Doing the Right Thing
Yesterday I was listening to a radio talk show host discuss immigration. He pointed out that a lot of illegal immigrants are hired by home owners to do casual labor. He then asked his listeners to imagine they had a grand piano to move, an illegal would do it for $40, and an American citizen, perhaps the kid next door, for $100. Would the listener save money by hiring the illegal or do the right thing by hiring the citizen?
My response, if I had been able to get through, would have been that I would have done the right thing—by hiring the illegal, who almost certainly has more need for the money than the kid next door.
Unless I missed it, the sole argument that the host offered for his unstated assumption that hiring the kid was obviously the right thing was that hiring the illegal immigrant was illegal. My response would be to ask the host if he ever drove faster than the speed limit and if he tasted wine or beer before he reached the legal drinking age. If his answer to both questions was "no," he is in a very small minority of Americans.
If it was "yes," as I expect it would have been, I would next have asked how he would defend himself against the charge of hypocrisy.
In the America I live in, despite political rhetoric to the contrary, most people believe in obeying laws selectively–ignoring the ones they think are foolish or wicked except when the risk of getting caught makes it more prudent to obey.
When I told the story to my wife, she offered another question to put to the host. It is 1855, the fugitive slave law is the law of the land. Do you help with the underground railway or do you do "the right thing" and turn in any escaped slaves who come your way?