Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Rape of Morality and the Morality of Rape

There was a note-worthy article mentioned today in Breakpoint.  It is titled “The Wheels Are Coming Off the Sexual Revolution.”  This article is from National Review Online, and while I am not a conservative in the most common sense of that word today, the author makes some good points in reflecting on the recent discussions about rape on college campuses.

Part of the author’s point is that many colleges and universities have created conditions that, in the end, encourage rape.  It is worth a look to see just how that has happened.  In essence, the set of pet projects pursued by many universities today have created moral conditions is which rape (and many other things, for that matter) should not be a surprising event.

I don’t think many if any university officials who have helped put these conditions in place had any thought of encouraging rape.  But their commitment to promoting certain attitudes and views among students made them at least unwitting participants in the problem.  It’s as though they scattered weed seeds and then hoped that the weeds would not grow – and then they became alarmed when the weeds did grow and produce more weeds.

The problem behind all such symptoms at universities today can be traced to the broad failure to examine moral foundations.  If there are no moral foundations, then why should rape, or anything else, bother anyone?  But if there are things, like rape, ought to disturb us all morally, what is the basis of that ought, why does it apply to us all, and how can we know what it is?

University officials, especially the higher ones who make policy, don’t like to answer those questions.  Most of them operate as though there are ‘oughts’ that apply to us all.  Some of these they are very busy imposing on students in various ways.

But when you ask them things like “Why is your policy on moral matters correct?  How do you know it is true?  What is your ultimate basis for all this?” the answers are never intellectually satisfying.  There is simply the assumption that something or other about human beings and society justifies it all.  But, in my experience (and I have a bit of it) the answers to the question “What makes this right?” are often shallow or pointless – if indeed an answer is even offered.

It is time for those who make policies about moral matters at universities tell us the basis of their policies.  If they cannot or will not, they reveal part of the cause for problems like rape on campus.