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Freedom and Virtue

Screen Shot 2013-06-23 at 4.19.18 PMBy Mike S. Adams
Clash Daily Guest Contributor

My ex-friend Sara is a libertarian. She’s also spitting mad about my support of a recent legislative effort that would make divorce more difficult in the State of North Carolina. Her confusion reminds me of the many reasons why I call myself a conservative and not a libertarian. Before I get ahead of myself, let me say a few words about the effort to change the divorce laws here in the Tar Heel State.

For years, North Carolina has required those seeking a divorce to separate for a period of one year. Recently, Republicans proposed legislation that would change the law in three significant ways:

1. First off, those seeking divorce would no longer have to separate from their spouses in order to initiate the divorce process. Instead, they would simply have to send the spouse a registered letter informing her or him of the intention to initiate the proceedings.
2. Furthermore, rather than setting up separate residences, the spouses would have to seek marital counseling.
3. Finally, the divorce process would be extended from one year (post-separation) to two years (post-notification letter).

Sara should have no problem with the first two changes that compel action on behalf of the dis-satisfied party. It is true that the government is making the individual write a letter and seek counseling. But that is a substitution for the previous requirement that they actually pack up all of their belongings and move to another location. In other words, the new law would actually compel them to do less than they would have had to do under the old law.

So far, none of this should be a problem for the libertarian who doesn’t like to use the government to compel citizens to act against their own will – even if it just means taking two seconds to buckle a seatbelt in order to protect themselves and others from harm. (I’ll explain how seatbelt laws protect others in a separate column).

The first two changes in the law are also good news for conservatives who see marriage as an institution that is good and is therefore worth preserving. The idea that the government would drive a wedge between people and force them apart when they most need to be talking is a bad one. Forced separation does more than just restrict freedom by telling someone he can no longer live in his own home for a year prior to the divorce. It also makes it more difficult for him to communicate with his spouse. This means more marriages are discarded when they are broken, which is truly unfortunate. If they are inherently valuable, then marriages are to be repaired whenever possible.

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Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don’t Understand.