O'Reilly's Insulting Opinions on Personal Behavior
One of O'Reilly's latest talking-points memosdiscussed how the health-situation of the Pope and the disorganization of the Catholic Church is allowing the Secularist Movement to progress, unchecked. It is quite clear that O'Reilly does not agree with the Secularist movement at all, though he does not necessarily think that all of the things they advocate should be illegal. The Catholic Church, however, has a long list of things which it thinks should be illegal, and has proven to be incapable of distinguishing between what should be illegal and what it [The Church] thinks is immoral.
I. The Catholic Churh should deal with its own immoral behaviour before criticizing that of others
However, he has not been idolizing the Catholic Church, either. According to the the online transcript, O'Reilly had spent three days trying to find out why the Pope (and thus, the Catholic Church) has not acted more aggressively in combating sexual abuse by priests within the Church. The Catholic Church makes official declarations every day about how what everyone else is doing is immoral: Abortion, pre-marital sex, and contraceptives are immoral; abortion, the after-pill, and Planned Parenthood are immoral; prostitution, homosexuality, and incest are immoral; drugs, euthanasia, and smoking and drinking is immoral.
Yet, somewhere in The Bible, it said something about tending to the log in your own eye before the speck in another's. So, I suggest that, before the Catholic Church continues its war on the privacy rights of consenting adults, they clean up their own act. In that regards, what I ask is simple: that they get their priests to keep their fucking hands off of our kids. Priests, being in a position of implicitly understood trusts, have all the more violated their duties and the law when the rape little children. Thus, I suggest that the Church at least test individuals who are candidates for priest-hood for their likelihood to be pedophiles. I furthermore suggest that they institute a zero-tolerance policy towards Priests who rape children. If charges of child-molestation are brought before a Priest, the Church should suspend them from their duties and banish them from Church grounds, while the matter is ongoing. They could get paid for their suspension the same as normal salary, and be reinstituted into their position, if the charges are dropped or the priests are found not guilty. Obviously, the Church should decide if the charges had merit anyways, and if they were only dropped because of technicalities, should disenfranchise the priest. I suggest that they take a similar course of action for other crimes Priests may be accused of, such as sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, theft, and murder.
Furthermore, I suggest that the Church stop protecting criminals. If someone confesses something that is immoral, fine. The Church should keep tthat person's confidence. But if they confess something that is of a serious criminal nature (e.g., a felony), then the Church should report it. Being a Catholic should not allow you to get away with crimes. It is absurd to elevate religion so high that it is above the law, which is what it essentially is when individual's can confess to crimes like rape, murder, child-rape, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and expect confidence.
Now, you may say that the Church itself is not responsble for the actions of its members, nor of its followers. True. However, it is responsible for what it does once it finds out. The refusal of the Church to turn in admitted criminals is really just a move to gain more political power. Think about it. From a power-perspective, why would the Church turn in its own followers? That's no way to gain power. By offering amnesty to all criminals, the Catholic Church creates for itself a large following. The refusal of the Church to take serious and swift action to eliminate the pedophilia within its organization is, in fact, a mass cover-up action. Again, from a perspective of power, why would they add fuel to the flames? Their position has simply been to remain as low profile as possible, just ignore it as much as possible, and let it blow over.
II. What is disgusting may differ from what is immoral, which may differ from what is and should be illegal
*note: discussion of what is illegal is from a US-perspective
Now, on to the issues in question. O'Reilly states that [the secularist movement] aims to legalize "partial birth abortion, hard drugs, prostitution, and gay marriage". This is most certainly true, though other movements not under the ideal of secularism -- such as Libertarianism, a movement for people's rights -- also support these aims.
Something that religious factions often completely ignore, is that legality does not necessarily have anything to do with morality. Things that are disgusting may differ from things that are immoral, which may differ from things that are and should be illegal.. Is it immoral to drive at 40mph in a 30mph zone? Is it immoral to place a fence around the perimeter of your yard with the bad side facing your neighbor? Is it immoral to J-walk? Immoral to drive while talking on a cell-phone? None of those things are immoral. Yet, all of them are illegal. Now, you may not agree that all those things should be illegal, but the odds are, there are some things which you think should be illegal, but which are not immoral. Nor could they reasonably be considered disgusting. The common reason for making things illegal which are not immoral is that, if many people do them, the outcome can be diastrous (if many people drive much faster than the speed-limit, it could have dire consequences).
Now, the counter-point. Is going to a strip-club and lying to your wife about it illegal? Is adultery illegal? (the answer is, in 26 states yes, the rest no, but even in those 26 states, the laws haven't been enforced since WWII) What about cheating on a committed partner you're not married to? Is cursing someone out illegal? None of those things are illegal (or are not effectively illegal, in the case of adultery). Yet, you could reasonably consider all of those things to be immoral, and perhaps disgusting. You may not consider all of those things immoral (I don't). However, odds are, there are some things which you think are immoral, but yet that should not be illegal and punishable with the force of law. The common reason why some things which are typically considered immoral may not be illegal is that: (a) Reasonable people can disagree on their immorality; (b) They are not worth bothering with the taxpayers money or time; (c) To effectively illegalize them would involve draconian violations of human rights.
Finally, there are some things which are disgusting, yet which are not and should not be illegal. Do you consider eating cottage cheese to be disgusting? What about broccoli? Or brussel-sprouts? Maybe sushi? Or fried buffalo-balls? Anchovies? Odds are, you think that eating at least one of those things would be disgusting. However, it is neither immoral, nor illegal, nor should it be illegal, to eat any of those foods. Even if you don't think that eating any of those foods is disgusting, there are most certainly other things which you find disgusting, but do not think are immoral, nor think should be illegal.
III. Partial birth abortion, hard drugs, prostitution, and gay marriage are not immoral, nor should they be illegal
Now, when you apply the chain of thought I just developed to the long list of things that the Catholic Church disapproves of -- which apparently doesn't include child-rape -- it becomes clear that, even if you think all of those things are immoral and disgusting, that does not necessarily mean that any of them should be illegal. Indeed, there are many good arguments to be made for why none of these things are not immoral or disgusting, and should not be illegal.
A. Partial birth abortion, though it may be disgusting, is not necessarily immoral, nor should it be illegal.
There is little denying that partial birth-abortion is disgusting. It is not a procedure you would want to watch being done while you eat. Never-the-less, neither are lipo-suction, root-canals, or rectal exams things that could qualify as television suitable for watching on a tender stomach. Certainly, none of them are immoral or illegal. So, the fundamentalist scare-tactic that tries to convince people that partial birth abortion should be illegal by showing disgusting pictures is fallicious. Many things -- regurgitation, for example -- are disgusting, but not immoral, nor should they be illegal.
Now that that argument has been dispatched, we can proceed to immorality. Surely, if you believe that the foetus is a person and that the right to life is of paramount importance, then, if you are consistent, you must believe that partial birth abortion is immoral, must you not? Not necessarily. What the hard-line antagonists of partial-birth abortion often neglect to mention is that the vast majority of partial birth abortions are not elective, but are done for medical reasons -- the safety of the mother. Think about it -- why would anyone in their right mind wait out the first 6 months of pregnancy -- while abortion is safer than birth -- only to elect to have an abortion during the last 3 months in the 3rd trimester? They wouldn't. Alternatively, even if the abortion is elective, there are other rights aside from the right to life -- such as the right to body, which is under the law in cases of extreme duress, just as important as the right to life. Homocide is justifiable to protect the right of another to his or her body from extreme violation, such as rape, torture, assault, or child-molestation -- even if the offender can't help his or her violation of the vicitm (e.g., if the offender is insane).
In any event, even if you believe that elective partial birth abortion is immoral, that doesn't necessarily mean that it should be illegal. For one thing, it is an issue that, as one man said, "informed and well-intentioned individuals can reasonably disagree on". In another regard, the illegalization of it would be undesireable for other reasons. It would require massive violations of privacy, and would encourage women to take matters into their own hands, rather than consulting a professional -- which would mean that the abortions would still be taking place, but women would be at significant risk. Furthermore, should every woman having a partial birth abortion need to provide proof that it was medically necessary or adviseable? Doctor-patient confidentiality goes out the window, because the Cathoilc Church has issues with abortion?
B. Hard drugs, though they may be disgusting, are not necessarily immoral, nor illegal
There is no denying that what hard drugs can do to an individual is disgusting. For a powerful real-life example of how drugs can destroy a person, watch the dramatized biography, Gia, with Angelina Jolie playing Gia. A fictional movie, A Reqium for a Dream also paints an effectively horrifying picture. However, many things that are legal can destroy a person's life, and we must remember that it is ultimately individual action which destroy's his or her life, not drugs. Alcohol can cause one to kill others while driving, lose one's job, and generally become a complete failure in life. Smoking can cause one to experience a painful and torturous death. Yet, neither of these things are -- nor should be -- illegal. It is arguable that the reason the mafia persisted strong until the 90s is because of the ill-advised prohibition on alcohol in the 30s. We are seeing the negative effects of the government's insane taxation on cigarattes here in the US -- people go to Indian Reservations and buy trunk-loads full of cigarattes. The prohibition on drugs is also what keeps black-market associated crime strong in the US. The reason drug-dealers and drug cartels prosper is because drugs are illegal -- thus overpriced -- in the US. The last people who want to see drugs legalized are those who rely on selling drugs for their income. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that drugs shouldn't be regulated -- as is alcohol. One cannot drive while drunk, due to the effects of alcohol. Likewise, it would be reasonable to say one can't be stoned while in public, due to the dangers of hallucinations to others.
C. Gay marriages, though some may consider them disgusting and immoral, should not be illegal
The role of the state in marriages is not to condone some marriages as religiously acceptable or not. As a legal matter, the sole purpose of marriage is to join assets, create certain tax advantages (along with some draw-backs), and create official recognition that two people are "together". It has nothing to do with the union of two soles before god. Now, you may consider gay marriage -- and the implied gay sex -- to be disgusting. However, you may also consider many kinds of sex that occur between heterosexual husbands and wives to be disgusting (e.g., fisting), but yet not immoral, and certainly shouldn't be illegal. You may even consider it to be immoral, but that does not necessarily mean it should be illegal. You may also consider certain kinds of sex occuring between man and wife (again, fisting, anal sex, bondage, etc) to be immoral; but that does not necessarily mean that they should be illegal. Illegalizing them would require severe violations of privacy.
But, I've drifted a bit. The issue here is about homosexual marriage, not sex. Again, as a matter of law, marriage has nothing to do with the union of souls, eternity together, or any of those other religious connotations. As a matter of law, when the law considers you married, all that means is that you are treated as a different entity in terms of taxes, debts, loans, property, and so-on and so-forth. In most cases -- provided competent legal management by the married couple -- that treatment is beneficial (e.g., larger tax exemptions). So, the issue here is that it is undeuly prejudicial for the law to only allow this advantage for those who happen to be heterosexual.
D. Prostitution, while you may consider it disgusting and immoral, should not be illegal
I have made a case for why prostitution is not disgusting or immoral, and should not be illegal, in another article. You can click on "dh003i's stories" and find it. I will only make a few points. The opinion that prostitution is disgusting is purely subjective, and insubstantiatable. Even if you view it as disgusting from a health-hazard point of view, health-hazards associated with it can be avoided by practicing safe-sex. Some may find it immoral, because, they say, it encourages infidelity. Well, that is hardly the fault of the prostitute, if a husband or wife strays; nor can they reasonably be asked to query all clients for that knowledge, because clients would lie if they thought prostitutes wouldn't sleep with them because of marriage (so it's pointless). Other's have argued that it's immoral because it devalues women and is degrading to them. Never-the-less, many individuals have found extreme power from prostitution and other sex work (see FeministStripper and Prostitute's Network). Other's have argued that it reflects badly on all women. Yet, this is fallicious reasoning -- since when do the actions of a few members of a group generalize to the entire group? Individual's are responsible for their own actions only, not those of any others. Finally, even if one views it as being immoral beyond repair, that does not necessarily mean it should be illegal. The effects of illegalizing prostitution have been so harmful as to justify its legalization to ameliorate them.
IV. Why I still respect O'Reilly
Everyone is entitled to their opinion as to what they think is immoral, disgusting, and should be illegal. Yet, I particularly respect a man or woman who can say that, though they think something may be disgusting or immoral, it should not be illegal -- for both practical and human-rights reasons. It is important that individual's understand that that which may disgust them may not necessarily be immoral; that that which they think is immoral should necessarily be illegal; and that, for many things, equally informed and intelligent well-meaning individuals can disagree on the morality of. O'Reilly, who said that -- though he disagrees with the "libertine" philosophy -- he agrees with the Supreme Court's decision that sodomy laws are unconstitutional due to privacy violations.