Heresy is not Hearsay
The freedom to think, express and act on your own thoughts in ways that do not infringe on others’ equal rights is an important concept in any healthy democracy. Often thwarted by blasphemy laws, and other laws inspired by unfounded fears about what might happen if an action were allowed, freedom to think gets infringed upon in the developmental stages. Initiative wanes and inventive development ebbs. Before you object to that statement, think: how can you know what you’re missing?
As creatures of habit, our social species adjusts to inferior conditions later generations will accept imposed strictures as “the way it has always been” without noticing the buildup of untested laws—laws written with no awareness of whether whatever they were to protect against is something that might actually occur—laws written with no testing to see what unexpected unwanted effects they might induce in other areas of endeavor—laws designed to sneak religion into the system and nudge it into compliance with the dominant cult. After a few more generations have passed, conditions grow stifling, stress levels increase, preachers find scapegoats to blame, lawmakers write new laws that might give relief, people vote the other party into office “because this one isn’t working”, and conditions continue to worsen.
We live in the best country in the world. Why? Because we continue to believe that. If we don’t, then we live in the world’s worst country, wherever we live. Nobody lives in the world’s most mediocre country—except for me. I’m an exception, along with a few other realists scattered around the globe. We want our country (whichever one it is) to stamp out mediocrity and return to the glorious perfection of earlier times. We know what it would take to get there: erase all the laws derived from hearsay and superstition, fear (including fear of offending and of the unknown and the “it might”), dump all the laws that infringe on personal freedoms and those against so-called victimless crimes, and make the lawmakers actually have to provide evidence of the need for such laws thereafter; and make such evidence follow the dictates of the scientific process, in which abeyance plays an important role. If the need cannot be objectively demonstrated, the infringing law cannot be written.
Even then, a cost analysis may show unforeseen victims, or that negative benefits may result, an onerous burden would be laid onto the taxpayers (who then become victims of the law), that a high percentage of citizens would become incarcerated as a result of enforcement, that attempts to enforce might entangle the government with religion by forcing it to decide what is, and what is not, a religion. To engage in that arena is forbidden; whatever the government might decide would be incorrect, and we already have experienced too much of that.
Opinion is not evidence. What might happen is opinion until it happens, after which why it happened becomes opinion. Intersections often go without stop signs or red lights until after accidents have occurred. Our personal freedoms deserve at least that kind of hesitation. If they don’t, then this—wherever it is—is not a free country.