Public Service Announcement: Right Makes Right – or does it?

Before we go any further, let’s get one thing straight: the title of this piece is incorrect in every conceivable manner save one: it’s analogy to “might makes right”, and the self-justifying arrogance embodied in that belief.

Being right – saying or thinking the right things (whatever your particular sphere of political belief defines as “right”) – does not automatically your actions right. But it’s truly amazing how many people seem to believe it does. There are true believers in this one at both ends of the political spectrum, from the left-wing hypocrites who think that being morally right excuses vandalism to the right-wing hypocrites who believe in the Ten Commandments, but only for everyone else.

There’s a particular style of political activism that distinguishes itself by thinking that being morally right means that your actions are, by definition, moral. Whatever they might be. So it’s okay to, for example, kill people in order to prevent the “murder” of abortion; or to provoke the police by every means up to and including physical violence, and then scream that it’s “police brutality”.

If you’re going to go around telling people that you’re right, and you know what’s best for them, and so on, get a clue: saying this sort of thing means you should be held to a higher standard of moral conduct, not a lower one.

This applies to you whether you’re a cop or a protester; whether you’re Richard Dawkins or Pope Benedict. If you’re right, then don’t tell us: show us.

Fear and Ethics

One of the most disturbing arguments against atheism and agnosticism that I come across on a regular basis is the idea that without some form of religious belief – and when I say religious, I note that the religions in particular that seem most amenable to this idea are Christianity and Islam – it is impossible to live a moral or ethical life.

Politely, this is balderdash. Less politely, the rest of this piece will consist of an unforgiving examination of why.
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