Crimes are often categorized as mala in se vs. mala prohibitum.  The distinction is important because it is also a way of measuring values.

Mala in se crimes are inherently wrong.  Premeditated murder, rape, robbery, and theft are examples of actions that are inherently wrong.

Mala prohibitum crimes are wrong because of regulations.  Jaywalking, traffic violations, and driving an unlicensed vehicle are examples of prohibited behavior that is not inherently wrong.  Or in more familiar terms, wrong ‘because I say so’.

People tend to make negative moral judgements against rapists while perhaps  smiling about someone getting a speeding ticket.

This discussion about inherently wrong vs. wrong because I say so also correlates with the discussion about Natural law vs. man made law.

As a matter of course, mala in se crimes violate Natural Law and mala prohibitum crimes violate man made law.

It seems many of our political discussions and other divisive issues split along people who view certain activities as inherently wrong vs. wrong because I say so.

Issues of abortion, gay marriage, illegal immigration, modesty, pornography, alcohol regulation, economic regulation, environmentalism, and other hot-button issues come down to philosophical judgments about whether a given behavior is inherently wrong or not.

If one group believes abortion is murder, then they also believe it is inherently wrong and that judgment comes all of the emotional baggage of moral outrage.  They will never stop trying to restrict abortion because it is seen as an inherently evil act [unless there is a sufficient justification].

Many people are outraged at illegal immigration because they believe it is inherently wrong to be here improperly when it really is a matter of regulation.

Some activities are inherently wrong but are being treated as regulatory wrongs.

Much of the anger and outrage and failure to see eye to eye on things stems from a fundamental difference of moral values.

If we want a better nation and better laws, we need better people making better decisions.

How do you view the issues?  Is there a right and wrong?  Should we be permissive of every behavior or get serious about having a moral society?

Comments Welcome