Letter: Can’t force neighborliness | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Can’t force neighborliness

I applaud Tom Mooney for wanting Americans to be charitable (“In My Village,” Letters to the editor, The Aspen Times, April 10). But his letter opposing the Indiana law confuses the issue. The law does not forbid charity. Nor will its repeal, or revision, affect anyone’s actual love of neighbor.

The law does not allow discrimination against homosexual people. It doesn’t even let bakers out of gay weddings. It simply provides that people may plead before a judge when the government forces them to act against their consciences.

Mooney is quick to judge folks who don’t think like he does on gay marriage. He implies that all are just bigots. I get no sense from his letter that the highly charged question — touching the essences of sex, love, marriage, procreation and family and thus eternally consequential and extraordinarily complex — has any but the simplest answer.

Worse, he expresses no qualm about the government’s heavy hand. In Mooney’s village, it seems, it is best not to think too deeply or hold genuine convictions. Agree or else. Get in line when called upon to march in step.

I have to ask, is this charity?

I do not wish to argue against true love, however shared or not. But Melanie Sturm was right about the place of government (“Applying Lincoln to our culture’s civil wars,” Commentary, The Aspen Times, April 8). Yes, let us forbid specific acts of discrimination. But how far to empower the charity police will always be an open-ended question.

Meanwhile, who can’t dream up a village? In my village, every individual associates as he pleases and is absent if he likes. No law can stop him either way or force him. No court can punish him merely for skipping other people’s private functions. No one has to plead before a judge for his right of free expression. Nor do charitable neighbors demand such conformity.

But I will not pretend that to harmonize freedom and justice has ever been this simple. I concur with Mooney that charity, too, is needed. Yet I insist that you cannot force genuine fellow-feeling. While necessary to justice, it is impossible without freedom.

“May we live in peace,” Mooney says. And so we shall, when charitable people respect everyone’s freedom of speech, conscience and association.

Chris King


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