Third Party & Independents Archives

Conservative anti-universalism

Pat Buchanan provides us with yet another glaring example of the conservatives’ moral relativism. Buchanan attempts to wrap his head around a contradiction between John Kerry’s religious beliefs and his political praxis.

Kerry recently stated that he "personally" opposes abortion and believes "life begins at conception," placing himself in line with the Catholic Church's teaching on the matter. And so Republicans must object that Kerry believes abortion should be legal.

Buchanan writes:

Kerry protests that he does not want to impose his religious beliefs on nonbelievers. Yet, legislators have voted to outlaw prostitution, to punish those who use and/or sell drugs, and to ban child pornography. Each time they voted to criminalize such conduct, they sought to impose their moral beliefs upon dissenters.

Civil-rights laws do the same thing. When John Kerry votes to outlaw discrimination against blacks, women and gays, he votes to impose his idea of what is right behavior on those who think they should be free not to serve, not to rent to and not to hire people they don't want to serve, rent to or hire.

If, in this conservative's mind, the prohibition of race, sex and gender discrimination is merely the imposition of one person's view upon another, then certainly he would not agree that discrimination is morally and absolutely wrong or evil. For this very reason, his abortion-analogy is invalid, since Buchanan would never argue that abortion is not absolutely wrong or evil.

Furthermore, people today do not primarily or even generally oppose prostitution, drug use and child pornography for religious, theological or moral reasons. They utilize economic, medical, sociological, historical, philosophical, and legal etc. arguments to make their cases. However, if a person were to believe that X were wrong only for theological, religious or personal/moral reasons, and sought to impose a prohibition of X for those reasons, legislating that position would in fact be nothing other than imposing his or her religious, personal or moral beliefs on others.

It is wrong to conclude from their opposition to "moral relativism" that prominent conservatives, right wingers and Republicans are universalists, as many of their followers likely do.

Posted by charles sanson at July 8, 2004 3:28 PM