By Rev. Clinton Chisholm
“…there’s no right and wrong just winners and losers…”(a criminal in the movie All Things to All men)“…there’s no black and white….just shades of grey…”(a corrupt executive in the movie No Way Out)
The quotations above suggest a rejection of the notion that some things are always right and some others always wrong, in other words, a rejection of absolutes and a possible acceptance of relativism (the belief that nothing is intrinsically right or wrong it all depends on situation or circumstance). Relativism is the default [albeit private] position of most thinking persons around in whatever sector of society you choose and parsons are not exempt.
If relativism is true or defensible ethically then societally we need to reduce the ethical noise and radically alter much at the heart of our cultural mores or behavioural expectations.
So what’s wrong with foreign companies selling tainted petrol with or without the complicity of governmental officials and others within the JGRA if relativism is ethically defensible?
If no sexual behavior is intrinsically right or wrong why maintain regulations against homosexual sex, or why the cultural stigma against pre-marital, extra-marital, bestial, bisexual or other kinds of sex acts?
By the way if relativism is ethically defensible we would need to rewrite the absolutist oath that we demand witnesses to take in a court of law!!
And while we are at it, if relativism rules and is defensible why is volition re sex held up as some kind of virtue? What if a man cannot get it up, or at all, unless he takes it by force, why the ethical furore, if relativism is defensible. Uncomfortable line of reasoning right? And I am not sorry at all for doing that to you because we must face the possible consequences of our free choices and have the intellectual courage to defend our positions publicly if necessary.
That is why, though I may disagree with Mr. Tomlinson’s position on homosexuality I respect him for his public stance on the issue. His response to my article re John Finnis’s essay on sexual orientation is evidence of his preparedness to defend his views. I registered something odd in his response to me though.
When a member of the genus/species of homo sapiens and an educated lawyer who specializes in human rights law, to boot, suggests or implies a justification of human behavior by an appeal to the behaviour of lower animals then I say “clients beware” or as the proverbial Chinese gentleman is alleged to have said concerning a puzzling development “Someting wong”!! (See the Gleaner’s letter of the day of December 18, 2015)
When Mr. Tomlinson treats ‘wearing glasses’ and ‘taking airplanes’ as unnatural he is taking indefensible liberties with language and logic. We may soon hear from him that shaving a beard or combing/cutting one’s hair is also unnatural, possibly too, heaven forbid, showering daily or at all!
Mr. Tomlinson is correct though re me and his constitutional challenge. I have not seen the suit but as the first paragraph of my piece on Finnis makes clear I was really chiding the Gleaner’s editorial of December 11 for wishing him luck and I ended my first paragraph thus “…the editorial went on to treat the objection to homosexual acts as informed primarily, if not exclusively by an appeal to religious texts. This view from whomever wrote that editorial is almost unpardonably myopic and ignorant of the legal literature. I explain.”
Then the headliner used for the Gleaner’s letter of the day on December 18 last (from Mr. Tomlinson) proclaimed that 40% of heterosexual couples have anal sex. As a thought experiment, how could anyone know this to be so, like seriously? Numbers or percentages of persons who indulge in any sex act must of necessity be conjectural/arbitrary except via confession in a clinical survey/study. So I ask what is the source of the percentage headlined in Tomlinson’s letter, really?
I take it on Mr. Tomlinson’s legal authority that the buggery law is from 1864 but so what? How does the age of a document necessarily negate its wisdom or current value? As I mention on my CD Homosexuality: Clinical & Biblical Perspectives, “A comparative survey of Ancient Near Eastern law codes is quite instructive: the old Hittite laws of 1650-1500 BC; the 1800 BC Babylonian code of Hammurabi or the oldest Egyptian law all have taboos that have modern legal descendants of a kind.”
Three crimes can be found in all law codes in ancient history, murder, stealing and adultery. But for adultery, they are still outlawed in modern law.
Perhaps, unlike Mr. Tomlinson, I believe that laws are designed to set a minimum standard of expectation thus setting [moral] parameters between freedom and licence in the interests of individual and community life.
Modern societies are free to choose the ethical underpinnings that inform legislation but we need to recognize that some choices are indeed quite cruel if we factor in consequences.