The government can’t change reality

“The idea that a government would see it as its duty or within its power to redefine what a family is is a sign of a fatal misapprehension. A culture is not defined by its laws; rather, the laws are defined by the living culture. It’s not like murder and theft become bad because governments enact laws against them. Neither do families become different because judges decide that laws will be misconstrued and votes overturned to redefine what a family is. All that does is assure that the police powers of the state will now be used against anyone who does not go along with the insanity.”

Joseph Moore, “Politics as the Least Important Thing“, Yard Sale of the Mind blog, September 16, 2016.

One thought on “The government can’t change reality

  1. Thanks for the mention & link, I’m honored. Funny thing is, that paragraph is one of the things that slowed me down when first writing this up, because, while I stand behind the particular case of the family, the generalization is not exactly right as stated. Since at least Plato and Aristotle, and handed down through Augustine and Thomas, the idea that it was the state’s duty to improve the citizens has been widely acknowledged. The only difference here in America – and it is a profound difference – is that, here, the wisdom of the state is asserted to lie in the people. We, the People, are to use that wisdom to guide the government, not the other way around. So, while we do, I think, believe it is the government’s duty to take steps to improve the people – morally, not just economically and militarily – any such steps must start from the People, and not from self-appointed elites. Note that in the case of the family, the People spoke repeatedly at the ballot box that We did not want the definition of family changed – yet, by deft use of the courts, factions that could not get their way at the voting booth got it through judicial fiat. That’s not just wrong, but un-American.

    Anyway, the idea that the People might, in our wisdom, cause laws to be enacted to improve our culture is the peculiar sense in which, in America, we actually can in theory at least redefine our culture through laws. A minor nit in context, but the kind of thing I sometime worry excessively about (like, say, here in this comment…)


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