Saturday, January 31, 2009

Moral Equivalence in Argument

Regrettably, polite social interaction militates in favour of moral equivalence for members of the political right. The way it works is like this:

The Loony Leftwinger says "It's terrible what Bush did. Thank goodness Obama is the President now!"

The Sensible Rightwinger is thinking, "This is some kind of joke. The Left has been engaging in character assassination for 8 years and now we need to listen to the deification of Obama?" But that's not what he can say. The rules of polite social interaction require the person on the right of the political spectrum to pretend that moral equivalence exists, and to say something like, "I'm sure both men have their strengths and weaknesses."

This would be OK, except for the fact that the same rule doesn't apply to the Left. If someone on the Right says, "I think Bush will go down in history as a great President" the person on the Left is free to jump all over that statement. Moral equivalence does not apply to the Left.

Is this because the Right is more polite? Or is this just one of the unfair biases built into the political system?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is because the Right is more polite!! It is so tempting to "play dirty" in politics, but I think the Right traditionally does a better job of being morally upright and refusing to take cheap shots.

Also...the media bias is somewhat to blame. Every little misstep of Bush's lingo was magnified on TV News, while Obama's mistakes are swept under the rug. So the perception of the 2 presidents comes across a certain way due to media's presentation.

12:58 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found your site ironically, when researching 'grey, black and white'.. because I believe in grey.
Why do you uphold such dangerous dichotomies such as left and right, good and evil, (black and white)? There's a spectrum in play always, just like the rainbow. Forget trying to measure Obama against Bush- Bush has purpetrated crimes against humanity, war crimes he will probably never be held accountable for. And all the isms- socialism, capitalism, should all be appreciated for their varying strengths and weaknesses. You can thank the greedy end of the Capitalism spectrum for our current financial crisis, of course.
I recommend picking up that newspaper again and looking between the black and the white. Or even better, taking a look outside.

1:23 a.m.  
Blogger Shawn Abigail said...

To both commenters, I thank you for your thoughts.

With regards to comment 1, I saw a picture the other day of about 20 different times the media published a picture of George Bush together with a money doing the same thing. But one cartoon gets published (supposedly of Obama and everyone goes nuts). Fair? I don't think so.

With regards to comment 2, yes, I understand that you believe in grey. By way of dialogue, can I ask if you believe that there are any moral absolutes?

10:24 a.m.  

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