Morality is one of those subjective things that always tends to give people fits. As groups, people can generally come together to define actions they consider immoral, unjust, and illegal. Sometimes these definitions flow from one or a few individuals who hold power over society. Sometimes, these definitions flow from the masses themselves.
Ultimately though, the morality of the masses is not always the morality of the individual. And in many cases, the individual may find themselves chaffing at being bound by the morality of the masses.
Recently, on Gods & Radicals, two such articles have appeared by people who chafe at the morality forced upon them by the masses: Rhyd, who decided to talk about the Violence of Liberal Democracies. And Dr. Bones, who decided to expound upon the virtues of a criminal life.
In both posts, Rhyd and Bones speak and reference quotes making a great deal about the injustice that is society and other people looking down upon, and even using force, to prevent such things as theft, murder, revenge killings, the burning and razing of homes and lands, and so forth.
If you kill someone, or assault them, or take their property, or raze their house and burn their fields, you have used violence illegally, regardless of your reasons. The victim in this case may have been someone who slaughtered your family and poisoned your water and raped you: regardless of that, you have used violence illegitimately, and if caught will be subject to state violence. Only the State is allowed to do such things within Liberal Democracy.” -Rhyd Wildermuth, The State of Violence. 2016
I could easily conjecture about the mental states of both men, who act as if they are the ultimate in victims because people dare make laws which insist that murder, theft, and other behaviors we have deemed as “Crimes” be not enacted by any person wishing to exist within our society. But such conjectures would be largely pointless at this point.
Rhyd’s entire post reads like a vain attempt to insist that a State has no authority or right to dictate behavior and legislate what actions are and are not lawful. Despite the fact that such is one of the express purposes of a State’s existence. Bones flat out advocates for people to live criminal lives doing criminal acts, even going so far as to give personal examples of crimes (mainly theft) which he has done, glorify them, and justify them.
Was I a criminal in that bookstore, a no good rotten thief? Yes, yes I was. Was I also liberating knowledge and getting it into the hands of kids who felt lost and adrift in a cookie-cutter theology? Absolutely. All these things and more are very true, shades of infinite grey in defiance of a monotheistic black and white interpretation. To be outside the law, to live the Sporting Life, is to allow no other agency other than yourself define you and your actions, to refuse the straitjacket concepts of “good” and “bad” so empty they can be filled with anything; everything Hitler did was perfectly legal, and every slave revolt on the North American continent in defiance of the law. Do you answer to a higher power, Comrade? – Dr. Bones, The Magic of Crime. 2016
Both try to paint the situation of one where the State or Society is oppressive, dictating what actions can and cannot be done. Bones even uses the example that things we consider morally abhorrent were legal, and actions we not consider just were illegal. Working as they can to pain the Law as Immoral, and Crime as the only moral option in the face of an Immoral Law.
Except that the Law was not, and never should be, about morality. In most cases, where the law enters the realm of enforcing the moral is where laws tend to go horribly wrong. One need only look at Prohibition to have a perfect example of that. The truth is, Law is about an agreement between people to control their actions as a society.
Rhyd complains that he cannot take vengeance against someone because of some wrong they did him. He acts as if this is some unjust act. Because he apparently fails to understand that he does not have that right…so that no one else has that right against him.
Just as Rhyd likely imagines having righteous vengeance and burning the lands and homes of the “rich, property owners who leave so many homeless,” I can assure him that many in the Pagan realms would gladly take his head for the campaigns of violence, defamation, and hatred he and his writers have enacted on many Pagan paths. After all, Chris Thompson did an entire post about how it was morally justified to use any means to bring about the revolution and to never stop fighting. An outright declaration of unending war and then slandered me when I called him out on it.
Were it not for the laws we have against taking personal vengeance, such an act could only be met with retribution. Indeed, by the ancient Heathen Laws, at this point everyone in Heathenism from McNallen and the AFA to Abell and the Troth would be lawfully bound before the Gods to find those in charge of Gods & Radicals and Patheos and deliver unto them a holy vengeance. Thankfully, all involved are obeying the present laws of the nation in which we largely reside…and have not fulfilled that most ancient of rites.
Ultimately, I’m left with the conclusion that neither Rhyd nor Bones has in fact ever experienced true violence or had crimes committed against them. After all, as they both stamp their feet and scream about how “oppressive” it is that the behavior they want to do are banned by society, they seem completely oblivious to the Sword of Damocles that hangs over their heads.
The thing is, there’s all kinds of Laws out there. I’m a deus of Law, so I seek to abide by the laws of the nation I am in, because as a font of divine energy bound to such a thing it is easiest to do so in that manner. That being said, I am a Deus of Law, and I can legislate morality and legality. I read Nietzsche, I know all about the Ubermench who legislates his own morality. There’s a reason Hela and the other Norse Gods trusted me with this position. For now, I respect the laws against taking personal vengeance. But there were laws about taking personal vengeance and those are within the domain that I am tied to by very existence.
And Laws Change. Hel, this coming election is all about how the laws might change. It could well be that Rhyd and Bones get exactly what they’re asking for. For the disillusion of the state, for the removal of the “laws which oppress them.” And I’ll be honest…
It wouldn’t bother me a single bit.
Because I’m the God of Retribution too. Hela likes to describe me as a Norse version of Nemesis. And if you know anything about that Goddess, and how she related to Greek and Roman culture, and then think about the differences between Romanic and Germanic cultures…
I’m tied to the deific powers of Vengeance and Justice for a people who have been very much wronged by G&R and its community. I wouldn’t even have to raise a hand beyond legislating that in this new world my people were free to follow their ancient Laws. I know from conversations that Tyr is of the same mind.
The Sword of Damocles hangs by the single hair of a horse.
Though I am not much a fan of the Christ God, I suppose there is a moment when even his words are appropriate council to the likes of Rhyd and Bones.
“Help us to forgive other their trespasses, even as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
We forgive so that we might be forgiven. We stay our hands so that other hands might be stayed. We respect what others possess so that they will respect what we possess. We give peace and liberty to others, so that we might have peace and liberty ourselves.
And yes, sometimes, that means we don’t always get what is best in life. It means we do not get to crush our enemies, see them driven before us, and to hear the lamentations of their women. But it also means that we are not crushed by our enemies, we are not driven before them, and they do not hear the lamentations of our women.
But hey, if it happens…I suppose there’s always tasting what is best in life.