanity at it's worse. Closing ranks against the outsider, marking the scapegoat, depriving people of their freedom because they are different.

Pagans see this all the time. Maybe someone wears a pentagram or a Mjölnir pendant and people take offense when a crucifix wouldn't raise an eyebrow. Maybe the police won't investigate crimes because it's not a "real" religion.
Maybe a judge deprives a mother of custody because of her faith and practices. And then there are the times where towns use zoning laws against new pagan temples.

Someone decided that there is a Higher Law than "man's law." Someone took moral responsibility.

It's really injustice. I don't know an easy way to fight it. Societal repression and
mala prohibita laws are the reason I started keeping vigil in the first place. It doesn't help that using the law against societal repression can just encourage the repression. People don't like morals forced on them if they don't agree with the morals.

There are ways to fight it though. Make sure that people know. Tell them. Show them. Ask them why it's okay for some and not for others.

Then keep doing it. Again and again and again. Because that is the only thing that can really turn societal repression around. Passing laws doesn't do it because it's a "higher law," you see.

No matter how strict the law forbidding it, social repression resists. You can never change it directly. You can only convince the people watching that injustice is being done. Maybe. If they see
The Other as just as human as they themselves are.

Remember when I asked if it wasn't your faith, why should you be obligated to observe it? Well, that can tie into societal repression too. Some people believe that their faith is the One Truth, and
HOW DARE YOU QUESTION IT?

Some of those people are atheists. Or climate change activists. Or radical feminists. Hmm, seems to me
I discussed dominists before.

It's not enough that
they believe. You must believe as they do. OR ELSE.

That's some real danger there.

There's additional risk too. Sometimes people aren't satisfied with righting injustice and equal rights. Sometimes advantage is the only thing they will accept. That can lead to injustice too. And perpetuating a struggle, all in the name of which group gets to call the shots.

Finally, we reach
personal discipline. Or as I put it, keeping peace with the neighbors.

It's why I do the "nekkid pagan" thing behind my back yard privacy fence and not out front. Some battles are worth fighting. Other battles aren't.

The real battle isn't about minority rights. It's about societal repression.

I'm already fighting that one.

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