Thursday, March 9, 2017

Inappropriate and Distasteful

Some readers may be aware that the Marine Corps is in the midst of a bit of scandal. It seems that some Marines, whether current or former isn't clear, took pornographic photos of female Marines which they subsequently and without the consent of the women, posted to the internet.

In other words, the men acted like pigs. The surprise in this brouhaha is that the Marines' conduct is considered outrageous. Let me explain, but first read this excerpt from the story:
[A Marine spokesperson] added that "the Marine Corps is deeply concerned about allegations regarding the derogatory online comments and sharing of salacious photographs in a closed website. This behavior destroys morale, erodes trust, and degrades the individual."

Gen. Robert B. Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, also declined to comment on the specifics of the case. "For anyone to target one of our Marines, online or otherwise, in an inappropriate manner, is distasteful and shows an absence of respect," Neller said. "I expect every Marine to demonstrate the highest integrity and loyalty to fellow Marines at all times, on duty, off-duty, and online."

Sgt. Maj. Ronald Green, the Corps' highest-ranking non-commissioned officer, said these allegations go against the core values of the Marine Corps. "There is no place for this type of demeaning or degrading behavior in our Corps -- this includes our actions online," Green said. "We need to be brutally honest with ourselves and each other. This behavior hurts fellow Marines, family members, and civilians. It is a direct attack on our ethos and legacy."
Well, okay, except that there's something incongruous about this reaction insofar as it represents the reaction of society at large (of course, maybe it doesn't). We teach young men in school that being human isn't anything special, that each of us is just a more highly evolved ape. We teach them that morality is relative and arbitrary, that right and wrong are in the eye of the beholder, that nothing is objectively wrong, and that the only thing that makes something wrong is getting caught. We then place them into a high testosterone crucible such as the Marine Corps, and add to this volatile environment young women whom we place in close contact with these men who are at a stage in life which could be described as hormonal hyperdrive.

Then, after all that, we profess to be shocked and dismayed when we find these young men acting completely consistently with the modern views on anthropology, morality, and sex they've been soaking up since they were in preschool. What foundation have we given them to behave in any other way?

Reflect upon the word choice of Marine Corps commandant, General Neller. The strongest language he seemed able to summon was to call the behavior "inappropriate" and "distasteful." That's pretty lame stuff. He can't seem to bring himself to declare that humiliating another human being is morally wrong or evil, he only says that it offends his, and presumably others', taste, as if offending another person's taste were a compelling reason not to do something.

If that's the most powerful moral rhetoric in the general's arsenal I'm afraid it'll fall a bit short of making the perpetrators feel guilt and remorse for what they've done. Yet it's all that a postmodern, politically correct society permits him to use. The rules of engagement, as it were, imposed by our secular culture force us to use moral language that is the equivalent of shooting bbs in a fire-fight.

So, here's the exit question for those who wish to eliminate all religious grounds for any moral conviction from our public life: Why, exactly, is it wrong to exploit women, or anyone, for that matter, if one has the power and desire to do it?