Friday, June 19, 2015


The Charleston shooting reminds me once again of the great in between. The written law guides us but what guides us there is a gap where there is no written law. We have constitutional, and we have the statutory law, but we also have the moral law, which is the basis for all law. Obviously, it is the worst of crimes to shoot nine people but is it against the law to hate nine people. We have strictly written laws guiding us in how society should punish such a crime. We recognize that hate drives crime but there is no written law against hating someone or something, nor should there be. Of course, it is the thing called ‘free speech’ so vaguely referenced in and sanctified by the Constitution. This post is about punishing violations of all those moral wrongs. No one is capable of writing punishments for moral transgressions, perhaps because we as a people could never agree on what moral transgression are. I should back up a little and say, the moral transgressions we agree on are the ones we have already written into law. Thou shall not kill, fight, steal, or commit adultery. Of course, there is great latitude in some of threes laws. As a simple example, I could mention the use of four letter words in a courtroom or on public TV versus use the same words in a sailor’s locker room. Also, it is easy to cite unsettled examples, guns on the street or in legislative chambers. Moral punishment is what we, as a society, voluntarily use to control one another. The application morel punishment is the basis for the TV show, “What would you do”, starring John QuiƱones. They use actors to create situations and then record the response and comments of observers of the actions. The actions the producers chose to portray are those that should provoke strong moral indignation. Most of the scenes portrayed on TV have one or more forcefully responding to the situation, no matter what it is. In real life, the truth seems most of the time no one responds either way but what is also true is that all observers have deep feelings, even if unexpressed. Observers universally condemned by word or deed all open expressions of racial or ethnic hatred. Thus, we as a society morally punished those who express the hate. The punishment takes many forms ranging from moving away from the vicinity of the abuser, showing a disapproving facial expression, verbal or even physical abuse toward the person who expressed the hate. What failed in the environment Dylan Foot, the shooter in the Church in Charleston, was that he grew up in an environment that lacked moral punishment. In fact, the opposite is the case where people reward such behavior. I am amazed at the regional nature usually taken in these matters. I look at South and North Carolina for example and find ethnic and racial hatred as a way of life. When I first moved to North Carolina, it was not as obvious to me as it now is. The longer I live here, the more I learn how these people hide it from one another. Moral punishment has shaped their behavior in a peculiar way. I understand which people, from among Carolinas hate black people, or rag-heads, or Latinos, or Jews, and which one are tolerant. I carefully chose the word ‘tolerant’ rather than the word ‘accepting’ to delineate two groups within the larger group. I am here to tell you racism is very much alive but below the surface in South and North Carolina. Dylan Foot it the tip of the iceberg. Clearly, he grew up in an environment without moral punishment. If you are waiting to hear this said during interviews of his family and friend in the newscasts you will not hear it—they are masters at hiding it along with much else. “We the people” of North Carolina are re-segregating our schools, we are electing racist senators, we are the suppression of black voters, and we only tolerate black churches because it is the written law. Hope comes from of expecting hate groups will be getting smaller and smaller; however, I was shocked to find out that is not the case. Did you know that they lowered the United States flag and the South Carolina State flag to half-mast, but the Confederate flag flies proudly at full staff? URL: Comments Invited and not moderated

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