In his Jan. 10 letter, John Shirts claims, among other things, that Republicans have tried to legislate morality. I often hear people say that our elected officials should focus on "issues that matter‚" such as health care and taxes, and should avoid meddling with issues of morality.

The reality is that legislation of any kind is inevitably intertwined into deciding right and wrong.

The question then becomes, how is right and wrong determined?

The vast majority of conservatives derive these answers from Judeo-Christian values where morality is absolute. In contrast, those on the Left tend to view morality as relative.

This inevitably leads to confusion [e.g. one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter]. To compensate for this confusion, the Left replaces moral absolutes with legal absolutes. Thus, to determine whether an action is right or wrong, they merely ask themselves, "is it legal?"

Therefore, since law is the ultimate good, a righteous world can only be attained through an increase in legislation.

Often this legislation is aimed at controlling human behaviors. And it's no coincidence that the explosion of laws that have occurred since the 1960's coincides with an increase in secularism.

In other words, as people stop relying on religion for codes of conduct, laws inevitably get stronger. The state expands as religion contracts. This is true for all secular countries [e.g. Western Europe].

So while many on the Left, including some Bulletin readers, claim that the Right is trying to legislate morality, it is actually quite dramatically the opposite.

To the Left, virtually all human problems have a legal solution. A man is harassing a woman at work? Pass laws preventing the "hostile work environment."

Then there is legislation to control what we eat [trans fats bans], what we think [hate crimes], what we say [corporate and university speech codes], what we hear [the Fairness Doctrine] and of course, where we smoke. These are products of leftist legislation and the list goes on.

Unfortunately, the more laws that are passed, the less liberty society enjoys. But for the Left, who elevates values such as compassion, equality and fairness above liberty, this is not a concern.

Tim W. Walz