Saturday, 2 August 2008

The Misunderstanding of Morality..

A few weeks ago, David Cameron was talking about the "de-moralised" society using it as a stick to beat the liberally-minded and emphasising the fact that he is a conservative, NOT a liberal-conservative.

The problem with the Right and morality is not that they don't like talking about it, they just don't understand it. There are plenty of self-appointed moral guardians out there from the Daily Mail and its coterie of sad readers and columnists through to Rupert Murdoch.

Tonight, Mrs Stodge wanted to record a "15" movie on Sky Premiere only to discover she needed a PIN number to view it. This is a film far less offensive than the current 12A "Dark Knight" which is extremely violent but which has been given a rating based on the need to achieve commercial success rather than any dispassionate notion of its suitability for children and teenagers.

As a liberal, I don't want the State acting as my moral guardian but I don't expect the private sector to step into the breach. The irony is that the "cultural war" as the Right sees it, was lost years ago by those self-serving moralisers. As a teenager in the mid-70s, I remember seeing my first copies of Playboy and Penthouse and reading Deep Throat. For a generation with unprecedented access, via the Internet, to as much violence and sex as they want, trying to censor "15" films seems about as helpful as Cnut keeping the tide at bay.

Moral guidance doesn't come from the State or from the private sector in isolation and neither do moral boundaries. What is acceptable to me won't be acceptable to you and vice versa but that's fine. That doesn't make us "de-moralised" - far from it - it recognises a range of moralities and the public acceptance or otherwise of those. There is incongruity and hypocrisy in this too - I often wonder how the aesthetic Muslim accepts what I would consider unreasonable limitations on the status of women but is more than happy to drive a fast car and generally demonstrate the trappings of wealth while I have a Christian friend who is happy to chastise her children physically and harshly but who fights against any form of animal suffering.

As long as we recognise the incongruities and hypocrisies, we must also recognise the profusion of morality in society. It's a pity David Cameron can't or won't...

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