Monday, September 14, 2009

The ACORN scandal: Moral indifference has severe cultural consequences

The recent revelations about the apparently massively corrupt organization, ACORN, are rooted in attitudes that have long been promoted by certain key groups/segments of society which have a disproportionately large cultural influence in America.

The shocking undercover videos made by James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles reveal that, at least in the ACORN Housing offices of Baltimore, Washington, DC, and Brooklyn, NY, the idea that a house of child prostitution might move in to their neighborhood in the near future does not upset their employees. In fact, they had no problem advising two individuals posing as a pimp and a prostitute how to arrange their income so they could appear legitimate and get a loan for a house (in which to conduct child prostitution), how to avoid being caught by authorities (because it's illegal), and even such things as how to hide cash in a "tin" and bury it under the grass in the backyard so that other shady characters would not find it in case they came looking for it. Gosh, I wonder if they have thought of this sort of thing before? So much for the integrity of ACORN.

As I say, such attitudes have roots in ideas that have long been supported by a certain segment of very influential cultural elites. What ideas? Well, one of the most destructive of them goes like this:

There is no ultimate purpose for human life, and all ideas about morality, of right and wrong in human actions, are simply matters of discerning one's own already-given, interior feelings and dispositions. Right and wrong are simply what each person feels to be right and wrong for himself (herself). In other words, there are no universal standards of human morality, only personal, individual standards. And the only judgments any person can legitimately make about the morality of human acts are to judge his own actions. When it comes to the actions of other people, we cannot proclaim them right or wrong (good or evil), we can only help them discover whether their actions live up to their own unique personal moral code.

This is moral relativism, which leads inevitably to moral indifference toward everyone but oneself. In my experience, a sector of society with great cultural influence which holds such views is the educational establishment. I don't mean everyone involved with teaching, but I do mean especially those who are in highly respected positions of influence and leadership within the field of education--especially public education. I speak especially of those who educate the educators--writing curricula for teacher education--as well as those who set policy for public teacher's unions and those who have a big influence over textbooks. Most worrisome are those who are considered expert in teaching "sex education" (or "health"), social studies/history, and English.

I am personally convinced that for some decades, many (though not all) public schools have subtly (sometimes not-so-subtly) encouraged moral indifference in regard to a few key areas of human life. Think of the issue of homosexuality and the nature of marriage. How many students, by the time they graduate high school (and then college), have been influenced by what happens in the classroom to look upon an actively gay lifestyle, including same-sex-marriage, with indifference? The same goes for abortion and sexual activity by unmarried teens. If a student reacts negatively to such things it is suggested to him or her (and reinforced many times and many ways) that while it is fine for him personally to decide not to engage in such activity, he has no right--indeed it is grievously wrong--for him to try to convince (or even suggest to) anyone else that they too should not be doing those things.

When it comes to sexual behavior, kids are taught that it is bad to judge the morality of the (sexual) acts of other kids. They may only judge their own acts--whether they are being true to themselves or not (represented by the mindless notion of telling kids they should figure out if they are "ready" for sex). And what happens when adults begin to think this way, not only about other adults, but about children?

What does this have to do with the ACORN scandal? A lot. A great deal!

The ACORN workers in the videos nonchalantly advising a supposed pimp and prostitute about how to get money for a house the workers were told would be used for child prostitution are simply the inevitable consequence of this morally indifferent attitude. This is exactly what our most elite and influential professionals in the field of public education encourage. It is how our young people are taught to view the world. And those areas of our society, I suspect, where this morally bankrupt and putrid approach to life is most heavily pushed are in our poorest neighborhoods and schools. [Note: I would apply this primarily to secular public schools, less to private religious schools, though they are not immune.]

It follows. . . If one cannot say that it is wrong (note: not simply undesirable, but wrong) for two 14-year-olds to have sex with each other as long as they both consent (as many teacher educators would tell teachers), it is not much of a stretch from there to saying that it is OK for a 14-year-old and an adult to have sex, so long as the child "consents." If there were any ACORN workers in the above videos who had any reservations about child prostitution this attitude I describe would equip them to facilitate such activities without a bothered conscience. For they would see any personal reservations as merely personal--particular to themselves only--believing that they have no right to render any moral judgment upon others. "So long as the pimp and prostitute think it's fine and dandy, who am I to say otherwise???"

There are too many adults in our society who seem to hold similar notions (including many in journalism, entertainment, and the arts). Those among us who have a sane moral compass, knowing that there is indeed such a thing as a universal moral code and that a civil human society cannot survive long without recognizing this, have an obligation to act against the forces of moral indifference in our culture. The future of our nation depends on us.

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