Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Axiom of Government

The Axiom of Government is a theory I've been working on for a while. Quite simply, the theory is that the sole purpose of government is to protect the rights of its citizens, and that the justness of any action is determined by whether or not it logically follows from this axiom. For example, a government maintains a military to protect its citizens from external threats, and a police force to protect them from internal threats. Censorship interferes with citizens' rights to information and free speech, so it is unjust. Imprisoning or otherwise restricting the rights of criminals is done to protect the rights (including the right to life) of other citizens who are their potential victims, so it is just.

Are you with me so far?

Ok, let's try a more controversial issue: same-sex marriage. According to the Axiom of Government, since the sole purpose of government is to protect its citizens' rights, a law that abridges rights for any other reason would be wrong.

What's that? You don't think same-sex marriage is a right? Well, it doesn't really have to be, because it shouldn't be outlawed unless it violates one, but let's explore further.

Why do people think that it should be outlawed? "Because it's wrong." What makes it wrong? "It's immoral." What makes it immoral? At this point, you'll usually get a response along the lines of "Because [insert religious text or leader here] says it's wrong, possibly with some "family values" BS along the way. Ah, here's the issue. That "[insert religious text or leader here]" part is important, because every religion has different ones that say different things about different issues (many even contradict themselves, but that's beside the point), and some people don't believe in any of these. They have the the freedom, and in fact, the right, to choose their own religious beliefs and values. Since these values differ, imposing the values of one religion on citizens who may believe in another violates their right to religious freedom. This demonstrates that the Separation of Church and State is included in the Axiom of Government.

So laws can't be made based on religious values. They can't be made based on what's moral or ethical. They can't outlaw something because it's "wrong", an action can only be prevented by a government because it violates the citizens' rights, and since allowing same-sex marriage doesn't violate a right, a law against it is unjust whether same-sex marriage is a right or not.

Notice, this is not saying whether it's right or wrong, only that a government doesn't have the right to decide that for its citizens.

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