If you're a liberal (in the sense in which "liberal" is used in modern-day America -- as Barack Obama put it, someone whose views on most issues "correspond more closely to the editorial pages of the New York Times than those of the Wall Street Journal"), then you can't believe that an omission -- a failure to act -- is morally excusable simply on the grounds of "Hey, I wasn't really 'doing' anything."
The thing is, if omissions were excusable, then there would be no moral force to drive liberal policies. If the government isn't culpable for the problems it fails to solve -- the things it lets happen -- then it doesn't make sense to make an impassioned moral appeal that the government must implement such-and-such a policy to end poverty, protect our children from pollution, etc. If you thought the government could be excused for the things it passively allows to occur with a glib dismissal -- "Look, that may be unfortunate, but it's not the government's responsibility" -- then you'd be a conservative, not a liberal.
May 13, 2008
"Liberals, of all people, should avoid making the passive/active distinction [and] support the death penalty..."
... if it's really true — and it seems to be — that executions save lives. Jac explains: