"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." --G.K. Chesterton

Friday, July 6, 2012

The hottest place in Hell

Martin Luther King once said, ""The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict."

One wonders what he would have made of the state of moral confusion found in the Western world in the year 2012. He might opine that the "hottest place in Hell" could become very crowded, indeed.

Hear no evil; see no evil, speak no evil.
I've been thinking of such questions in response to a variety of controverisal stories over the past few months--stories that that have appalled all decent-minded Canadians. One involves a member of the Coquitlam RCMP.

I won't comment on the specifics of the case, but my examination of the RCMP's Code of Conduct prompted me to think about the issue of moral confusion and its twin, moral relativism.

For the record, Section 37 of the RCMP Act states:

"It is incumbent on every member, (a) to respect the rights of all persons; (b) to maintain the integrity of the law, law enforcement and the administration of justice; (c) to perform the member’s duties promptly, impartially and diligently, in accordance with the law and without abusing the member’s authority; (d) to avoid any actual, apparent or potential conflict of interests; (e) to ensure that any improper or unlawful conduct of any member is not concealed or permitted to continue; (f) to be incorruptible, never accepting or seeking special privilege in the performance of the member’s duties or otherwise placing the member under any obligation that may prejudice the proper performance of the member’s duties; (g) to act at all times in a courteous, respectful and honourable manner; and (h) to maintain the honour of the Force and its principles and purposes."

It is noteworthy that the section uses the words "integrity," "improper" conduct, "incorruptible," and "honour."

I have to wonder, however, whether such words have been now become virtually meaningless.

I don't blame the RCMP. I blame the relativistic view of morality that has overtaken modern Western society, a view that does not allow for opposition to some palpable evils.

Indeed, in the name of almighty tolerance, we seem to have painted ourselves into a corner out of which it is impossible to take a stand against certain behaviours. Integrity? It's a personal choice.  Proper or improper? Feeling good is what's important. Incorruptible? You've got to believe in the concept of corruption to begin with. Honour? It's in the eye of the beholder.

Which leads me to conclude with a quote from the American moral philosopher Peter Kreeft: "It is not reason, but the abdication of reason that is the source of moral relativism. Relativism is not rational, it is rationalization."

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