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Friday, December 18, 2009
Orwellian Language Part Three: Moral Relativism
"Moral Relativism" is a philosophical school of thought dealing with ethics and social norms. I'll get to the exact definition, but you often here it applied (falsely) to "liberals" (in general, I'm sure SOME might be moral relativists, but it's hardly descriptive of the vast majority) by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Rielly. They do this to try and contrast those dreaded "secular humanists" (Bill-O's other commonly used term for ALL liberals) with the Christian Funny-Mentalists (moral absolutists to a man) that they believe make up 99% of the Republican Party. (It's funny thought, because if the have their way, these zealots WILL be 99% of the Party. The party will be about a third it's present size, but...) LOL
Anyway, according to Wikipedia:
"Moral relativism is the position that moral or ethical propositions do not reflect universal moral truths. [...] Moral relativists hold that no universal standard exists by which to assess an ethical proposition's truth. Relativistic positions often see moral values as applicable only within certain cultural boundaries (cultural relativism) or in the context of individual preferences (individualist ethical subjectivism). An extreme relativist position might suggest that judging the moral or ethical judgments or acts of another person or group has no meaning [...] In moral relativism there are no absolute, concrete rights and wrongs."
Does this sound like modern American-Left, Liberalism AT ALL to you? It sure doesn't to me! Take a few examples:
Would a liberal believe that it's OK to mutilate the genitals of young girls via female circumcision practices, simply becuase that's what that culture's tradition?
Would a liberal belive that it's OK to exclude girls from recieveing a public education out of respect for that country's traditional values?
Would a liberal view civil war as an acceptable way for a country to solve an internal stuggle, just becuase that country has a cultural history of violent in-fighting?
Would a liberal accept the continued hunting of an animal species on the brink of exticntion, just because it part of a culture's tradition?
Would a liberal, viewing slavery through the context of the days when it was legal, feel that it was any more morally acceptable simply becaue it was legally or widely practiced at the time?
The answer to these and every other example I can think of is a resounding NO. No, the conservtaives only wish to brand us with this label becuase it sounds "icky" to the morally absolute Christian funny-mentalists, who all seem to think that THEIR WAY is the only possible system of beliefs and anyone who disagrees with them on ANYTHING is not only a hethen but someone who must have some profoundly alien way of thinking. (Which, from my POV, means that they actually TRY thinking occasionally!)
Put simply: That's bullshit. (What isn't that comes from the highly religious?)
In my experience ALL AMERICAN'S are pretty much mostly or entirely moral absolutists. We ALL have a sense of what we believe is right and wrong, and NONE of us, Conservativce OR Liberal have much patience for serious human rights abuses, or are inclined to excuse other actions that percieve as immoral, simply on a cultural or circumstantial basis. The DIFFERENCE is that we don't always agree with EACH OTHER on exactly what is right or wrong.
Conservative think Homosexuality is wrong. We think that violating their rights as human beings is.
Conservtaives think abortion is wrong. So do most liberals. We just don't think it's right to take away everyone else's right to choose simply because we have an oppinion. Again: Liberals think that it's wrong to disregard someone's rights! But Conservtaives do too! The disagreement is over WHO'S rights take precident.
Conservataives think the Death Penalty is A-OK. Liberals don't.
Just the fact that you can frame a generally Conservtaive and Liberal position on every issue under the sun, pretty much concludes that both groups are moral absolutists, and that they only differ in their opinions of what constitutes immoral behavior. Disagreeing with one moral absolutist doesn't make you a Relativist - it's just means that the two of you disagree!
So why do they smear us this way? It's just easier for them. Conservtaives (mainly in the media) do this all the time, because it's easier to smear their opponent, and distort or misrepresent his position than it is to have an honest, objective discussion. (Watch 5 minutes of Fox news at any given time and you'll see exactly what I mean!) Besides: If they allowed liberals to argue on equal footing, then they might actually covince rather a lot of people that they're right - becuase they usually ARE! And we can't have THAT now, can we?
Bottom line: Moral Relativism does not by and large describe many AMERICANS at all. And that's part of what the right wants to do: Make liberals look less "American." It helps them not only by demonizing thier opposition, but in hiding their own, VERY un-American agenda behind a HUGE shield of phony patriotism. Bottom line, disagreeing with a Chritsian Fundy Whack-job doesn't make you a moral relativist, it only means that you're a reasonable, thinking human being. Not buying into ONE system on beliefs does NOT mean that you don't have one!
Two people disagreeing on whether something is right or wrong has nothing to do with Moral Relativism. Two Absolutists can absolutely disagree!