Thursday, October 17, 2002

ONE FROM THE HEART: An old buddy of mine who, I think, prefers to remain anonymous at this point, remarks via e-mail:
Actually, I still remember hearing the words of a young man who had just enlisted in the days following the WTC attack (I saw him interviewed on the news). He said:"It's an honor to die for your country." I think that every suicide bomber thinks that he too is involved in a noble cause.

This is called "Moral Equivalence."

Moral equivalence says that offense and defense are practically the same thing.

In other words -- if someone threatens to punch me, I can claim no moral high ground when I say "Your right to extend your fist ends where my face begins" --

Rather, under the rubric of moral equivalency, I would have to concede that "If I block your fist as it hurtles toward my nose, then whatever bruises result are as much my own fault as yours."

Moral equivalence condemns both overt, offensive action as well as defensive action in the same breath. It says, in effect, that if someone infringes on my rights and I act to defend my rights, I am equally culpable for the consequences of the aggressor's actions. If I opt for defensive measures that result in injury or death to the aggressor, I am no less immoral than the aggressor who initiated the conflict in the first place.

Regardless of whether they use that term, some people subscribe to a philosophy of moral equivalence because they see it as an extremely moral, uber-principle that guides not only their moral compass, but helps them to cope with forces beyond their control.

Those who embrace moral equivalency are usually deeply invested in being or becoming victims themselves. They blame their parents for the bad genes they got stuck with. They blame teachers for not teaching them; they blame doctors for not curing them; they blame their bosses for firing them; If they are mugged, they blame society for inadequately aiding the mugger to overcome his own limitations. If their domestic security is compromised, they blame their own politicians for failing to sufficiently appease the terrorists.

But they never blame themselves for failing to take the initiative to solve their own problems -- for no one can aspire to anything greater than victimhood.

And yet, moral equivalency is not really a moral choice at all. Rather, it is fundamentally a psychological defense mechanism that enables one to absolve themselves all responsibility for everything bad that ever happens to them.

What they must overlook -- unknowingly or otherwise -- is the insidious evil inherent to this philosophy. Moral equivalence serves to make things easier for those who would take advantage of me, who would threaten my rights and freedoms, my family and countrymen. It asks me to concede that it is my responsibility to be even more moral than my enemy, who can then, passively, use my own non-violent morality as a weapon against me.

I reject all forms of moral equivalency. Whenever I see it in the media, it will be the policy of this page to call them on it.

I will never lie down and make it convenient for anyone to make me their victim.

Who else will sign the pledge?


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