Privacy and Morality

After our discussion in class about private property and the law, I find myself considering the fact that these laws (or lack there of in some cases) have an intrinsically moral aspect to them. I believe the changing nature of the law in regard to privacy exemplifies a change in moral standards of our society as a whole. This was brought to my attention due in part to the difference in responses over the case in Texas versus the cases over domestic violence.

One thing I felt was lacking from our discussion was that perhaps those in Texas, trying to legally go after the two men for engaging in homosexual acts privately, truly felt a moral obligation to do so. Today it seems inappropriate to do so because the societal norms in regard to homosexuality are very from ten years ago. However it is plausible to believe that those authorities in Texas found the two men engaging in sexual acts with one another morally reprehensible. (This is not to say that I agree with their beliefs, but I do believe that they felt they had a moral obligation to intervene.) However, as our society continues to adopt a more liberal view towards homosexuality, this case in Texas seems absurd. How can the law punish you for engaging in a personal pleasure that, as long as it was consensual, brought no harm? I believe that the issue with this case is that for those who believe homosexuality is immoral, it does, in fact, bring harm to those engaging in it. Furthermore I think they would find the lack of intervention on behalf of the law as setting  a precedent that homosexuality is acceptable. I want to reiterate that I do not agree with this belief, however I think it is an interesting case because it has (for those who decided to go after the two Texas men) a moral facet.

Furthermore, I think it is also important to understand that the case concerning domestic violence, too, has a moral foundation, however it is a foundation in which I believe most of our society agrees with. Therefore it does not seem unnatural to have a law that prohibits a husband from beating his wife. However I believe it was not until it became a cultural and societal understanding in the United States that women were more than property of their husbands that this law could have been enacted. That is to say, the law was not put in place until society generally believed domestic violence to be immoral. Prior to the 19th century, society accepted domestic violence as an aspect of marriage, and probably did not see it to be violating any moral codes. While, I agree with the implementation of this law, I think it is important to understand that in this case the law is intervening in the private sphere on the basis of morality. With the case in Texas, the law was prohibited from doing so. I believe this reflects the changing societal and cultural norms of today and shows that the law is not completely devoid of moral standing. Rather the environment of the time period sets the tone for the way in which the moral aspect of law is interpreted.

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