virus: Moral Relativism

Tue, 27 Apr 1999 10:01:29 -0700

Both of these gems were waiting for me in my email box this morning:


I was born in 1943 and grew up in the 40's and 50's. Anyone much younger

than 45 will find it difficult to comprehend what a difference there is between today and then. The differences speak volumes about where America
today and where it is headed-and the end of the road is not very pretty.

>From the time I was old enough to go to the movies and until I was
approximately 10 years old, I spent nearly every Saturday afternoon at our
local movie theater watching Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and other heroes defeat
the bad guys. There was killing all over the place: the good guys killed

bad ones.

The message in these black-and-white movies was black and white: the good
guys were good and the bad guys were very bad. An explosion of cheers would
erupt from youngsters, including myself, when the heroes came to the rescue
of the innocent victims of the bad guys. Murder, robbery and mayhem were

very bad. Being good was very good and becoming a person who lived by what
is right was very right. All of us wanted to be like those heroes. We wanted
to do what was right. And I wanted to make something of myself and achieve
something important: it was a glorious, almost inexpressible vision of the
future. I, and most of my generation, believed it was important to be good,
to do what is right. This was the message I received from almost every source: movies, my teachers and virtually every adult I knew-until I got


We didn't have video games back then, but we all played equivalent games:
cowboys and army. We shot, with cap guns, the imaginary bad guys and defended the good guys. In this make-believe world we acted out a moral absolute for the real world: instruments of force were only to be used in
self-defense. The near-universal acceptance of this belief in America, in
childhood, kept crime very low-and juvenile crime was rare.

I grew up in a town that probably had more guns in town than people. Guns
were all over the place and no one feared them. Virtually every adult owned
one or more guns, including automatic weapons. Lots of people carried them
around openly, in their cars and on their persons, especially during hunting
season. Guns were a lot more accessible to children than they are today.

only did every kid in school know where his parents kept their guns, virtually every pre-teen boy owned, by the time he was 10 years or so old,
shotgun or rifle given to him by his parents. Yet not a single person felt
threatened or was ever threatened. And there was not a single murder using
gun or any other weapon while I lived there.

There were no school counselors to undermine the authority of parents. When,
on rare occasions, I got a whipping from my father for doing something wrong, there were no voices around yelling "child abuse." If I misbehaved

school, there was a price to pay, including the possibility of getting paddled by the teacher or principal. Most of us were grateful for such discipline.

When I went to college, in 1961, I made my first contact with one of the

ideas that would become the destroyer of America, as I had known it: the

idea that there are no absolutes. This notion was awash on our college campuses in the 60's. It was an idea that would undo, for many, everything
they had learned as a youngster from their parents and teachers. It would

create a generation of baby boomers that thought virtually nothing was absolute, that almost anything goes. It was an idea that gradually filtered
down to high schools and grade schools. It was to later take many lives,

it has most recently done in Littleton, Colorado.

If a child accepts the idea that there are no absolutes, it will gradually
destroy everything within his mind that sets a rational man apart from a

savage. If there are no absolutes, then there is no such thing as: truth,
knowledge, standards of right and wrong-or reason. Such a child is not guided by his intellect, but by emotions generated from the terror of trying
to live a life devoid of the only means of living: reason, the ability to
think. Such a child grows to resent and hate those who can think and live
successful lives. Unable to reason, he resorts to the only other tool available for dealing with others: force. And the example set by statists those purveyors of force-provide him all the rationalization he needs to become a criminal.

The idea that there are no absolutes is a contradiction and, therefore, absolutely false. But as long as this idea remains the common currency of
modern education, we will continue to see students, transformed into
absolute monsters by the teachers of the non-absolute, kill others.

Fulton Huxtable
April 26, 1999

Copyright 1999 Fulton Huxtable


By Tom Clancy

Moral Absolutes, Not More Gun Laws
Right and wrong have been replaced with 'valueneutral' cant, leaving misguided kids adrift.

Almost exactly eight years ago I was at Walt Disney World in Florida,
pushing a wheelchair occupied by a little boy of seven years who had already
lost a leg to cancer and would, on Aug. 1 of that year, lose his life. I

this to let the reader know that I am aware of the fact that if there is

something worse than the death of a child, I have yet to encounter it.

Fourteen kids and one adult are dead, and for no good reason. The

horrid events in Littleton, Colo., last week cause us all first to wince,
then to feel the loss of other parents and, last of all, to ask why it had
to happen.

This last question cannot ever be answered with certainty. To look
into another human heart is something none of us can really do. We can only
guess and hope that something like this stays a long way away from our own
families. This does not, however, stop people from taking this incident and
using it as fodder for their own political views.

The first and most predictable reactors to this event were the guncontrol advocates. It had to be the guns' fault, they said even before
the last sad echoes faded. (The two alleged criminals also used explosive
devices; why not do away with chemistry class in addition to toughening up
guncontrol laws?) The media dutifully reported this view, because they, as
rule, follow the cant of the political left, because for the news media the
Constitution starts and ends with the 1st Amendment and not even all of that.

"Congress," this part of the Constitution says, "shall pass no law
respecting an establishment of religion," and then it goes on to protect

press, freedom of speech and assembly. This first entry in the Bill of Rights is taught to kids in school as freedom of religion. Yet current political culture twists it into freedom from religion. The political left
bridles at the mere recitation of a single prayer in public schools. Why?

Well, it offends some of those among us who choose not to believe in God,
and since those people may be offended (especially the noisy ones), this

small minority is able to impose its views on the majority, and to do so

with the blessingnay the advocacyof the "progressive" elements of our political culture.

I suppose my first reaction is, what's the big deal? If atheists don't believe, what possible interest could they have in the words of those
who do? Oh, yeah, the kids of parents who choose not to believe can't be

exposed to a contrary outlook, lest they be polluted by it. We can't have
the public schools inculcating belief in something like thatand we don't.

Instead we have schools promoting "valueneutral" cant. Modern school
books tell kids that stealing, for example, is wrong, not because it's "wrong," but rather because after stealing you might feel badly about it

later on. Better, isn't it, to let kids mush along with their own subculture
and figure things out for themselves, albeit with the help of rap music
Web sites about Adolf Hitler?

I never attended public schools. My parents sent me to Catholic ones,
where education in religion was part of the curriculum, and along with that
came a few simple rules: killing and stealing were out. Why? Because they
were wrong. A simple bit of advice for a child to absorb, and evidently effective. Nobody shot up St. Matthew Elementary School while I was thereand
back then guncontrol laws were far more lax than they are now. Crime was

also a far more rare event.

There's a lot more to it than that, of course, but the simple fact

that the political left has assumed ownership of the rules of contemporary
society. They have replaced right and wrong with something else, and one

result of this is that there were no people to take the two adolescent shooters in Littleton aside and say, "Hey, guys, this Hitler chap you talk
about, he was not much of a role model, and, by the way, whatever
you may have with your schoolmates, we can work on that, and maybe if you
change a little, they will, too, and whatever feelings of rejection you have
will fade away in a relatively short period of time."

But nobody intervened, and evidently nobody told these two misguided
kids that some things are objectively wrong. Perhaps too many public schoolteachers do not view morals instruction as being within their professional purview. Perhaps their union disapproves of prayers and moralityteaching as much as the ACLU does. Maybe it was their parents' fault, maybe the fault of many segments of society. The final score is dismally simple: These two boys did what they did because nobody told
convincingly that to do so was horribly wrong.

So maybe, just maybe, we can allow public schools to tell kids that
some things are just plain wrong? The problem with that is that our ideas

right and wrong ultimately come from a source higher than government. And
say such a thing would offend atheists. But if you remove something and fail
to replace it with something else, there will be a downstream effect.

These two kids used guns and some homemade explosives. In the former
case, let's try to remember that guns are inanimate objects. They do not

leap up and operate on their own accord. A person, misguided or not, has

do that. The person may be motivated by greed, hatred or madness, and in

some cases there is nothing we can do about the wishes of that human heart.
But in some cases we can, if we think a little about what ideas we trouble
ourselves to teach our children. It is neither difficult nor particularly
offensive to instruct children in the better reasons rather than casting

them adrift to find the worse ones on their own untutored accord.

Tom Clancy's Latest Novel Is "Rainbow Six" (Putnam, 1998) Copyright 1999 Los Angeles Times. All Rights Reserved