Friday, September 30, 2005

Moral outrage

Lawrence notes
Moral outrage, as the term is used these days by women and various minority groups, is none other than hyperbole; and the persistent use of hyperbole invariably weakens the moral force of the language being used. I observed a few years ago that many of my white students have become pretty inured to the charge of racism. Why? Because they have discovered that the charge of racism was often used as a means of badgering them into agreement.

Here is a simple truth: Regardless of the group to which one belongs, it is not possible to have it both ways. If I am a racist or a sexist in your eyes no matter what I do, then it stops mattering to me that you think such a thing of me.

Society needs the words of moral outrage to have their proper force. Indeed, those who carelessly use words of moral outrage also need them need to have their force. When we continually dilute the moral force of words for our personal or political gain, we may very well win the battle (at best) but we will inevitably lose the war.

good point....


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