The Corner

Re: There Oughtn’t Be a Law

Kevin, you say it quite well:

In case it is not blisteringly obvious enough, it should be pointed out that Miss O’Donnell is not proposing a federal law banning masturbation. One can think all sorts of things are bad, or selfish, or undesirable, or otherwise to be discouraged — without also believing that there should be laws against them. (I never thought National Review would spend so much time writing about masturbation without a Clinton in the White House.) For instance, one may believe that marital infidelity is wrong, immoral, and to be discouraged, and believe that this is an important public issue, to be addressed by both public and private means, without believing that we should revive the adultery laws. (I do, in fact, believe there should be sanctions against adultery, but I prefer a breach-of-contract model to the criminal code, taking, as I do, a contractual view of marriage as a public institution.) One can believe that pornography is a destructive force in modern life, campaign against it, argue for social sanctions against its producers and consumers, but still reject the idea that government should censor it. You can point out that cheeseburgers are not good for you without wanting to ban cheeseburgers (I’m lookin’ at you, Nurse Bloomberg).

Here’s the way WFB Jr. put it, back in the day:

“…I would hope we emancipate ourselves from the superstition that that which is legal is necessarily honorable.  My old friend Mr. [Jesse] Jackson seems to suggest that its perfectly legal to contract syphilis, but it doesn’t mean that society is in favor of syphilis.  As a matter of fact, it’s perfectly legal to vote for Jesse Jackson.  That doesn’t make it reputable, does it?”

Sometimes it feels like we’re all just footnotes to Buckley, doesn’t it?

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