Friday, 1 June 2007

My Right to Die - The Debatable Morality of Law

A man who was jailed for assisting in the suicide of over 130 people was released today, read the whole article on CNN here.

One of my mates was shocked that he was released after only eight years even though he still believes that what he did was right. In the discussion of it we touched on the idea that laws are based on what the community believes is wrong. It's illegal to steal things because the majority of people believe it's wrong, and also because it's detrimental for society, it undermines security and progression which we believe to be good things. But overall it's illegal simply because the majority of people think it's wrong.

So if our laws are based on what the majority of people think is wrong then surely the larger the minority who think that something is acceptable the smaller the sentence should be. It means that, at least in the eyes on the public, its morality is debatable, even if there are few individuals who are not certain of its morality or immorality. If its morality is debatable then it is a less serious moral breach and so should be a less serious crime. This only seems logical. Therefore, because assisted suicide is such a contested law (it is legal in Oregon) there is good reason for such a short sentence.

Disagree? Let me know.

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