The attack on social sanctions

Lydia McGrew has a brilliant post up at What’s Wrong with the World.  Excerpt:

In this view of the world, there is no space between legal and social penalties. If the law says that you are not forbidden to do something, that is the only thing that matters. It is only the “opinion” implied by the law that ought to have any power over you. Others are not permitted to engage in shunning or refusal to associate with you. Only the State has a right to express disapproval–in the form of making your activity illegal. No other effective form of social discouragement ought to exist.

Thus the power of the State is increased many-fold. On the one hand, this view encourages us to outlaw anything we disapprove of, with obvious implications for the increase of government power. On the other hand, this view encourages an absolute uniformity of thought, opinion, behavior, and association, dictated by the common denominator of what is legal. If it isn’t illegal, it is wrong for you to try to discourage it even by the passive means of refusing your cooperation or approval. Such disapproval and non-cooperation is wrong-thought and wrong-act; it is, in fact, discrimination, than which nothing worse can be conceived.

The State giveth, and the State taketh away, and don’t you forget it.

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