As more members of government feel it is their duty to insinuate themselves into our daily lives through more regulation, it is easy to see why they feel the need to do so. No, that is not the reason. Nor is that. The reason is that there is no private live anymore, so now all of our social interactions must be screened.
Time was, there was public interaction, where everyone had to follow the same rules of behavior, or risk losing jobs, reputation, or social standing. Private interactions, those that took place in churches, Boy Scouts, school playgrounds,were regulated by private mores, which were enforced through shunning, hazing, and other means of humans have been using throughout the life of the species to let other humans know they were not welcome.
As those in government have begun to use its power to redress more grievances, the private spaces have, perforce, dwindled. No more can the Boy Scouts determine who they want to associate with; instead, they must take all comers. The same is true for almost all associations that used to be considered private alliances of like-minded people. There are a few bastions still holding out: due to the First Amendment, attacks on the bulwarks of churches have had to be somewhat restrained. But even there, those in government seem to have discovered the means to slip the camel’s nose under the tent. If government actors are able to use regulations to force church members to perform, or even to fund, abortions, the groundwork will have been laid for other regulations to further restrain church-members’ behavior.
When there are no more private spaces, all behavior, all the time, must be constrained through public regulation, so that no citizen will feel it incumbent upon himself to redress any grievance he may feel. Blood feuds are to be a part of history. All injured, distressed, and offended persons are to turn to disinterested, impartial arbiters to redress the wrongs committed against them. Vigilantism is out; lawsuits are in.
The only problem (okay, maybe there are more, but I’m trying to make a point, here) with this system is that nowhere, at no time, is anyone personally responsible for his own behavior. Instead of facing a lifetime of banishment from those he cares about as a restriction on unsocial behavior, the violator of social norms now must endure a few minutes of opprobrium on the news, Twitter, and YouTube, then he is free to ‘apologize’ and resume his normal life. When the government, that impartial, disinterested actor, is the only source of restraint, there can be no personal retribution compelling good behavior.
“I paid my debt.” “I went to jail, paid a fine, stood before a judge.” Once a perpetrator’s debt to society has been paid, how can society require more of him? So shame goes out the window, shunning is not an option, discretion becomes a thing of the past. As soon as the door to the cell is opened, the person who has committed an offense against society is granted a full pardon. And there is nothing that society can do about that, for fear of being assailed with a discrimination lawsuit.
When the government becomes responsible for regulating all behavior, common courtesies, shame, and embarrassment fly out the window. I understand the desire to redress grievous wrongs of the past, to allow for greater toleration of more points of view. However, we must understand that there is a price to pay for every governmental intrusion into our lives. When there are no more private spaces, private citizens lose the ability to regulate the day-to-day interactions in their lives and the means to instill social mores and principles of decent behavior in those around them, because the only determiner of decent behavior is that impartial, disinterested system of laws and regulations. If it isn’t regulated, then the ordinary citizen has no right to force conformity. If it is regulated, then the only recourse for forcing compliance is the courts.
Private enforcement of decent behavior is quick, forceful, and final. Public enforcement of regulated behavior is slow, costly to the citizenry, and over at the end of the sentence, or when the fine is paid. It should be saved for those grievances that are so wide-spread or heinous that they cannot be halted through any other means. For the smaller breaches of civility, private, personal retribution is much more effective, swift, and sure. We need private places in order to regulate our day-to-day interactions, to be able to instill our standards and principles in those we care about. There can be no instruction in the concept of diversity, or necessity to learn tolerance of others’ viewpoints, when there is only a single, centralized viewpoint, sporadically enforced, with no lasting consequences.