Larry Sechrest
Larry Sechrest

Violence, Virtue and Vice

The world is foundering in a viscous soup of moral confusion, hypocrisy, and error. In all the nooks and crannies of society everyone, it seems, expresses concern over our "lack of a moral compass." Those on the right point to crimes by eco-nazis, animal rights terrorists, and urban gangs. Those on the left point to crimes by anti-abortionists, racist police officers, and homophobic thugs. And almost everyone seems on the verge of hysteria over students who suddenly turn into killers in the public schools. We hear endlessly of a national, indeed world-wide, need to "end the violence."

This obsessive focus on violence reveals much about the moral retardation of our time.

I take a "violent" act to be one which inflicts physical harm on another human being. I trust that is an uncontroversial definition. Then let me make something very clear: In and of itself, violence is, and can only be, morally neutral. What imbues violent acts with the glory of morality or the taint of immorality is the motive of the acting person in the given situation. To initiate violence against an innocent person is always immoral and should be condemned. To defend oneself, or any other innocent person, against such an assault is always moral and should be praised.

Those who prattle on about ending violence of all kinds are apparently so devoid of any real moral sense that they are incapable of distinguishing aggressive violence from defensive violence. If you stop to think about it, that inability puts such "adults" in the same category of intellectual development as that to which small children are usually assigned. These alleged adults, who apparently comprise a significant proportion of the world's population, are literally retarded in an important sense. They seem not to understand that the right not to be aggressed against necessitates the right to defend. Their wishes should be ignored, and their "arguments" should be dismissed summarily. Perhaps the most obvious political issue in which these quasi-humans are involved is that of gun control.

Many, both here in the United States and around the world, want to severely restrict if not ban the private use of firearms in the deranged belief that this will end all violence. In fact, the closer we come to that goal, the greater will be the incidence of aggressive violence. Those with criminal intent cannot be dissuaded by eloquent arguments that appeal to their sense of justice. They can only be stopped by defensive violence or the viable threat thereof. And that is more effectively achieved when the tools of defensive violence are in the hands of private citizens than when the public police have a monopoly on the use of force. Indeed, those who fulminate against "gun violence" actually do not want it to end, they merely want all guns to be in the hands of the State. They want the public police to use force to stop murderers. They just don't want the potential victims to use force to stop murderers. Somehow, in their tiny little brains, they believe that society is "non-violent" as long as it is the State that comes to the rescue. They are quite blatant collectivists.

So much for those who are morally retarded. How about those who are hypocrites? As usual when the issue is some form of moral turpitude, politicians are among the prominent candidates. Think how common it is to hear politicians (especially the victors) praise democracy as something almost divine and sacred, because rule by majority vote allegedly makes essential "social" decisions without the use of violence. Poppycock!

What arrant nonsense. What of the minority, who must now bow to the will of the majority? Do they do so because they are persuaded of the error of their ways? No. They obey because of the superior physical force the majority commands. They obey because they do not want to die. Violence, naked aggressive violence, lies thinly veiled behind every election, every referendum. This is preferable to an endless cycle of revolutions, but let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that democracy somehow has banished violence from politics.

However, for pure repugnant sanctimoniousness not even politicians can surpass some of those who advocate "non-violent protests" as a path to social reform. I am thinking here of those who want to be perceived as morally superior because they drape themselves in the mantle of non-violence, but then rely on the State to crush beneath its heel any who disagree with their proposed "reforms". I am thinking of people like Martin Luther King and Jesse Jackson. But there are many others, from all ethnic groups and in all countries.

As long as King and other civil rights leaders fought only for equal treatment before the law, their cause was just. It was just because it was implicitly based on individual rights to person and property. As long as the foundation was individual rights, it was, furthermore, non-racist and non-collectivist. All-too-soon, however, the civil rights movement - and similar movements on behalf of women, gays and lesbians, and Hispanics - degenerated into socialistic programs of entitlements. "Equal rights" came to mean unequal treatment in the form of special privileges for the members of these groups. And who bears the brunt of these entitlements? The governments that had instituted and enforced statutes mandating discriminatory treatment? No. Private businesses are the primary target. Private property is the target. Capitalism is the target.

Systematic control by the State, backed by the quiet but pervasive threat of violence, is the weapon. Martin Luther King, and all who imitate him, are monumental hypocrites.

What is the thread that runs through all of the moral problems we see around us? It is the failure to put the individual and his rights at the core of our thinking. I often hear people ask, "Why are individual rights so important?" It is because if they are not the central premise of our lives, we cannot possibly lead moral lives. To respect individual rights may not be a sufficient condition for a moral life, but it certainly is a necessary condition.

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