Sunday, 1 May 2011

From bikinis to gay rights, there are real costs of not supporting civil liberties

When it comes to economic matters, data and logic really are king.  But social attitudes are not so cut and dry.  I've spent the last few days researching data to support some thoughts on social liberalism, and then had an epiphany - not every comment needs to be supported by statistics!  Instead, the issue of social liberties comes down to a philosophical debate between two sides.

In the red corner - those of us who believe that adults should be permitted to act in whatever way they want, providing it doesn't cause any harm to person or property.
In the blue corner - those who believe that adults cannot be trusted to make good (or moral?) decisions, and need to be "protected" by the imposition of a set of rules by "society".

Of course there are an unlimited supply of examples that bring this debate to a head, so let's look at a couple of them, from the sublime to the ridiculous:

Wearing bikinis:
In the red corner, we say, if you want to wear a bikini, wear a bikini.
In the blue corner - well, it depends on what year it is, and where you are. Throughout history, the bikini has been acceptable, then unacceptable, then acceptable again.

Villa Romana del Casale, Sicily.
Source: Wikipedia

In 2006, in Kanab, in the US state of Utah, Council passed a ban on bikinis at the city pool, which was overturned in 2008.  The Kuwaitis rejected a motion to ban the bikini just this year, but in the neighbouring Saudi Arabia, no way.

Kuwaiti parliament rejects ban on bikinis

So, just for the moment, let's consider the blue corner has a point (which I don't accept of course), and this bikini ban is in some way a good decision for women.  Why should that decision vary from year to year, and even from State to State and country to country?  It's surely nonsensical.

Sex between consenting adults of the same sex:
In the red corner, we say, if you want to have sex, enjoy yourself.
In the blue corner - this is one of those issues where the wrath of God has been invoked against sin.  But of course, society's attitudes have differed over the centuries.  To the ancient Greeks, no problem.  To the Abrahamic religions, it is a sin.  For the Chinese, over most of its history, homosexuality has been OK.

When it comes to homosexuality, the battle isn't just theoretical.  Societies over the years have demonised and proscribed homosexuality, with 76 countries still criminalizing consenting sexual acts between people of the same sex.  4,000 people have been executed in Iran since 1979 for homosexual acts.

You see, when it comes to being socially liberal, there are real consequences. The costs of imposing rules on people, where no person is being harmed are very, very high.

Let me know what you think

Mark S

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more. And double points for choosing Allesandra Ambrosio as your bikini model... it takes a discening eye.