Turned up to eleven: Fair and Balanced

Monday, February 18, 2002

Well, the more I think about it, the more pissed off I get at Kepple's characterization of me, and his utter misunderstanding not only of my position, but the basic idea of morality. The thing that pisses me of the most, is his off-hand use of the term "moral relativist", and utter lack of understanding of what this term means, and how it may (or may not) apply to the discussion. To wit,
The first is that he feels my position on abortion is a "perfectly ok perspective to have," even though he strongly disagrees with it. Well, no. I don't think his position is perfectly acceptable at all. I think he's wrong. I'm not going to not speak with him or not have him for coffee because of it, but I don't think he's right. So it should go with mine. Either I am right or I am wrong. That's it. To do otherwise makes one a moral relativist.
Maybe I was unclear here, although my words and his seem to belie that, but I was speaking in terms of freedom of thought and expression (ref. the First damn Amendment!!!), not the moral correctness of the claim. It's the next goddamned sentence!! But the thing that really makes this passage upsetting is the flip and offhand use of the now completely worn out Conservative cop-out attack phrase "moral relativist." A moral relativist is not, contrary to Mr. Kepple's opinion, someone who disagrees with him, or someone who can hold two contradictory thoughts in his head without exploding. Moral relativism is a specific philosophical school of thought, which holds that societies decide for themselves what is right or wrong, and that no absolute right or wrong exists. This does not mean that individuals decide for themselves (this leads to amorality and anarchy). Again, as I said before, I shouldn't have to explain this! Moral absolutism holds that there is a single, unified code of right and wrong (at least in some areas), regardless of the source (Natural Law, God, the Greek pantheon, whatever!). I am squarely in the moral absolutist camp, as I suspect are the vast, vast majority of people (even the ones that Mr. Kepple disagrees with on the "left"). The differences lie in what we think that code says. Simply put, Mr. Kepple and I differ not on whether the code of moral absolutes exists, but on what it says. He thinks he knows what it says, and in this case, he thinks it says that all abortion is wrong. I think I know what some of it says, and on this point, I think the absolute right of a person to do what they will with their own body trumps the (IMO) spurious notion that abortion is absolutely wrong. As an aside, I think that abortions are horrible events for a pregnant woman or couple, and should be avoided as much as possible. But I think the right of a free person to decide when and if they wish to be a parent is more important than the controversial notion of the sanctity of the fertilized embryo. What Mr. Kepple seems unable or unwilling to understand here is that the willingness hear both sides of an argument is not a sign of moral relativism, but a prerequisite for healthy debate. Of course, he is a Horowitz disciple, so as