Monday, January 14, 2013

Speaking of Irony: "The Guardian" Challenges Moral Norms concerning Pedophilia - #dictatorshipofrelativism

One would presume that a newspaper named The Guardian would have public welfare and the common good among their ideals. Yet, this controversial piece that's meant to have us rethink pedophilia seems bent upon clouding a crystal clear moral norm. Fr. Longenecker frames the problem most lucidly below:

The journalist doesn’t go so far as to endorse pedophilia. He doesn’t even write sympathetically about pedophiles. Oh no, it’s much more subtle than that. Instead he states that “society’s attitudes change” and “experts don’t agree” and “it’s all very complicated” and “it could be that pedophilia is simply a natural condition that cannot be changed. He opines that it may be one of many sexual orientations, and that we should seek to understand the condition rather than condemn. He goes on to say that certain studies have shown that sexual relationships between adults and underage partners are not necessarily “harmful”.Quite apart from the actual article itself, it is interesting to see what is going on here. The writer uses contrasting studies by “experts” to confuse his readership about a moral choice which should be transparently easy. Pedophilia in all its forms is wrong. End of story.The modern relativist, however, is more unhappy with a moral black and white than he is with pedophilia itself. Like a tongue with a broken tooth–he can’t leave it alone. He has to unpack every moral decision and show how “It’s not that easy” and “Its actually very complicated”. This obsession is so complete in our society that the relativist will now even begin to attempt to show us that pedophilia is “a disease” and “a condition”. If it is such, then there is no moral blame and we tolerant people must “try to understand”.That is relativism in a nutshell, and its dictatorship pushes against all morality. Let me break it down a bit further. If The Guardian, through its circumlocutory leveling of valuable moral norms, wishes to break the "taboo" over pedophilia in general, will they follow the logical consequences of their words? After all, if one is going to embrace relativism, can one really embrace relativism? One who embraces relativism would eventually wind up with a revised narrative:  Convicted pedophiles become recast by cultural revisionists as martyr-victims who dared to break free of the restrictive norms. (Such a narrative, as it is pushed by the more extreme pedophilia-normalizing groups, would be pure evil, which, of course, relativism denies altogether). Thus, the inevitable consequence of relativism's response to the problem of pedophilia is relativism's consistent (but now quite awkward) answer: the problem is not the phenomenon of pedophilia itself (a supposed evil, since there is no such thing as evil to a relativist), the problem is rather the guilt associated with pedophilia, both the adult's and the child's (which lasts for a lifetime). In relativism, guilt is the problem that needs the treatment and correction, and the real enemy is religion, the supposed manufacturer of society's guilt. Relativism's solution: get rid of religion, and the guilt dies too. Then, pedophiles and children can resume their guilt-free relations as though the sexual liberality of the pagan days will rush upon the secularized modern world with global peace in tow.

Back to the real world, wherein we recognize the inner absurdity of such ideas and the perils of relativism--this article accomplishes something that jeopardizes the common good: it further enters the radicals into the mainstream dialogue. Sure, it presents all the standard views condemning pedophilia, but throughout the article, they are counterbalanced by newer voices that glisten with what seems to be fresh perspective. But as anyone knows who walks through a grazing field in the morning, not all that glistens is the dew. The real danger is that pedophiles have all the validation they need from the experts' minority views to weaken their own moral resistance to disordered inclinations. Put simply, the story advances viewpoints that ought not be advanced. Where does this leave the victims? Isolated in the pain of their experiences, their suffering invalidated (because the problem is perceived as internal, guilt, rather than external, sexual exploitation) before what The Guardian sees--or at least what it seems to want you to think about possibly recognizing--as the next big sexual orientation movement. With the story pitched in light of the BBC's Savile case, I find The Guardian story acutely distasteful, giving the appearance of sympathy toward the accuser rather than toward his many victims.

Have we learned nothing from the history of political philosophy and post-sexual revolution sexual ethics that bad ideas lead to social experiments which produce human suffering? This article in its open-mindedness to horrible ideas puts children at increased risk. As whenever one gives cover to pedophiles and puts children at risk, there should be an outcry. Imagine the outcry if this had been published in a Catholic diocesan newspaper! The Guardian gives the appearance of a sympathetic cover via reinterpretation of pedophilia. I fear The Guardian may be given a free pass, however. Feel free/encouraged to write to The Guardian's editorial board and share with them your own thoughts.

Relativism is no small danger to the common good, as Cardinal Ratzinger, in his final homily before being elected Pope, warned us:

"... relativism, that is, letting oneself be "tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine", seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires" (Joseph Card. Ratzinger, homily, April 18, 2005)
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