Americans are complete and utter moral cowards. We're such moral cowards we can't take a mass stand on anything wrong unless it's also something we can criminalize. Anything that bothers us, we either need to outlaw it, or we'll throw our hands up in claimed helplessness: "Can't say anything about it! It's not against the law! It's a free country!" Coward. The fact it is a free country means you are free to say everything about it. But you're too timid and wishy-washy to even state why a thing is wrong! Unless you can say either "Because it's illegal!" or "God said it! Don't blame be blame God!" As if well-cowed submission to authority could possibly stand as a reason that an an action is wrong. It's wrong...because it's illegal? That's why it's wrong? Think that one through, sometime.
Sometimes we'll even go so far as to pass laws criminalizing things no just government organized on principles of liberty can prohibit! Then when the Supreme Court throws it out, we grouse that the Supreme Court is the guilty party on that charge of moral cowardice. Even though everyone involved passing the law knew damn well it was doomed! Incredibly, we'll pass an unconstitutional and doomed law, purely to make a statement. Our constituents will be happy we tried, and mad at the Supremes, and everyone distracted by the vast wasted expenditure worming its way through the courts, and everything happily back to status quo by the end of the episode. Cue laugh track?
How about next time we want to make a statement, we do it by telling people why the fuck a thing is wrong. Can you do that? Can you do it without invoking an authority? Because if you can't, if the only way you can call something wrong is by reference to authority, you have no fucking idea why it's wrong.
Actually in that case, people being "moral cowards" is not really the problem, so much as people being "moral imbeciles."
Americans are fucking cowards and imbeciles. Fuck. Me too, I guess. I'm an American! I share the stigma and I will exult with the rest of us when we finally knock it off, when we one day overcome (and perhaps even pay some long-overdue reparations to ourselves over all the damage this attitude has done to us all!). From prohibition of alcohol all the way up to classifying speech as crime because there is what - hate added into it? Hate itself is legal, idiot. If someone incites a riot, if someone uses their free speech to perpetrate a con job, a fraud, if someone uses their speech to rile a bunch of people in a room up to go out and grab and kill a guy, if their speech goes to betray state secrets - these are crimes already. It's not "freedom of speech" that makes the idea of a hate crime idiotic and untenable. It's the fact that hate is legal. Me telling you how I judge human beings I don't even know - me telling you what a fucking idiot I am and how little my opinion should count to you because of the way I judge on bias - that's legal. Quit pussing around passing laws that are only put on the books to make a statement when you know damn well they're going to get struck down the first chance we get to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and wasted time working it all the way up through to the highest courts. I hate that.
Anyway. All of that's just a side note. What I mean to emphasize, re: my whole problem with Miley Cyrus Doing The Unthinkable In A Bikini, is just that my objection is nothing to do with any violation of any right of privacy. Like we said, your right to privacy doesn't exist in public - even an idiot or a libertarian can see that. What I'm talking about here has simply to do with rising up in indignation. And when something is just wrong, with saying what's wrong. Saying why it's wrong. Exercising your right to free speech, which when you see something horrible going on - especially, going on all around you - includes a right to excoriate and revile. A right to lay out in no uncertain terms what is so wrong with what's going on, whether it is legal or not. And if I may be so bold, anyone who claims to care about right and wrong is a liar and a dipshit if they cannot state why an act is wrong without reference to authority.
Now that's just wrong.
But mind you, though! If you think I may be insulting you, consider what an ugly, disgusting shoe I've just laid out for you to try on. Does it really fit? Because if you claim to care what's right or wrong, then contemptible actions should provoke rebuke. Yet actions and attitudes can change. We can't strip a person of dignity or have contempt for them forever. My contempt is for actions only, and only where I am able to say exactly why the act is contemptible.
It's a high mark of esteem in humans, or it ought to be, that we're capable of caring so much what is right that we'll tell you where you're wrong - despite the risks. These risks would diminish into an infinitesimal if only each person recognized their ability to condemn the wrong thing without condemning the wrongthingdoer! And where's the harm in that? Outside the context of the criminal justice system, where can it ever do anything but harm to condemn a person? Yet to condemn an act as wrong is valuable in almost every case. At worst it will bring differing ideas of social good into relief, and shed corrective light all around. At best, it will underscore the importance of fighting together against a harmful thing. In every case it gives us opportunity to emphasize the distinction between contempt for an act, and contempt for a human being.
Even a contemptible act is no cause to treat someone as less than human.