Yet another blog for spewing. This one may end up with a lot of religious and social content.


Moral Relativism and the Religious Right

I made the mistake of reading my brother-in-law's blog yesterday. If I want to know what the distilled right wing talking heads are saying, I just read his stuff, wherein he religiously regurgitates the talking points of the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, Coulter, Malkin and Cheney.

This one actually woke me up off and on all night, it bothered me that much. You see, I have real ethics and morals, that are consistent and logical. Yes, they're shades of grey, and situational, but they are not self-contradictory. His, however, are for sale to whoever has the loudest voice that claims the mantle of Christian Conservative. There's no soul searching here, no putting himself in someone else's shoes, just defense of the party line, including the obligatory swipe at the demonized opposition. This person is raising my niece and nephews with this kind of mentality. Disgusting.

When people like me refuse to swallow "Christian" views like "being gay is a sin, therefore gay marriage must be illegal" because it harms no one and protects rights, they call us "moral relativists", and thus "evil", "lost" or "sinners". But when it comes to mild torture (what they euphemistically call "enhanced interrogation techniques that aren't torture"), or even hardcore torture, it's moral relativism and situational ethics until the cows come home, and that's just fine. Waterboard on Saturday, go to church with a clean conscience on Sunday.

Jesus never said anything against gays, but take a good look at Luke 6:27-31:
27"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Look very carefully at verse 27, 28 and verse 31 - do they look like justifications for "enhanced interrogation techniques"?? No?? I thought not.

Yet the Pew Research Center found that a strong correlation between evangelical protestants and justification of torture. (Commentary here.) Yes, the most fervent of "fishers of men" are more likely to justify torture. You know, like they used to do to force confessions of witchcraft and thus "save souls" (that they later executed so they could take their land and wealth.) But gay is a sin thus evil, despite the fact that it does no physical or emotional harm in and of itself (all of the physical and emotional harm comes from protestant society's rejection and abuse.) Yes folks, it's a sin for gays to marry, but it's OK to torture a foreign terror suspect.

Hypocrite much? Torture, "enhance interrogation techniques" and the hypothetical "ticking time bomb scenario" are classic examples of the worst sort of moral relativism. In the ticking time bomb scenario, it is not only permissible to torture the suspected terrorist, but their family as well. Not only that, but for many people, the "proof" needed gets very slim, thus increasing the probability of false arrest. Note I say "suspected" - these people never have had their day in a real court - only kangaroo courts using "confessions" obtained under duress.

Really, this shit makes me ill, and very, very angry. When you actually do it to one "fairly conservative" talking heads (but not a hard core one - they haven't got the balls), they get the picture that it really is torture. Stan's response? Oh, but there is no "intent to torture", no " physical or psychological injury", and it's "used as a training technique" by the military. First, "intent" has nothing to do with it. You can call shit "chocolate", and intend to serve someone a dish of chocolate, but it's still shit when fork meets mouth. Second, that type of experience has lasting psychological effects. Third, it's used as a training technique in how to resist torture!!! (They also go through and breaks trainees' fingers.)

Why is it that I, a pagan with a very situational set of ethics, can still find torture wrong, but supposed moral absolutists can "justify" it in hundreds of mealy mouthed ways? Seriously, if you have to torture a prisoner (use "enhanced interrogation techniques", like crushing some one's kid's balls) to get a confession, then your skills in investigation and interrogation suck! First, you probably have the wrong guy! Second, someone under that kind of physical and psychological duress will make shit up that he thinks you want to hear just to get you to stop!! Add to that the leading questions that most of these imbeciles use, and you have a setting for a hype loop of belief that becomes a little microcosm of altered reality.

What will it be next? Oh, it's not okay to beat people up, unless they're gay? Oh, wait, they do that anyway - the "gay panic defense" - too bad the court doesn't buy it, huh? How about it's not okay to abuse a child, unless you have to perform an exorcism - oh, wait, that's illegal too.

Seriously, when you look at what Jesus of Nazareth actually said - like Luke 6:31 - you realize that he would have been horrified at the kind of crap that his so-called followers justify. But "An it harm none, do what you will" is evil moral relativism?

So yeah, my "Christian" BIL says that waterboarding is unpleasant, he wouldn't want to go through it, but it isn't "torture". I say "Jesus Wept" (John 11:35). I'm proud to be pagan - my religious organization doesn't demand hypocrisy the way most Christian churches seem to.

1 comment:

Dusty said...

Good article.

Christians moral absolutes fall apart when you point out that all the things they claim to be against were committed or commanded by their very own god in the bible. Genocide, torture, infanticide, child sacrifice, rape, slavery. All these things they immediately become fine when it's in the bible.

That's why it is SO easy to tell that these are the bad guys. The make movies about people torture. Movies like "Saw" and "Hostile".

And the torturers are ALWAYS the bad guys. Good guys don't torture. And if you support torture, then, in my opinion, you're not a good guy.

Dusty Smith