About 7-8 years ago someone I was having a discussion with in an electronic forum said that he rejected “moral equivalence” arguments. I wasn’t sure what he was on about, and so asked him what he meant.
His explanation wasn’t very clear but it didn’t worry me much until other people started saying the same sort of thing. It didn’t appear to be just a random phrase, but something that was part of the regular jargon of a group or subculture, which knew what it meant so well that it was like a shorthand expression for a whole complex of ideas. Because their own inner circle know what it meant, they saw no need to explain it to outsiders either, and so seemed reluctant to explain it.
But the meaning I pieced together from the kinds of things they were saying were not pretty.
It seems that the “moral equivalence” that they reject is roughly based on the old proverb “what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander” — in other words, that there should be no double standards in judging — that there should be one law for rich and poor, black and white.
But those who reject it seem to be saying that what is bad when done by someone else is good when done by me.
Well, I know the feeling.
It’s so easy to confess other people’s sins, so hard to acknowledge my own.
I think for myself.
You are argumentative
He is a bigot.
But to think that when I do something it’s OK, but when someone else does it it’s bad is not just a rejection of moral equivalence, it’s an acknowledgement of moral turpitude.