While we believe all sorts of lies, many of them are benign. Our willingness to buy into these lies is dependent on our biases. If I believe my life is tough here in the U.S., no amount of truth about how privileged I am is likely to wake me from that delusion. I’ll wait until a lie comes along to confirm my preconceived notion.
Eventually, it will.
One of my favorite lies could easily be considered merely an ignorant belief:
You can’t legislate morality.
People spout this one whenever there is a move to outlaw some undesirable (to the proponent of such a restriction) behavior. The motives are clear. If I say that you can’t legislate morality, I have removed your basis for making a claim. Argue all you want about the desirability of such a restriction. It doesn’t matter if you make your case because you can’t legislate morality. It’s a way of eliminating dialog, a favorite activity in today’s political climate.
The problem is that you can legislate morality. In fact, you can hardly legislate anything else. Laws by nature codify morality of some kind, whether it’s the ten commandments or the Magna Carta. The point is that they each regulate behavior, from the heinous to the mundane.
Don’t kill people.
Don’t run red lights.
Pay your taxes.
No matter what you want to think, those are all moral restrictions. You might not like some of those laws, but they all define a certain moral position regarding the value of human life, the importance of safety, or redistribution of wealth.
Also, each restricts freedom to some extent. Someone has made a decision that obedience to a given law outweighs the freedom to defy it. Someone has legislated morality. Is it worth it? That’s where the dialog begins, but it doesn’t end when some deluded person decrees that you can’t legislate morality.