Friday, October 9, 2009

More on the Nobel Fatuousness

If any more evidence that the Nobel Peace Prize committee is motivated by purely political considerations this piece from the WSJ provides it. It points out that the nominations for the prize had to be submitted by February 1st, a mere two weeks after the President's inauguration. In other words, the committee evidently judged that of all the people in the world working for peace and the betterment of mankind, President Obama, in the first two weeks of his presidency, accomplished more than any of them.

A couple of our readers wondered why someone like Paul Farmer didn't get the prize. Probably for the same reason Irena Sendler didn't get it. Neither of these two heroes represent any political ideology, they just help people. Neither of them are/were glamorous celebrities and thus could hardly be expected to catch the notice of people who swoon at the thought of bestowing awards upon political rock stars like Al Gore and Barack Obama and possibly being permitted to touch the hem of their garments.

Jason, who sent me the link to the article, suspects that the Nobel Committee gave the award to Mr. Obama as a means of slapping George Bush in the face. If so, Alfred Nobel must be spinning in his grave at the way his legacy is being perverted.


Embarrassing the President

As you have probably heard by now President Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for ........ well, I don't exactly know what for, but anyway, the Nobel committee saw fit to give it to him. The prize has been awarded in the past to such peace-loving souls as Yassar Arafat so I don't know how much importance it carries.

I do hope, though, that President Obama is embarrassed by the honor. He knows that at this stage in his presidency he has done nothing to merit it and that accepting it makes him look silly. That's not his fault, of course, but I think that if the Nobel committee had wanted to make him risible in the eyes of the world they couldn't have done anything more likely to achieve that result than what they did.

And in the process they make themselves look ridiculous as well. In 2007 they had the choice of giving the prize to an elderly woman named Irena Sendler who had, as a young nurse, risked her life to smuggle dozens of Jewish children out of Nazi-occupied Europe or give it to someone who made a film about global warming. They evidently thought the film was more important because they gave the prize to its maker, Al Gore.

The Peace Prize, evidently, has little to do with peace and everything to do with left-wing politics. The prize committee has made themselves, their award, and its recipient, laughingstocks.


Moral Subjectivism (Pt. I)

It's one of the most perplexing and disturbing aspects of our age that so many people have adopted a relativistic or subjectivistic view of moral right and wrong. Moral subjectivism is the view that right and wrong are matters of one's own personal taste, preference or bias. Moral relativism is a form of subjectivism that says that right and wrong are defined by the time and/or society in which people live. Thus, when we hear people insist that "what's right for you isn't necessarily right for me" or that "what's right for one culture isn't necessarily right for another" we're hearing the verbal expression of these views.

Barry Arrington has a post at Uncommon Descent where he writes about the Roman Polanski rape of a thirteen year-old girl. The post elicited a comment from a reader that serves as a good example of the influence of moral relativism in our culture. Arrington writes:

Here are the facts concerning the Roman Polanski case: Polanski gave a Quaalude to a 13 year-old child, instructed her to get into a Jacuzzi naked, refused to take her home when she asked, performed oral sex on her as she asked him to stop, raped her (no, not the "statutory" kind, the "forcible" kind), and sodomized her. In a plea bargain Polanski pled to unlawful sex with a minor.

As is common knowledge, Polanski has his defenders because he has made some terrific movies. For example, critic Tom Shales says: "There is, apparently, more to this crime than it would seem, and it may sound like a hollow defense, but in Hollywood I am not sure a 13-year-old is really a 13-year-old."

Here's today's question: "Is it wrong in all times and at all places (even Hollywood) for a 44 year-old man to drug, rape and sodomize a 13 year-old girl?"

For our materialist friends who answer "yes" to the question (as I hope you will), I have a follow-up question: "How can you know that you are right and Polanski's defenders are wrong?"

It's at this point that things took a distressing turn. Here's Arrington:

At first the materialists dodged my second (and much more important) question. But then a brave soul who calls himself "camanintx" took up for the materialist side the gauntlet I had thrown down, and we had the following exchange:

Barry: How can you know that you are right and Polanski's defenders are wrong?

camanintx: Because the society in which I and Polanski (at the time) live in define it as such. Had Polanski lived in 6th century Arabia, he probably would have been treated differently, no?

Barry: Let's assume for the sake of argument that drugging, raping and sodomizing a young girl was considered moral behavior in Arabia between the years 501 and 600 AD [I by no means concede that, but will accept it arguendo]. On the basis of your response, camanintx, I assume you would say that the fact that it was considered moral behavior in the society in which it occurred, is in fact determinative of the morality of the behavior, and therefore if Polanski had done what he did in that place and time it would have been moral. Is that what you are saying?

camanintx: Since morality is a subjective term, yes, that is exactly what I am saying.

In other words, for camanintx, morality is simply a matter of personal taste or (a reflection of the taste of the consensus). Arrington will have none of this foolishness and does a good job of illustrating one of the half dozen or so fundamental errors of camanintx's position. I encourage you to read the rest of his post.

Because I think this is such an important topic I hope to have more to say on it tomorrow.