For as long as the Barometer can recall, the mantra, â€œThere are no absolutes,â€ has been repeated with reverence, deference, and unequivocal conviction.Â The facile response has always been, â€œWell, there are no absolutes except that one that you just offered, to wit, there are no absolutes.â€
However, time is on the side of us moral absolutists.Â Some complicated developments have begun to bore
a bigger whole in the self-contradictory axiom, â€œThere are no absolutes.â€
For example, we are told that torture (think water-boarding) is wrong â€“ an absolute.Â Yet, drones are bumping
off al Qaeda members in hit-list fashion. The drones are moving through terrorists as quickly as the terrorists
move up the ranks in al Qaedaâ€™s corporate governless structure.Â The sum total of al Qaedaâ€™s succession plan
is, â€œNext? Whoâ€™s willing to be fodder for drones?â€Arguably, drones do not involve torture because death is swift.
But, as John Woo notes, drones are not exactly disciples of due process.Â Taking people out because
someone gave them a promotion in a group of neâ€™er-do-wells seems to be something we might fit under the restraint that torture is absolutely wrong. Or perhaps we could go the other way and come to the conclusion that there are
times when torture is justified.Â From there we could move into understanding when and how we reached the
justification for assassination as we condemned the Gitmo folks for putting terrorists there on a diet of Ensure.
Speaking of diets and drinks, New York is all a-flutter with the possibility that its 7-11s will lose their 32- and 44-ounce drinks (only if they have sugar).Â New York is regulating sales of Big Gulps full of Coca-Cola as states around the country embrace medicinal marijuana sales and use.Â To be fair, the sales and use of a drug the Feds still place in felony status are in the name of compassion. Permissible marijuana use and sales address eligible and serious
health issues such as hang nails and paper cuts.
Head to the public schools and you find the cherubs fencing Cheetos to the snack-deprived.Â But thanks to Planned Parenthoodâ€™s partnership with Los Angeles County high schools, they can get birth control, treatment for STDs, and even morning-after pills.Â All without parental knowledge or consent. An absolute ban on snack foods but moral relativism, indeed enabling support, for sexual activity among the young â€˜uns.Â And all without the emotional support they will need when teen intimate relationships go south.
And on it goes â€“ a company is recognized with a LEED certification for its environmentally progressive building.Â Solar power, recycling, and natural light get you a â€œgood companyâ€ rating.Â Renewable energy use â€“ good, an absolute that protects you even if you use your building to launch an IPO without disclosing that your earnings projections are off because advertising isnâ€™t panning out for your customers.
Moral absolutes do exist, but they are arbitrary and capricious.Â They are enforced, but what
is difficult to decipher is why they were chosen as absolutes in the first place. Perhaps the standard is nothing more than, â€œWell, they are absolutes because they just feel right.â€Â Ah, moral relativism has come full circle to moral absolutes.