Four: We believe in personal freedom, in a free society, if it harms no one.
(Related concepts are freedom of religion/separation of church and state (where religions are free to teach
moral systems that are not prescribed by law--look for a future article that shows how this concept was
taught and practiced by Jesus of Nazareth); the concept "if it harms none, do as you will;" and the belief
in the absurdity of consensual crimes in a free society (see the book Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do:
The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in Our Free Country by Peter McWilliams).
An oppressive secular state declares harmless acts of freedom to be crimes in the interest
of the state and its control over the individual. A religiously oppressive society makes
such declarations in the interest of its own religious and moral system and its control
over the individual. But why would a free society do this?
And what is a "victimless crime?" A victimless crime is an act considered illegal in which
there is no victim nor reasonable likelihood of a victim. Admittedly, the distinction of
victim is not always easy to pin down--if a person ingests drugs (including alcohol) to
the point where e is no longer aware of es actions and then drives a car down a busy
street, that is an action where there is a reasonable chance of a victim. But what if e
drinks one beer and es motor coordination is 98% of full? Or 95%?
However, many of the “victimless crimes” involve illegal acts in which the violation lies
in breaking a moral standard that is not universally recognized. Forbidding all religions
but one narrowly defined sect, or not allowing members of the public to peacefully share
their opinions, for example. So in these cases, one may ask, is anyone truly being
victimized or harmed? “If it harms none, do what you will.” This idea combines the
concepts of personal freedom “do who you will” with the concept of individual
responsibility to others “if it harms none.”
Some crimes, of course, are clearly not victimless. For an obvious example of a non-
victimless act, consider homicide. Virtually every society and religion considers killing
another human being without just cause to be wrong. Even though the definition of "just
cause" varies, there is clearly a victim. Even if the killing was in self-defense, was
morally and legally justified in that society, someone's life was still taken. Therefore
homicide would not be considered a victimless crime--either it is a crime or it's not, but
someone was still killed.
But what about a well-educated and informed woman in good standing voting in public
affairs? Or a loving, responsible and honorable black man caring for his own family? Or
a married couple making love with each other in the privacy of their home in more than
one physical position? All of these have been crimes at some time or in some place. In
fact, they have all been illegal in some or all of the United States of America. Many
people in the modern world would consider these victimless crimes. In fact, they might
believe those punished for breaking the law to be the victims.
Admittedly, the definition of a victimless crime can vary. Most societies would not see a
crime being committed every time someone spoke a person's real name. But in a society
where it is believed that demons are hanging around waiting to hear your real name in
order to have power over you and torment you, speaking your true name would not be
considered victimless. And driving on the right side of the road is the legally accepted
method in some countries, but recklessly dangerous in countries where people always
drive on the left side of the road. Again, this may well not be victimless, and could quite
possibly harm or even kill someone.
But in general, we believe that acts which do not cause harm should not be illegal in a
Note: We use terms such as "e, em, emself, etc." These are genderless pronouns. Instead
of "he" or "she," we use "e." Instead of "him" or "her," we use "em," and for "his" or
her, we use "es." Instead of himself or herself, we use "emself." These terms are easy to
say, and much less awkward than the alternative "h/she or "(s)he" forms sometimes used.
Five Basic Beliefs
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