Let’s Stop Calling Them “Social Issues”

March 10, 2011   |  
Let's Stop Calling Them "Social Issues"
Let's Stop Calling Them "Social Issues"

I’d like to make a modest proposal when it comes to the things that we call “social issues”. Some of the political issues which come under that banner are things like gay marriage, abortion, personal drug use, development and consumption of pornographic and violent media, promotion of a specific political viewpoints etc. I think you know what I’m talking about: its basically the issues that truly keep libertarians, Tea Partiers and conservatives from uniting. We have those who believe in “social freedom” and those who believe in “social conservatism”. For the purposes of this article, I’m not leaning in either direction. However I do have something to say about the naming and involvement in either of those.

Simply put: most of these issues are not really “social”, they do not truly affect the society at large, they are largely ‘”personal”. For example, if a same sex couple wishes to marry and live together down the street, it does not affect the rest of the neighborhood or society. Thus gay marriage is not a “social issue”, it is a “personal issue”. The same goes for personal drug, pornography, violent media consumption or political beliefs: all of these are “personally” consumed, not socially consumed. If someone the next block over wishes to play a violent video game, or indulge in  a recreational drug, be it marijuana or alcohol, it is that person, not the society, which is affected. Unless there is a socialized health care system where everyone has a financial stake in the health of everyone around us, then I don’t really care how many beers someone has, as long as they don’t jump into a car drunk and do some damage to others. But we already have laws for that.

Health care and abortion can be argued are the most “personal” of the social issues discussed. The decisions regarding either of these issues should be restricted to the immediate family and trusted health care providers. The state, and the rest of society, really have little say in the matter. Just as if you wouldn’t want anyone else other than yourself and your immediate family to make decisions about your health, you shouldn’t expect to make decisions regarding others health.

So here is my modest proposal: instead of calling these “social issues” lets try calling them “personal issues” which is, in reality, closer to what they really and truly are. So think about it: the next time you talk about the “social issue” of gay marriage, think of it as a “personal issue”. If you think of it as a personal issue as opposed to a social issue, then you have to see how meddling in peoples personal issues is not right. In the same way you wouldn’t want people poking their noses into your personal issues, you should not expect to have the ability, either directly or via that state, to poke your nose into theirs.

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