IS THE LAW REQUIRED OR IS CUSTOM SUFFICIENT?

In the last post, SEXUAL DELUSIONS: BELIEVING IN FALSEHOODS IS HARMLESS?, we considered the sex-saturation of our culture. Here I would like to briefly consider what we can do about this problem. Doug (FPS/DougLite.com) does not see an immediate solution.

Doug (FPS/DougLite.com)

I realize that everything has to have some level of politics assigned to it… but it seems to me politics enters the picture when one side or the other suggests a fix, solution, or remedy to what the problem is. Regarding female abuse and assault I don’t see us yet at that point of solving anything. Heck, no one can even agree on where to even start understanding the problem. On one end you have women who favor something akin to solving the problem the Lorena Bobbit way… and others (many smart ladies reflected in here and on Insanity’s blog) actually want to give this some objective thought.

comment involves an astute observation. Is there a governmental solution? Probably not. The government usually does not have a good solution. With respect to the sex-saturation of our culture, the government is just getting in the way of a solution.

What is the problem? The problem is one defining and enforcing appropriate sexual mores. Historically, issues related to sexual mores do not make it into court except in extreme cases, like divorce or physical violence. In our day, however, even though we cannot define pornography, we can drag someone into court over a sex related civil rights violation that leaves many scratching their heads. This problem arises because some people want to use the law to impose their beliefs on others.

So if government does not have a solution, what is the alternative? Our society exercises control over our behavior at two levels: custom and law.

Society does not enforce customs using the threat of force.

custom   [kuhs-tuh m]   noun
1.a habitual practice; the usual way of acting in given circumstances.
2.habits or usages collectively; convention.
3.a practice so long established that it has the force of law.
4.such practices collectively.
5.Sociology. a group pattern of habitual activity usually transmitted from one generation to another.

Laws, however, are maintained with the threat of government backed force, but note that judges may consider what is customary in their decisions.

law   [law]   noun
1.the principles and regulations established in a community by some authority and applicable to its people, whether in the form of legislation or of custom and policies recognized and enforced by judicial decision.
2.any written or positive rule or collection of rules prescribed under the authority of the state or nation, as by the people in its constitution.Compare bylaw, statute law.
3.the controlling influence of such rules; the condition of society brought about by their observance:maintaining law and order.
4.a system or collection of such rules.

In contemporary legal systems, we refer to customary law as case-law and common law (see Custom (law)). However, I am not a lawyer. So I don’t want to delve too far into the legal aspects of this issue. Because our differences over sexual mores can be so intractable, the point here is to observe that for the most part dragging issues related to sexual mores into court is bad idea. It is just begging for the courts to come into our bedrooms.

How does leaving such matters to custom largely solve the problem? What does custom involve? Consider what we teach our children. In addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic, we want them to learn the customs of our society. We are not born knowing how to behave; we must be taught what to believe and how to behave. When our superiors and peers condemn us for not behaving in accordance with custom, that education is given force. When we refuse to abide by their customs, those in the circles who maintain those customs will condemn us. These people may even refuse to associate with us. That can make finding employment and advancement impossible. Yet we may not any encounter legal sanctions. In fact, in our day, because the government now wants to dictate customs, those who once refused to abide by certain customs may find themselves able to sue. Lawyers may like that, but does that really help the rest of us?

The alternative, the Law, is an awkward, blunt instrument. Laws don’t leave people much choice, rarely provide any opportunity for finesse, and they are costly to enforce. But lawyers like more laws because more laws means more money.

Consider a simple example of how customs work. How would we deal with someone who is habitually rude? Can you imagine having any friends if you constantly interrupted everyone? If you went to a job interview in dirty clothes with a mouth full of chewing tobacco, how likely is it you would be hired? When we are unwilling to practice good manners, other people don’t want us around. Anything wrong with that? Of course not.

Traditionally, our nation has enforced sexual mores much the same way we enforce good manners. In the past when couples chose to live together without getting married, other couples usually steered clear, not wanting their children to imitate such behavior. Homosexuals chose to stay in the closet because most people believed the practice of homosexuality is sinful. Therefore, they feared homosexuals had serious moral issues. I could go on, but the point is the law for the most part stayed out of the bedroom. What people did to live as they wished is to associate with people of like mind. That is why, for example, relatively large number of homosexuals live in certain communities and work in certain professions.

So how do we get from our current state (endless legal disputes that rip us apart) to a society that allows each of us to make our own decisions and accept the consequences? We have to:

  • Remove such matters from the jurisdiction of the Federal Courts and give them back to the states.
  • Decide the interests of the government. Customs require a clear framework in which to work. When custom and law are in conflict, for example, we see ridiculous things like prosecutors trying to bankrupt bakers just because the bakers don’t want to bake wedding cakes for “marriages” between two people of the same sex. Personally, I believe the primary role of government should be protection of the rights of children. I also believe women need to be protected from men who make promises but then choose to abandon them after they have children. Otherwise, I think the law should be as simple as possible.
  • Get the government out of the education business. When we fail to make a proper effort to pass on our beliefs, including our traditions and customs, to the next generation, we leave them confused. What happens is that unscrupulous people see that confusion, and they take advantage of the situation. Hence, just to increase their sales, certain businessmen have saturated our culture with sex.

So what would society look like if we adopted the suggestions above? We can only guess, but I suspect women would drive the agenda. Over the long haul, because women are so involved in child rearing, women — when allowed to do so — steer the culture. What American women most want, I think, is equality before the law. I doubt most women want to be treated like smaller men, and I doubt most women want to subordinate the men in their lives. Instead, they want the opportunity to use and benefit from the talents God gave them. This is an opportunity we must each work for ourselves. All government can do is protect our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

We cannot become what we want to be by infringing upon the rights of others.

8 thoughts on “IS THE LAW REQUIRED OR IS CUSTOM SUFFICIENT?

Add yours

  1. I dunno, Tom.. sounds like you are taking an already complicated subject and making it even more complicated. My remark about things taking a political view was not necessarily meant to suggest government involvement. I realize it’s your crusade to limit or reduce government involvement in our lives and in that I agree. You and I can both sit here and discuss the definitions and limitations of government infringing on our daily lives but the fact remains… given we all love the Constitution we are bound by the dictates of a Congress elected by the people.. all kinds of people… all with private agendas on how they think life should be in America. The elected officials take that to the floor of the House and Senate because their constituents demand it and sometimes laws get passed that do indeed seem to impose on our freedom at home (and yes.. I know that lawmakers can have self-serving interests but that is also a part of our system of government). Sometimes down the line in time the national mood may change, economics may change, and what we thought was of value enough to pass a law years before, looks crazy by today’s definition. So we dump it… sometimes.
    You said…

    “If you went to a job interview in dirty clothes with a mouth full of chewing tobacco, how likely is it you would be hired? When we are unwilling to practice good manners, other people don’t want us around. Anything wrong with that? Of course not.”

    Two concepts here. The law says that you must not take into consideration judgmental social custom based on YOUR criteria of behavior in a job applicant. If that tobacco chewing, unkempt job applicant is qualified to perform the job… what you think regarding his appearance in determining his ability to perform the job has no bearing. Now, of course we are all human and in spite of nice looking laws of equal treatment we all can be influenced by things the law says we should not. But this scenario falls far different than simply our individual proclivities to prefer people with good manners in daily encounters.

    But, Tom.. this entire subject is regarding the sexual assault and the objective sexual abuse of women in our contemporary society. It’s not about how society should control our cultural sexual behavior without the need for government. I can surely see where there is a debate between customs and laws but I fail to see the relevance of that when discussing female victimization by predatory males. It’s not so much I disagree with your points for what they are but I fail to understand your direction. If you are suggesting, and this is likely where I see you might be coming from, that to solve the insensitivity of men in how they treat women overall we are going to have to rely more on addressing cultural behavior, as the laws for punishing assaulting of anyone are already on the books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Doug

      What we have allowed our leaders to do to the Constitution is sick. Consider your own observation.

      Two concepts here. The law says that you must not take into consideration judgmental social custom based on YOUR criteria of behavior in a job applicant. If that tobacco chewing, unkempt job applicant is qualified to perform the job… what you think regarding his appearance in determining his ability to perform the job has no bearing. Now, of course we are all human and in spite of nice looking laws of equal treatment we all can be influenced by things the law says we should not. But this scenario falls far different than simply our individual proclivities to prefer people with good manners in daily encounters.

      Look carefully at the Constitution. The Constitution is designed to prevent discrimination by GOVERNMENT entities. Congress took upon itself the authority to prevent discrimination by private employers, but there is nothing in the Constitution that gives it such authority. The interstate commerce clause? How stupid is that?

      When government is kept small, government just copies what is customary in private companies and nonprofits. When government has the power, however, arrogant leaders force the country at large to adopt the beliefs of their faction.That tends to make things very simple, but I doubt living with Stalin, Hitler, or Mao in charge is the sort of simplicity you want.

      How does the above relate to female victimization by predatory males? It is interesting that you ask that question. Many people don’t understand the fact that a government like ours cannot work — CANNOT WORK — unless most people want to do the right thing in the first place. When we properly educate our children, we work to teach them the wisdom to distinguish good and evil. Because it is about distinguishing good from evil, what we call wisdom is based upon our beliefs about God. A secular government has no business dealing with that subject. Because a secular school system must effectively choose to deny the relevance of God, too much government control actually undermines the rule of law.

      If we want men to respect women, we each need to make use of private cultural practices to instill that attitude in each other. Government is incapable of doing it. We have tried it, and it is not working.

      Like

  2. There are Too many different or varied cultures in the USA today..

    Women somehow need to band together to fix the problems they face of sexual abuse by men. Men need to be taught to respect women.

    Some men and women were taught respect by school and church religious cultures in their youth.

    Some need to be taught by being made examples in lawsuits.

    Whatever works in my opinion. Squeaky wheels get the most grease.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Like

  3. Interesting stuff,Tom.

    When it comes to solutions I tend to steer away from the law,mostly because these are heart problem,spiritual problems,cultural breakdowns. I remain unconvinced the law works as any kind of deterrent or prevention for sexual abuse. It works somewhat for taking dangerous people out of society, but that’s about it.

    Something I find interesting, criminal abuse (not to be confused with things like sexual harassment which are civil matters) are property crimes,crimes against the state. I’m sure that raises some people’s hackles,but property in this context means who do you belong to,who is charged with protecting you? That’s actually a biblical concept. In our modern culture we have broken down our lines of authority, put public schools in charge of our kids, created a lot of single parents homes, and so “who do you belong to,” has become a question no one really knows how to answer.

    Most sexual predators are cowards, they isolate victims, they choose easy targets, they select people who have no standards they answer to,and no one who is going to come after the bad guy. The human element is gone,the concept of “property” has been removed, and so now what? The state makes a really lousy substitute because of bureaucracy,red tape, being overwhelmed, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a very interesting take on the problem. Crime is actually becomes a greater problem the more government is in control. Consider the Roman practice of crucifixion. In order to terrorize people into obedience, they punished the rebellious as horribly as they could. We, on the other hand, psychoanalyze the rebellious.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Customs are like “loose taboos”, laws are “strict taboos”. For example, in the US we have a loose taboo against throwing gum on the ground. In Singapore there’s a strict taboo. We get more gum on our shoes.

    This becomes pretty important for issues like consanguinity laws. One person might argue it’s no one’s business if they have carnal relations with, and marry, their sister of daughter for example. Others will argue that if strict laws aren’t in place, that will influence behavior and eventually society overall. I think that view has a lot of merit (I share it).

    I think the problem we have with #metoo (and things related) is a bit different.
    This madness has been playing itself out in the military for much longer than elsewhere (due primarily to Congressional influence). Over time, it has taken on a life of its own and reminds me of the witch trials. Everyone is looking for witches, has become convinced that they are all living among witches, and are very very fearful of being called a witch.

    See, from my perspective the above is the problem. It is the paradigm itself that influences perceptions.

    Like

    1. Customs are like “loose taboos”, laws are “strict taboos”.

      In a society where people are largely free that statement is correct. In such a society, laws restrain us from interfering with each others rights. In a slave society, the law exists to tell us what we can do. That is government tells us our rights, and custom does not much matter. What is customary is whatever the people in charge want at that moment.

      Anyway, even though your comment is interesting, we apparently don’t see the problem and the solution the same way. At least, I don’t seem to be getting my point across with this post. So perhaps I should defer to someone who was much wiser. Please see my latest post.
      https://citizentom.com/2017/11/01/the-difference-between-a-man-of-true-public-spirit-and-a-man-of-arrogance-and-conceit/

      Like

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