We spend considerable time at the Muslim Skeptic discussing the problems of various aspects of liberal society and how they are increasingly breaking down.
At the heart of these problems lies one basic idea:
“People will engage in bad behavior anyway, so to have some kind of control over this, we will allow the behavior and regulate it.”
(After that comes efforts to see how this behavior is actually nuanced and interesting to critically analyze, unpack, and teach at the university level; pushing this all on the public.)
The “they’re-going-to-do-it-anyways” argument is beyond the basic idea of the liberal notion of “to each his own.” It’s essentially going a step further, legalizing the behavior, regulating it, and then eventually celebrating it.
The general idea is to keep potentially harmful effects of the activity at bay. You don’t want women dying from back-alley abortions? Then allow them to be performed by doctors in all cases.
You want women to be safe while making porn? Then allow it and regulate it. Porn will be made and consumed anyway.
You don’t want people dying of heroin? Then allow it and regulate its purity level. Heroin will be produced and consumed anyway.
There’s already cause for concern as many US Muslims have increasingly somehow resigned themselves to accept gay marriage, which as we know wasn’t without help from Muslim public figures.
So what cause is next since we know that some Muslim public figures either support or are “OK” with abortion and marijuana legalization?
Legalize marijuana nationwide.
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) March 25, 2021
I tell people of faith all the time, including Muslims, that this debate is not in fact about abortion, it’s about whether the government should have the power to dictate a woman’s health choices. Regardless of your position on abortion, this should be of great concern.
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) May 3, 2022
To fight against this seemingly innocent argument, let’s dive into two serious societal concerns affected by it: abortion and drugs.
While the pro-choice and pro-abortion camp have typically argued this as a right-to-privacy issue, it’s not uncommon to hear the following in the wake of the news that Roe has been overturned: we’re going to see an increase in unsafe abortions.
1. Abortion is a fact. Millions end their pregnancies each year.
2. Criminalising abortion doesn’t prevent abortion. It just makes them illegal + unsafe.
3. Unsafe abortions are a leading, but preventable, cause for maternal deaths.
— Terry Reintke (@TerryReintke) June 9, 2022
“When a woman or girl is determined to end her pregnancy she will do so, regardless of the safety and legality of the procedure. Where safe abortion care is not available, she will risk her life with an unsafe abortion, often because the prospect of continuing the pregnancy is unbearable.”
This is a tempting argument, in large part because there’s truth in it. Making something illegal doesn’t stop it from happening altogether.
But there’s a problem. There are people all over the world who engage in dangerous behaviors, all the time, in conservative and liberal societies. They may not be the majority, but following this line of argument, their existence alone is reason enough to find ways and reasons to allow their behavior.
Also, as a quick aside, liberals argue that the main problem they have is people who want to control women’s bodies. This argument however ignores the fact that at least in the US, conservatives tend to be for small government. On top of that, and to repeat, most abortions in the US are not had by people in desperate situations.
A new report from the Guttmacher Institute, whose abortion reports are thought to be some of the more reliable, shows that from 2017-2020, abortions increased, with around one in five pregnancies ending in abortion.
That, of course, brought forth this argument:
“The number of women obtaining abortions illustrates a need and ‘underscores just how devastating a Supreme Court decision is going to be for access to an absolutely vital service’”
So to summarize this argument: people have abortions, so we need abortion services.
In Illinois, as of 2018, state Medicaid funds can be used to pay for abortions, and the AP reports that between 2017 and 2020, abortions increased by 25%. So there’s—at the least—an argument to make that state-sanctioned, paid-for abortions led to an increase.
Rather than simply avoiding dangerous home abortions, sanctioning abortions increases the number of them, which for the pro-abortion camp is no problem. They’re just liberating women after all.
Here’s Linda Sarsour on abortion in the US:
“What we want you to know is that you can do you — and allow people to still have access to safe, affordable, women’s reproductive rights.”
We can see this as another form of the “they’re going to do it anyways” argument. People will behave how they want to behave.
You do you, and the government will ensure your safety and perhaps even foot the bill; and not try to change or cause you to question your possibly dangerous behavior.
But rather than just do it anyways, condoning behaviors can cause an increase in them. We slip from “they’re going to do it anyways” to “we condone such behaviors” and then to even “we celebrate such behaviors.”
One can see this progression when talking to a Babyboomer who is pro-choice versus a Gen-Zer or Millennial who is pro-abortion. The Babyboomer may say she sees it as a grave decision that some women unfortunately have to make; the Gen-Zer or Millennial will often just see it as a type of birth control that keeps her in control of her body.
Recall again that abortions have increased. Is that simply happenstance or a result of essentially a celebration of this action?
Drugs and Alcohol (or For Us Muslims: Drugs and Other Drugs)
Today, I joined my colleagues in voting to legalize marijuana. It's time to shift away from the racist, so-called War on Drugs. Legalization must come with equity & the repairing of harm that has been caused in Black & brown communities. The MORE Act is a step in that direction. pic.twitter.com/8KNBfj46Q0
— Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (@RepRashida) April 1, 2022
Notice that they did NOT say “decriminalize” marijuana but rather “legalize” marijuana.
Those who’ve had the let’s say ‘average’ American high school experience can probably recall when someone’s parent would say:
Well, these teenagers are going to drink and party anyway, so I may as well provide a safe space for them to do that.
Indeed, some will say they didn’t have that safe space and as a result got themselves in bad situations.
Thing is, there are people who probably would not have experimented with alcohol as teenagers had parents not given them that space. Indeed, they would have had fewer options to do so.
Sure, drug policies in the US have been unfairly harsh to certain groups, but why is the Muslims’ response to this to even the playing field through legalization? Along with towing the party line in order to be re-elected is the underlying idea that people will use drugs anyway.
In a way, how can people be blamed for wanting marijuana to be legal when they can freely consume something that is arguably just as deadly (or perhaps even more so): alcohol.
The legality of alcohol is the paradigm of the “they’re-going-to-do-it-anyways” argument. After all, prohibition “failed” allegedly, right? People found a way to drink anyway, and gangs brought them alcohol. Apparently, prohibition also caused a 10-20% decrease in cirrhosis. Given that the liberal side often argues for health care for all, such a figure would apparently seem important.
Recall too that a major reason for lifting prohibition was the revenue the alcohol industry could bring; money that a Depression-era government wanted:
Thus, the arguments for Repeal [of the 18th Amendment, which instated Prohibition] that seemed to have greatest resonance with voters in 1932 and 1933 centered not on indulgence but on economic recovery. Repeal, it was argued, would replace the tax revenues foregone under Prohibition, thereby allowing governments to provide relief to suffering families. It would put unemployed workers back to work. Prohibitionists had long encouraged voters to believe in a link between Prohibition and prosperity, and after the onset of the Depression they abundantly reaped what they had sown. Voters who had ignored claims that Prohibition excessively centralized power, failed to stop drinking, and fostered crime when they elected the dry Hoover now voted for the wet Franklin Roosevelt. They then turned out to elect delegates pledged to Repeal in the whirlwind series of state conventions that ratified the Twenty-First Amendment. Thus, it was not the stringent nature of National Prohibition, which set a goal that was probably impossible to reach and that thereby foredoomed enforcement, that played the leading role in discrediting alcohol prohibition. Instead, an abrupt and radical shift in context killed Prohibition.
Perhaps programs like needle exchanges are sometimes needed temporarily to solve acute problems like the rapid spread of HIV among intravenous drug users. Still, it would need to be coupled with programs that focus on getting these users off drugs and campaigns that demonstrate to potential users the many harms that come with drug use (like potentially contracting HIV from dirty needles).
All of this would need to be looked upon with respect to a critical question—are we condoning this behavior?
What We Are Losing
In giving into the “people-will-do-this-anyway” argument, we lose a sense of right and wrong by allowing what’s been forbidden. That’s huge.
Muslim public figures have already blurred the lines as to what Muslims fundamentally believe, confusing Muslims and helping to bring forth alliances that ultimately do more harm than good (e.g., LGBTQ/Muslim alliances).
Standing with or standing by on policies that are Islamically wrong is neither helpful to the Ummah nor society as a whole.
We believe in Islam not because it makes us better personally (although that’s also great). We believe in it because it’s the truth. So that means that the laws derived from it would benefit everyone.
The policies that allow the haram middle-of-the-road are not rational policies. Instead they are a surrendering of trying to make it harder for people to destroy their lives, families, and society.
There are no easy answers to these heavy problems that plague society. Sure, those who argue people will do it anyway have a point. Many of them probably will.
“Abu Hurayrah reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) having said: By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if you were not to commit sin, Allah would sweep you out of existence and He would replace (you by) those people who would commit sin and seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would have pardoned them.” Sahih Muslim, Book 37, Number 6622
This is dunya. No one expects restrictions to completely halt a particularly bad behavior; if it were that way, the world could basically eliminate immorality.
But the problem is that those who argue that as a reason to legalize a behavior cannot get beyond that single point. For whatever reason, they don’t want to look at other ways to mitigate the problem…maybe because they too enjoy a joint every now and again, or engage in extra-marital sex, or work in the porn industry.
Sure, you can’t force everyone to behave how you’d like, but society has slipped from allowing behaviors that seem uncontrollable to celebrating them. That is in large part because they allowed them in the first place.
- This excludes discussions of medical cannabis, which sometimes uses the non-psychoactive components of the plant. ↑