I'm reading: The Death of Right and Wrong.

I'm trying to learn more about formatting this blog, but thus far I haven't discovered much.

So what is going on in the U.S. politically? I don't think it's usually this partisan and heated, or maybe I've been not paying attention.

I re-read 1984 recently, and I was horrified at how much we have done that resembles what Orwell predicted - he was a little early, but it's all there: doublethink, newspeak, thought crime... just listen to the politicians speak. They're all lying, and they know they're lying, and we know they're lying, and they know we know they're lying, and we know they know they're lying, and we're all playing an elaborate game of Emperor's New Clothes.

I'm reading an excellent book, The Death of Right and Wrong by Tammy Bruce. She is a self-proclaimed gay liberal feminist, but her point of view is anything but what you'd expect. Essentially, she castigates moral relativism, and this is a difficult position for anyone who, like me, grew up in the 60s.

I have been thoroughly indoctrinated (or have I??) into the idea that we cannot judge another individual's soul; we cannot condemn another culture's choices; we cannot impose "our" way on another.

But is this true? I've been in more than one argument with my sister who is quite the moral absolutist. I was arguing that any path to God (or decency, or right, or however you choose to call it) is alright as long as it is sincere. What more can a just "force" ask of us? And she asked me if I honestly believed that a "faith" that led it's followers to "bad" behavior was as good as a faith that encouraged "good" behavior. (It's starting to get snarly, right?) And I said, well sometimes the faith itself is ok, it's just the practitioners who are bad - the Catholic Church (we are Catholic) hasn't got a very clean record when it comes to bad things done in the name of God.

She argued of course that there is a significant difference between the behavior of people and the doctrines and beliefs of the organization. And of course, that is true.

If a cultural belief says it's ok, even good, to maim a little girl in the name of chastity, is that "ok?" Or do we condemn that? Is it ok to stone a woman for adultery but not the man? Is it ok to burn a woman whose husband has died?

Are there transcendant morals? Are there things we should fight for no matter what - even if it means acting "imperialistic," imposing our way on another person, nation, culture, faith?

Bruce suggests that there are such things as objective right and wrong, and that moral good is not relative. She feels, for example, that the sexualization of children is never ok. She feels that gay men should be kept away from young boys - and that any gay man who really cares about children and isn't interested in doing something nasty with them will gracefully walk by rather than risk the kids.

I find myself nodding and agreeing, and then getting scared and thinking, but this is judgemental and it is so totally not cool to be judgemental, right? Isn't that what is always in the Playboy Bunny bios: Turnoffs: Judgemental people.

And yet, isn't this the crux of any stand that we take? THIS is what I believe, this is what I will fight for, this is what I am all about...

If we never take a stand on anything, what do we have left? Is it ok to have sex with 10 year olds? Is it ok to have extra-marital affairs? Is it ok to take something that belongs to you because you need it? Is it ok to kill or hurt someone because you have been hurt? Is it ok to kill your spouse because he/she cheated on you? Where do we draw a line?


Popular Posts