Wednesday, September 27, 2006


A moral society

There is a moral concept I first encountered in explicit form in Frank Herbert's Dune. I don't have the exact quote handy, so I'll have to paraphrase on my own.

A society, and by extension the members of that society who are present for local, individual incidents, is responsible for the care and protection of its members who are socially incompetent.

This description is intended without prejudice. It includes those who are not yet competent (children, immigrants) and those who will never be competent (mentally ill, developmentally deficient). This moral concept prompts two logical outcomes.

1) When a social incompetent commits a crime, punishment should be that which corrects the incompetence, and removal from any further opportunity to commit that crime in order to protect the rest of society.

2) A socially competent person who commits a crime falls under two general categories: sie made a mistake (crime of passion, ignorance of the law); sie made a deliberate decision to take the action that constitutes a crime. We may not need to punish differently in each case, but we do need to acknowledge that distinction, and treat the willful criminal as sie deserves: no longer welcome in our society, period.

A hallmark of civilization is, using this moral concept as a starting point and in my not so humble opinion, the effort made to acknowledge the nuances of this morality and to permit case-by-case application of that morality. Thus, blanket approaches, laws that exclude leeway or flexibility in their enforcement, and the more general existence of bigotry, all of that I would consider immoral.

For example, a society that claims to be civilized will acknowledge the breaking of a law with the intention of pointing out its immorality. The segregation laws that were abolished by the civil rights movement fall into this category. Civil disobedience in service to the moral protection of those who cannot protect themselves is of the highest moral attainment.

Hey Franklin,

I didn't know your email adress, so thought I would put this here.

"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."

I believe it was Mark Twain, but could be mistaken. If you like quotes, check out, one of the best quote sites I have seen.


By the way, interesting page, Pagan covers a lot of ground, though. I'm curious which pagan/new age believes you hold?
My memory of the quote was age 17 and four years, but as you obviously know when we get to this age we... what was I talking about?


I'm what we (pagans) call a solitary eclectic. I have no group affiliations, but some affinities.

Most pagans will bend your ear for an hour answering the "what flavor are you" question, so I'll just start you off with:

I hold to the Gaia concept, the planet as organism, and sentient as well. The rest is semantics, symbolism, and a strong dose of what Jung called the collective unconscious.
Oh, and you are welcome in my inbox at
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