Friday, June 03, 2005

Demolishing Dumb Arguments

The religious right subscribes to many fantasies, the divinity of Jesus being only the most famous of their illusions. One of the more pernicous works of their imagination, however, is their idea that morality is on the decline.
Overall, 77 percent of Americans think the country's moral values are on the decline -- a figure that has risen 10 points in three years.
Oh really? Let's look at a chart, (a chart I'd be glad to publish as a proper table if one of the HTML shamans in the audience would reveal the correct formula. (Update: Thanks Mr. You Know Who!))

Moral Shortcomings in 2005Moral Shortcomings in 1875
Some women wear skimpy clothing.Prostitution, including child prostitution, is rampant in large cities.
The abortion rate is about 20 percent (though it's not clear when in the pregnancy the majority of these abortions were performed. As discussed earlier, many Jewish jurists do not consider early abortions to be murder, the definition of "early" being the subject of much scholarly debate)Poverty, and general public indifference, create all sorts of health crisis, including very high infant and early childhood mortality rates.
Some kids belong to gangs, and dabble in drugs.Due to general public indifference, children, especially in large cities, often work 10-15 hour days in poorly lit factories; meny children never finish school. Also there's no minumiun wage, no maximum work-week, and no saftey regulations to protect workers - adults or children.
Adultry rates are up.Due to general public indifference, most people live in very dangerous enviroments, among sewage, bugs, rodents and disease, in poorly lit, poorly ventilated fire-traps.
Doctors are too expensive for most people, basic health services are widely unavailable.
Slavery, though not nearly as widespread as it was at the begining of the 19th century, is still prevalent. Pogroms and blood libels are common, and the movement of Jews in most of eastern Europe is still drastically limited. In the American South, Jim Crow is alive and well. Lynchings are common.
If you choose to purchase certain appliances, you can easily access lechery in the privacy of your homeIf you choose to purchase certain books, you can easily bring lechery into the privacy of your own home
The death penalty is applied unfairly.The death penalty is widespread and applied unfairly.

If we were so much more moral in the good old days, answer me this: Where was the goodness or correctness of character that might have prevented or mitigated such widespread suffering? Why were prostitution and slavery widely tolerated? Why was injustice, (especially toward blacks and Jews) so menacingly rife?