"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly,
while bad people will find a way around the laws."
(429-347 BC) Greek philosopher
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 -- Anonymous      
Plato understood the REAL meaning and use of 'morality' - Not the government forced coercion that most athiests claim morality to be, but the inward need of moral values and virtues in the heart of every individual. Pre-emptive laws only make honest people honest - it does nothing to deter crime. A criminal has no inward 'morality' that governs his actions; hence, the need for jails and prisons - to take law breakers out of society because they cannot control their actions and are a danger to society. Criminal's break the law with no thought TO the law - how do you control such people? You can't - that is, without personally restraining him and taking him out of society. This establishes Plato's thought: "Good people" have a certain inward law or code (morality) within themselves that make them able to be self governing, regardless of any outward law - "Bad people", on the other hand, have no 'code' or inward set of 'values' (morality) and need the forcible structure of the law.
 -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
    Criminals don't and never will register their guns, while law abiding citizens do. What good is infringement of our rights, when criminals don't care? Good people are then disadvantaged, while criminals are GIVEN an advantage. When a criminals breaks into my home at 3 a.m. carrying a machinegun with 100 rounds, am I supposed to say "hey, you can't have that" as he shoots me dead? I should be able to legally own a machinegun with 100 rounds if that's the way I choose to defend my life.
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
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     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US      
    Joe...You should be permitted to own any gun you choose, according to the principle of deterrence against potential tyranny in government, which was promoted by the writers of the Second Amendment. The people cannot establish a deterrence against government incursion into tyranny, while automatic assault weapons are in the hands of the military, but not in the hands of the people.
     -- David L. Rosenthal , Hollywood     
    Five stars for general sentiment. The trouble with this quote (in English) is the use of the words 'good' and 'bad', both of which are awful ('bad' - LOL) words. These words persistently and insidiously avoid the fact that they are both evaluative, subjective, and indistinct (nebulous) in their application. I mean, few seem willing to admit that what they call 'good' is simply what they 'like' or that what they call 'bad' is simply what they 'dislike'. Logan; Plato isn't addressing 'morality'. Plato is addressing 'responsible ACTION' ("... act responsibly") in relation to laws and the observance of laws. - It would be illuminating if you were to provide some insight into just EXACTLY how you've arrived at your assertion that 'most atheists claim morality is government forced coercion' ("... - the government forced coercion that most athiests claim morality to be, ..."). Your assertion makes me wonder how many atheists you know or if you know any at all, let alone whether you have any idea what 'most' atheists 'claim'. Perhaps you have some writings by atheists to back up your assertions. I'd be fascinated to read them. I'd side with Madalyn Murray O'Hair: "An Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An Atheist believes that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An Atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanished, war eliminated."
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
    The argument here is simply mis-applied definition - 'Morality' as defined in early Judeo-Christian writings was the source of all desire towards action. Sure, there needs to be actions, but towards what? A Boy Scout may be praised for helping an old lady across the road (action) but it is the inward 'morality' factor that says whether or not he will rob her or simply shake her hand when they are safely on the other side. You speak of Madalyn Murray O'Hair - how appropriate - her son wrote of her, "My mother was an evil person ... Not for removing prayer from America’s schools ... No ... She was just evil. She stole huge amounts of money. She misused the trust of people. She cheated children out of their parents’ inheritance. She cheated on her taxes and even stole from her own organizations. She once printed up phony stock certificates on her own printing press to try to take over another atheist publishing company. I could go on but I won’t. All the money my mother made in this manner stayed behind. It did not go with her." This is but one proof that Atheism has no 'moral' code... Actions? Perhaps - but towards what? Madalyn Murray O'Hair is the perfect example of atheist action - hospitals should be built instead of flagrent prayers? Absolutely! But at what cost? Philosophically, religiously, politically, or historically - in order for society to stand, a certain 'moral code' needs to exist within the hearts of the people - a 'code' that says something is right or something is wrong.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
    The nanny-State guarantees submission and irresponsibility. It transforms the People into chattel property. We must be free -- we have no choice. ;-)
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    Logan; You'll recall I started out my post with the idea of general sentiment. The 'family' (I use the term loosely for this particular 'non-relationship') dynamics, between Madalyn Murray O'Hair and her son William, are my idea of hell. She was coarse, abrasive, unforgiving, hypercritical, and zealous in her pursuit of giving Christianity a bad name (having failed to grasp that it needs no help whatsoever on that count - LOL) - a bit like Pat Robertson is in vilifying non-Christians. Zealotry of any ilk seems to have limited usefulness in most debates. She was clearly NOT happy with the fact that on Mother's Day 1980, her oldest son William came flouncing out of the closet revealing to the world not only that he believed in God, but that he himself was a diehard, evangelical, salary tithing, gospel singing bible-thumping Christian Baptist. (source: rotten.com). She responded by disowning him - not exactly the response of a tolerant person nor that of a typical mother nor is it admirable. William's resentment and inclination to strike back is clearly understandable in view of her dominating posture towards him. I've not been able to find any evidence to support your contentions that "She misused the trust of people. She cheated children out of their parents■ inheritance. She cheated on her taxes and even stole from her own organizations. She once printed up phony stock certificates on her own printing press to try to take over another atheist publishing company." I'd love to see the documentation supporting these assertions. Perhaps you could supply them. What I HAVE found is a detailing of the involvement of David R. Waters (a typesetter in AA's printing department [suspicious] with a long rap sheet) and two accomplices, Gary Karr and Danny Fry, in the theft of funds from AA (Austin Police Department, Offense #94-0991028 which was not followed up on by the authorities in the way that a church theft would have been), as well as the kidnapping and murder of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Jon Garth Murray, and Robin Murray O'Hair sometime around late September of 1995. Waters was convicted of contributing to the disappearance of the O'Hairs, and sentenced to 20 years in prison for extortion. Waters died of lung cancer in January of 2003 in a federal prison hospital in North Carolina. Danny Fry's headless and handless corpse was found in 1995 on a Dallas County river bank. The FBI's affidavit contained allegations from an Internal Revenue Service agent that former American Atheists office manager David R. Waters plotted to steal $600,000 from O'Hair's "United Secularists of America" organization. The affidavit also alleged that Waters "expressed fantasies of killing Madalyn." The treatment of the entire affair, quite frankly, reeks of an all too typical 'Christian' underhandedness when dismissing 'non-Christians' as not 'moral' enough to merit 'equal protection under the law'. You might not 'like' a person like Madalyn Murray O'Hair but the SENTIMENT of her quote holds up quite nicely. If you place 'morality' above hospitals it announces clearly what kind of 'morality' you subscribe to.
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
    Plato had it right...how prescient he was...human nature doesn't change. Even our pols - nay, especially our pols - find their ways around laws: even the president.
     -- A.Jurgensen, Stuart, FL     
    Ah, the fundamentals of anarchy :-)
     -- Anonymous     
    If good people were needed to be responsible, they would not have to be told what to do because it is pure common sense, they take responsible actions. People are considered 'bad' because of laws. In order to be bad, one must break a law. In fact the people being called 'good' have an unfair disadvantage with the law. As the 'bad' people with no morals do whatever they want with their likings. Who is to say what is good or bad? Laws are created to protect. To protect what though? Laws can be wrong. An innocent man may be accused because someone thought, because of his morals, he had done wrong. When in reality he meant right. No one is good or bad until we have a set of standards to follow.
     -- C. Vazquez, Chicago, IL     
    Joe... seriously, what are the odds of that actually happening?
     -- Anonymous     
    I do not think that there are some people who are just good and others are bad however we all have what we call positive and negative sites, strengths and weakness. Patrick Lonkoy Bolengu DR Congo.
     -- Patrick Lonkoy Bolengu, Basankusu     
    I'm with those that reference some aspect of the subjectivity of good or bad. It has been my experience that when one person calls another person "good" - that simply means the good person is less violent than ? ;-) If good is used here as a responsibility characterization (character, moral, ethics, etc.) of obedience to law - that natural law to which there is no immediate response by justice (larceny, murder, prevarication, etc.) then here there is no confusion and the statement stands absolute. Bad people would then be those of force (lacking personal responsibility), finding ways round the laws (or natural law); by way of example: bad people would act as gods in legislating, adjudicating and enforcing compelled compliance, license, victimless crimes, larceny with impunity (property / income / life-insurances taxes, funny money, etc.) non-allodial freehold / anti-perfected and absolute ownership without threat of confiscation, and that all rights (such as marriage) derive from the god's priesthood (man's carnal government).
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    My guess: Plato's observation's translation in today's parlance:
    "It is what it is."

    -- all the rest is definition, allegation, obfuscation.

    But -- as is the case in nearly every case -- I / you / we -- could be wrong .. er .. incorrect .. er .. unlawful .. er .. immoral ....
     -- Bob Leavitt, Charlotte, VT     
    Well said Logan, Plato has a saying amongst those that are blind, Eu a Mousoi , happily without the muses.
    God tells us that he frustrates the tokens of liars. Plato would have known this also. Evil pursues a violent man.
     -- Ron w13, Or     
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