If we determine that a person is acting in immoral ways, then we decide that this person deserves certain things that someone who hasn't committed these acts doesn't deserve. We quickly assume that in every abusive situation that there is someone who is moral that deserves fairness and someone who does not deserve the same level of fairness because they behaved immorally. A more obvious example of this type of thing might be if someone commits murder. In these cases we are typically comfortable with that person serving jail time and not being allowed access to a gun. We would consider it unfair for someone who has never committed murder to serve the same jail sentence or experience limited access to a hunting gun.
The law of moral exclusion suggests that we apply similar rules to fairness and who is guilty or innocent based on where we draw these lines. If my religion doesn't allow your life style, then I would believe that you do not deserve the same rights as someone who lives according to the rules dictated by the religion I follow. Undoubtedly, this moral code is different for everyone and will probably always have some variations from one person to the next.
What this brought up for me personally is a bit of depth to the idea of what is fair. I can't deny that I have a personal moral exclusion. Some of the people that I believe deserve fair treatment do include individuals such as the homeless, drug users and mentally unstable patients. However, I personally have a difficult time with the idea of everyone being treated fairly because that would mean a child molester deserves the same rights as a teacher and I am not comfortable with accepting that.
"All people deserve the same rights", is a common phrase thrown around but this sunny approach doesn't actually work when applied to all areas. At some point we will continue to draw a line around what we find morally acceptable. As a result, we can't in all truth say that we don't judge others based on how they live their lives because our sense of morality says that we must. We judge how others live their lives and compare it to the way we live ours and make a line around what actions we define as moral or justified and what actions we don't believe moral. To us moral includes only the things we find acceptable and everything else is some degree of immoral behavior.
Its uncomfortable, but I'm guessing if you honestly examine your own moral exclusion compass that you will find that it includes the people closest to you and considers even the distasteful actions that you have personally done morally understandable in some situations. This line often moves as we gain awareness and compassion for the struggles of those around us, making the question of morality even more difficult to clearly define.
A difficult task arises when we attempt to define who is an abuser and who is the victim, because there with the question comes an inherit idea that one party is moral and the other is not. This becomes even more complex when determining consequences for abusive actions. There is almost always evidence of each person involved in domestic violence making mistakes that in some way contributes to the ultimate problem. This is exactly why judges in custody hearings will seldom identify one party as the clear victim and the other as the abuser. There has been evidence to suggest that both parties have weaknesses that can contribute to future abuse if not fully addressed. The bigger question is how we can help each human being to accept responsibility for our actions and what can be done to assist those who are being harmed by the choices of others.
Abuse is what happens when someone needs control and doesn't have the tools required to obtain balance. Abuse isn't about an evil person intentionally hurting another person that they profess to love. Abusive relationships and the people involved in them are complex. They are invested in the relationships, and these types of issues should never be treated as if they are black and white. Morality and how we define abusive behavior is never a simple issue.