As long as it’s legal, who am I to judge?
Billie commented on a bull riding post from January of this year, writing: "And whos [sic] to judge someone for what they enjoy as long as it is legal!" (I had condemned bull riding and stand behind that.)
Let's deconstruct. There are at least two things going on here:
1) If it's legal it's okay; and
2) If it's legal it shouldn't be judged.
I haven't heard the "it's legal" argument in a long time and find the law to be such a completely separate concept that I don't even know where to begin.
The law, as I was told by one of my professors during my ten minutes of law school in 1991, isn't about justice (it's about society functioning smoothly). It might reflect the values of the majority in some ways (and in other ways not), but its function is not as a moral statement, said that professor. Funny thing is that the professor of the next class disagreed with some of that, and there's a class devoted to the history and function of our laws.
Not judging something because it has already been deemed legal brings up another point that has always irked me: that judging is bad. As if humans don't assess and judge things, people and experiences all day long and use those judgments to form a future course of action or decide which relationships they do and don't wish to pursue. And as if there are humans who don't judge.
And is there a distinction between judging bull riding as unethical (not to mention brutal) and judging a bull rider?
But back to the beginning. Using animals in all manner of ways is legal, and many people enjoy using them. However that doesn't make it right to use them. We have a legal right to use them, but that doesn't mean doing so is justifiable morally.
Abortion is legal in this country, yet millions of people don't think it's right. What say you, Billie, about that?
And the people who disagree with the law allowing abortion are trying to change it to reflect their values, just like people who believe animals should have the right to their own bodies and natural lives try to work toward changing laws that govern the way we use animals. (Though the actual attempts at changing laws are almost always of the regulation variety, the concept of wanting to change a law to reflect a disagreement stands.)
None of this means that an action was wrong before it became legal, and then it became right. It merely transitioned from illegal to legal (or vice versa). Ethics and the law don't necessarily move together.
How do you feel about the "but it's legal" argument and about whether what you do is "judging" and whether that's bad?