Not enough self-respect

You knew Theodore Dalrymple would have his say on the personal expenses scandal engulfing the British parliament. In a piece for the Social Affairs Unit, he argues that the scandal uncovers some important premises of modern morality, namely “the implicit idea that if something is legally permissible, it is morally permissible and cannot be reprehensible”.

I’ve recently realized that there are fewer phrases more frustrating to me than, “There’s no law against it”. That statement is essentially a rejection of the possibility or desirability of human freedom.

4 thoughts on “Not enough self-respect

  1. Samuel Smith

    Sounds like the warning Solzhenitsyn gave the West in his 1978 Commencement speech at Harvard. Great read.

  2. john malpas

    Someone authoritative (whom I cannot recall) once said that the law was a causeway and if you did not stray from it you should have no fear.
    Or something like that.

  3. Steve

    It looks like it was spoken by Sir Thomas More in Robert Bolt’s screenplay for A Man for All Seasons:

    “The law is not a ‘light’ for you or any man to see by; the law is not an instrument of any kind. The law is a causeway upon which, so long as he keeps to it, a citizen may walk safely.”

    With regard to the parliamentary expenses scandal, since the MP’s were within the law, flawed though it might have been and in spite of the fact that they made it, I would think Bolt’s line would argue against their prosecution but not against their removal from office during the next election.


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