Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Buchanan on Pace’s Comments

Pat Buchanan writes about Gen. Pace’s comments about DADT at the Worldnutdaily. I especially love this line:

The Washington Post allowed as how Pace “is entitled to his opinions, of course,” but should have considered the “impact of his public expression of intolerance on the men and women he commands.”

But if declaring homosexual acts immoral is an “expression of intolerance,” the Post is charging the Catholic Church and traditional Christians with 2,000 years of intolerance, as well as all U.S. Armed Forces prior to 1993, when homosexuals were routinely severed.

Um. Okay. And that charge would be correct. It’s perfectly legal, in fact constitutionally protected, to express such opinions; but they’re still intolerant. Then there’s this red herring:

What do the moralists at the Post say of Pace’s “intolerance” of adultery? Should the general have first considered the “impact of his public expression of intolerance” on the adulterers in the barracks or officers’ club?

There is a clear difference here: adultery is dishonest and violates the oath of marriage (assuming it’s not an open marriage, in which case I wouldn’t consider it adultery). Homosexuality does not. The first is immoral, the second is not. And then there’s this one:

This brings us to the heart of the matter. Is homosexuality – not the orientation, but the activity – inherently immoral?

On Pace’s side, that homosexuality is immoral, we have the Bible and Quran, 2,000 years of Christianity, Orthodox Judaism and natural law, the moral beliefs of virtually every society to the present, and the laws of every state before the 1960s. Up to 1973, psychiatrists treated it as a disorder. Nations where homosexuality is rampant have been regarded as “decadent.”

Let’s try a similar one:

“On Jefferson Davis’ side, that slavery is immoral, we have the Bible and Quran, 1800 years of Christianity, the moral beliefs of virtually every society from the beginning of human civilization until the late Enligtenment period and the laws of half the states before the 1860s. Up to the mid-1700s, philosophers treated it as a normal state of affairs.”

Works just as well. Appealing merely to tradition, without making a logical argument, is absolutely pointless.

Comments

  1. #1 Royale
    March 15, 2007

    You can also point out that polygamy, bigamy, and concubinery are firmly rooted in Judeo-Christian tradition, if not apparent in many other cultures.

    I bring that when people discuss Biblical “morality.”

  2. #2 John
    March 15, 2007

    Even if I were to grant, and I do not, that homosexual behavior is immoral, that still doesn’t justify DADT.

    We don’t ban married straight people because they might commit an immoral act.

  3. #3 CPT_Doom
    March 15, 2007

    Let’s try a similar one:

    “On Jefferson Davis’ side, that slavery is immoral, we have the Bible and Quran, 1800 years of Christianity, the moral beliefs of virtually every society from the beginning of human civilization until the late Enligtenment period and the laws of half the states before the 1860s. Up to the mid-1700s, philosophers treated it as a normal state of affairs.”

    Hell, let’s go back even further, with regard to that whore, Anne Boelyn:

    On the Catholic Church’s side, that divorce is immoral, we have the Bible and 1500 years of Christianity, the moral beliefs of virtually every society from the beginning of human civilization until the present day and the laws of all civilized countries.

    I mean, if we are going to fight immorality, let’s start off with all the divorced people.

  4. #4 Bill Snedden
    March 15, 2007

    Umm…Ed, I think you meant to say, “On Jefferson Davis’ side, that slavery is moral…”, right?

  5. #5 NonyNony
    March 15, 2007

    “But if declaring homosexual acts immoral is an “expression of intolerance,” the Post is charging the Catholic Church and traditional Christians with 2,000 years of intolerance, as well as all U.S. Armed Forces prior to 1993, when homosexuals were routinely severed.”

    But the Catholic Church and Christian churches ARE INTOLERANT OF HOMOSEXUALITY. They’ll flat out state that they “do not tolerate homosexual behavior” in their members (the ministries themselves are usually under more of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy). Many Christian churches are very proud of their intolerance towards homosexuals and are perfectly willing to go into detail about why they are intolerant and why everyone else should be too. They’ll also go to great lengths to tell you why tolerance is a bad ideal to strive for and how instead you should be intolerant of people who do not conform to their idea of what is “right”.

    I always knew that Buchanan was an idiot, but I thought he at least could understand English and perform some rudimentary logic.

  6. #6 Ted
    March 15, 2007

    But the Catholic Church and Christian churches ARE INTOLERANT OF HOMOSEXUALITY. They’ll flat out state that they “do not tolerate homosexual behavior” in their members (the ministries themselves are usually under more of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy).

    Buchanan is reflecting the official catholic views. He expressly makes a distinction between the orientation and the activity, just like the catechism does.

    From the US Catholic Bishops catechism.

    Chastity and homosexuality

    2357
    Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

    2358
    The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    2359
    Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

    I don’t know what the pope actually says ex cathedra, but the catechism text used in general RCIA doesn’t sound too intolerant, although looking for a human centricity from people that adore the metaphysical is, well, an odd expectation.

    Is to tolerate the same as to approve?

  7. #7 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    March 15, 2007

    Catholic politicians must oppose gay marriage: Pope

    This is an interesting position. The Pope has the authority to determine moral standards of behaviour for Catholics. After all, it’s a top-down organization. But by claiming authority over positions politicians must hold, he seems to be grasping at political power, not just moral authority.

  8. #8 GH
    March 15, 2007

    On the Catholic Church’s side, that divorce is immoral, we have the Bible and 1500 years of Christianity, the moral beliefs of virtually every society from the beginning of human civilization until the present day and the laws of all civilized countries.

    Actually you don’t. The Catholic stance on this issue has been pretty well rebuked in Protestant scholarship using the bible. So you don’t have the bible. And divorce was not/has not been seen as immoral in virtually every society in which it existed, quite the opposite actually it was often seen as a necessity. This is even in the OT.

    Likewise the Catholic church itself didn’t really institute it’s currect policy until the 15th century so at best you have 500 years. There was a debate on how big a sin it actually was even then. Today many priests have lobbied for a change in the church policy thinking it biblically wrong and unforgiving.

    I mean, if we are going to fight immorality, let’s start off with all the divorced people.

    Yes lets bash that woman who leaves the batterer. I know your being sarcastic but it’s just silly.

  9. #9 Poly
    March 15, 2007

    General Comment:

    Personal feelings aside, I get a little tired of all this “intolerance” nonsense.

    The problem is not that Pace may have some personal angst about something, or even an “intolerance” of it – whatever that may mean. Assuming any of that to actually be the case, he’s entitled to it. We certainly don’t want any thought police patrolling people’s minds, do we?

    The problem is about expression. Pace has a job to do now(CJCS) and in the context of that job it is inappropriate to express opinions that may be in conflict with US public policy.

    If, God forbid, we ever get a closet racist or antisemite or Islamaphobe as CJCS, he – or she – would be similarly constrained from expressions of those thoughts for the very same reason.

    When Gen. Pace leaves his current position and becomes a private citizen, he can make all the public pronouncements he wants about anything he desires. I hope that he does, in fact, and that people who feel differently get a chance to confront him. That kind of debate in the public square is important. Not in his current job, however.

  10. #10 attotheobscure
    March 15, 2007

    “On Jefferson Davis’ side, that slavery is moral…”

    Jefferson Davis thought slavery was moral not immoral

  11. #11 mah9
    March 15, 2007

    Well, the latest from the pope on divorce:

    The Pope re-affirmed that Catholics who divorced and remarried could not receive communion. The Church does not recognise divorce.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/03/14/wpope14.xml

  12. #12 Ed Brayton
    March 15, 2007

    Poly-

    I disagree. I don’t think that Pace was wrong to say what he said from an institutional standpoint – he’s the leader of the US military and he was defending the military’s policy. And of course, I think he has every legal right to say what he said. And my problem with it isn’t really that it’s intolerant (though it is). My real problem with it is that it’s wrong. And immoral. And defends discrimination that serves no purpose other than to perpetuate the second class citizen status of gays and lesbians.

  13. #13 GH
    March 15, 2007

    That is sadly correct mah9, but as mentioned many priests find the current policy incorrect. The very conservative, traditional currecnt hierarchy wants to keep the current policy but allow annulments in over 90% of applications for such.

    In my view it is a silly, painful, disgusting doctrine that brings much harm to people.

  14. #14 doctorgoo
    March 15, 2007

    Yes mah9 and GH. If you get divorced and remarry, then the Catholic church has big problems with you.

    But if you get divorced (but call it an anullment) and remarry, then everything is perfectly fine.

  15. #15 Jason
    March 15, 2007

    Ted,

    I don’t know what the pope actually says ex cathedra, but the catechism text used in general RCIA doesn’t sound too intolerant,

    Really? It says that gay people are “objectively disordered” and that any sexual acts between two people of the same sex, no matter how loving or how committed their relationship, are a “grave depravity” (not just a garden-variety “depravity,” mind, but a “grave depravity”). Elsewhere, the Church also describes all same-sex sexual acts as an “intrinsic moral evil.” According to the Catholic Church, the only moral life a gay person can lead is a life devoid of any kind of erotic and romantic relationship that would be meaningful to them, the kind of relationship that most human beings seem to find essential to a happy and satisfying life.

    I’d call that pretty intolerant. In fact, I’d call it despicable. The Catholic Church is despicable.

  16. #16 Poly_math
    March 15, 2007

    Ed:

    You wrote:

    I don’t think that Pace was wrong to say what he said from an institutional standpoint – he’s the leader of the US military and he was defending the military’s policy… I think he has every legal right to say what he said.

    Usually, you get it right but in this case I must correct you. It is not Pace’s job to argue for or argue against declared policy in public. What I am going to say may bother civil libertarians, but the fact is that here in the US we insist – yes, the word is insist – that members of the military defer to lawful public authority, no matter what their personal feelings about the policy may be. Does this mean that miltary personnel give up some of their civil rights? It certainly does mean that.

    Whether this tradition of deference to authority carries the force of law I’ll leave to the lawyers to figure out. But it certainly carries the force of propriety.

    You wrote:

    …my problem with it isn’t really that it’s intolerant… My real problem with it is that it’s wrong. And immoral. And defends discrimination…

    And if General Pace were not in the military, he’d have every right to express himself. Just as you do. But the problem is he doesn’t have every right to express himself. He’d be just as wrong in his current position if he had said that our present policy was incorrect. It just isn’t his place to be making these kind of statements.

    It isn’t as if Pace doesn’t know what his place is. A couple of weeks ago, he was asked what he thought about US policy toward Iran. He answered – correctly – as follows:

    “As the chairman to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I am the senior military advisor to the president, the secretary of defense, the national security council and the Congress. Nowhere in what I just said, did I say I was secretary of state. Your question is a pretty good one. I recommend you consider inviting Secretary (Condoleezza) Rice here next year and asking her

    .

    I don’t know what possessed him to forget his place on this issue.

  17. #17 DuWayne
    March 15, 2007

    Ted -

    Is to tolerate the same as to approve?

    Far from it. To tolerate something, implies that one does not approve of it. Ex. I tolerate the noise my neighbor calls music, when he plays it loudly, in the middle of the day. I sure as hell wish he wouldn’t play it at all, but because he doesn’t play it very long and always in the late morning, I tolerate it. To approve, one must accept something. If the church were to say, “we accept homosexuality as a reasonable lifestyle and embrace the rights of homosexuals, no differently than the rights of any others,” I would say that they approve.

  18. #18 Troublesome Frog
    March 15, 2007

    This is an interesting position. The Pope has the authority to determine moral standards of behaviour for Catholics. After all, it’s a top-down organization. But by claiming authority over positions politicians must hold, he seems to be grasping at political power, not just moral authority.

    That’s kind of an interesting situation, given that it took quite a while for us to start electing Catholic politicians for fear that they’d be puppets of the Pope. Now that those worries have basically fallen by the wayside, we have Catholic leadership doing their level best to lend credence to that paranoia. Weird.

  19. #19 slavdude
    March 15, 2007

    On Pace’s side, that homosexuality is immoral, we have the Bible and Quran, 2,000 years of Christianity, Orthodox Judaism and natural law, the moral beliefs of virtually every society to the present, and the laws of every state before the 1960s.

    Uh, hasn’t he heard of the ancient Greeks?

  20. #20 Jason
    March 15, 2007

    Now that those worries have basically fallen by the wayside, we have Catholic leadership doing their level best to lend credence to that paranoia. Weird.

    Isn’t it, though? I think the Catholic Church is walking a tightrope on this. On the one hand, if they don’t do anything in response to open defiance of important Church teachings by high-profile Catholic public figures, especially politicians, then they are likely to be seen as weak and largely indifferent to their own doctrines. On the other hand, if they get serious about punishing such defiance, if they follow through on their threats and actually deny communion to such politicians, or whatever the penalty may be, then they are likely to be seen as mean and authoritarian and extreme even by most of the Catholic laity, who tend to reject much of Church teaching themselves. The Church is really caught between a rock and hard place.

  21. #21 Ted
    March 15, 2007

    Far from it. To tolerate something, implies that one does not approve of it. Ex. I tolerate the noise my neighbor calls music, when he plays it loudly, in the middle of the day. I sure as hell wish he wouldn’t play it at all, but because he doesn’t play it very long and always in the late morning, I tolerate it. To approve, one must accept something. If the church were to say, “we accept homosexuality as a reasonable lifestyle and embrace the rights of homosexuals, no differently than the rights of any others,” I would say that they approve.

    That’s what I thought too.

    So what is that we want? Do we want the Catholics to be tolerant or to approve? Because one of them seems to be more action oriented than the other.

    If I tolerate something, I’m usually pretty passive about it. If I approve of something, I’m right in there high-fiving and hootin.

    I’d call that pretty intolerant. In fact, I’d call it despicable. The Catholic Church is despicable.

    Oh it sounds like you’re the half-empty glass kind of guy. I was focusing more on the They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided thing.

    In that sense, they weren’t suggesting the ovens, branding anyone, or shunning them even. Sounds like if I ran into a Catholic that wanted to lecture me, I’d whip out my laminated paragraph 2358 (wallet sized) and point out that this depravity talk sounds too judgmental for American catholics according to the conference of bishops. If I’m not going to bringing up all the sex he’s having with the wife without producing constant progeny (every seed is sacred playing in the background), they ought to stop visualizing whatever it is that disturbs them.

  22. #22 Jason
    March 15, 2007

    Ted,

    So what is that we want? Do we want the Catholics to be tolerant or to approve?

    Actually, I’d like the Catholic Church to just go away.

    Oh it sounds like you’re the half-empty glass kind of guy. I was focusing more on the They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided thing.

    I don’t think the Church’s claims about the kind of “chaste” life gay people must lead is remotely consistent with compassion or respect. Those are just noise words the Church uses to try and disguise the soul-destroying nature of its teachings on homosexuality.

  23. #23 Ted
    March 15, 2007

    Actually, I’d like the Catholic Church to just go away.

    So you’re saying we should be intolerant towards their intolerance because their intolerance is bad but ours is good? Whoa dude, you just blew my relativistic mind.

    Those are just noise words the Church uses to try and disguise the soul-destroying nature of its teachings on homosexuality.

    Why do they affect you so? Does the “soul-destroying” nature of their teachings, destroy your soul? Do the Catholics define your being through their teachings?

  24. #24 doctorgoo
    March 15, 2007

    One thing that I find deplorable about the Catholic church’s involment in American politics is that they’re very selective about which core issues they care about.

    For example, Catholics are instructed not to vote for pro-choice or pro-gay right candidates (which are obviously 99.9% Democrats) all the time (and especially referring to Kerry in 2004).

    But the Catholic church has also come out against capital punishment, too. But do you ever hear an official church position telling Catholics not to vote for particular Republican candidates who happen to be pro-capital punishment? Of course not!

    The Catholic church only promotes Republicans who sin against the core church beliefs… never the Democrats!

  25. #25 Jason
    March 15, 2007

    Ted,

    So you’re saying we should be intolerant towards their intolerance because their intolerance is bad but ours is good?

    That’s right. Intolerance of bad things is a good thing. The Catholic Church’s teachings on homosexuality are a bad thing.

    I’m not sure why you say “ours” rather than “yours,” since you seem to be defensive of the Church’s teachings rather than intolerant of them.

    Why do they affect you so? Does the “soul-destroying” nature of their teachings, destroy your soul? Do the Catholics define your being through their teachings?

    The Catholic Church strongly influences the beliefs and actions of millions of people. Its influence is declining, but still strong. The influence of the Church’s anti-gay teachings is profoundly harmful to gay people.

  26. #26 Dr. X.
    March 15, 2007

    Leaving Buchanan aside for a moment, Pace explained that his views on homosexuality come from his ‘upbringing.’ He said that he was taught as a child that homosexuality is wrong.

    To fall back on one’s upbringing to justify one’s moral condemnation of a large segment of human society is evidence of arrested moral character. Think about it. Pace actually admits that he bases his moral judgments upon his thinking as a child. That is disgraceful in a grown man who has been given an enormous amount of power and trust.

    General Pace does not have the moral capacity to handle the power that he has been given.

  27. #27 MAJeff
    March 15, 2007

    They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided thing.

    This is what we call a lie on the part of the Church, an institution which has, at every opportunity, opposed any action to make the lives of gay people better.

  28. #28 MAJeff
    March 15, 2007

    The Roman Catholic Church claims that placing children in homes headed by same-sex couples is doing spiritual violence to those children. This from an institution that has perpetrated actual violence against children. Why should we give that child-rape protection racket any credence on issues of sexual morality?

  29. #29 Nebogipfel
    March 16, 2007

    Pace actually admits that he bases his moral judgments upon his thinking as a child.

    Tsk tsk. He should read his New Testament more carefully:

    When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

    But then, even the devil may quote Scripture for his own ends… ;-)

  30. #30 Ted
    March 16, 2007

    I’m not sure why you say “ours” rather than “yours,” since you seem to be defensive of the Church’s teachings rather than intolerant of them.

    I don’t understand this “ours” and “yours” thing. I think you misread (or maybe I was particularly obtuse in writing). But that …rather intolerant of them… reminds me of the standard response:

    The homophobic bigots fixate because of deep seated sexual self insecurities.

    to which I’d add the observation, that maybe this follows for the militantly anti-religious. Not that I hold much stock in religious dogma or ethos, but that much personal investment in ridiculing and disproving a culture of supernatural beliefs seems self driven.

    On a personal level, I think that whenever the question of tolerance comes up, it’s worth asking oneself, why do I have this particular inclination? Chemicals? Culture? Media? Deeply seated proclivities that percolate to the top unexpectedly? The MSM passing subliminal messages in micro-clips?

    To fall back on one’s upbringing to justify one’s moral condemnation of a large segment of human society is evidence of arrested moral character.

    So we’re expected to evolve our moral ethos over time? Doesn’t that smack of moral relativism? I thought that the concepts of good and bad/evil were supposed to be explicitly self-evident and immutable.

  31. #31 Dr. X
    March 16, 2007

    Ted said:

    “So we’re expected to evolve our moral ethos over time? Doesn’t that smack of moral relativism? I thought that the concepts of good and bad/evil were supposed to be explicitly self-evident and immutable.”

    Where did you get the idea that the ‘conceptualization’ of good and evil are, in practice, ‘explicitly’ self evident? That notion is not supported by ‘hard’ science or social science; nor does Christian teaching propose that it is ‘explicitly’ self-evident. The ‘heart’ (the ‘heart’ on which the law is written, according to Paul) is a very difficult, tricky thing to discern. The human psyche is full of conceits and self-deception, including in moral matters.

    But returning to the subject of children and morality, it is clear that moral capacity and moral judgment are partly shaped by cognitive capacties. So, for example, if a young child watches juice being poured from one glass into another taller and thinner glass, that child will believe that there is now more liquid in the the taller glass… again, even if the liquid is poured right before the child’s eyes. That same child may fight tooth and nail over being treated unfairly if given the shorter and wider glass while a sibling recieves the taller thinner glass. To the young child the unfairness is explicit and self-evident.

    The child’s cognitive development will progress to the point when he or she can understand conservation of liquid and will no longer object to receiving a drink in the shorter glass. Is that moral relativism?

    Another example: children and many adults think in a literal way that to varying extents obscures an understanding of underlying principals, including moral principals. When a parent tells a child that they are going to take the child to an amusement park and the trip is derailed because of a car breakdown, the child may accuse the parent of ‘lying.’ The child looks at the plan and the outcome and if the two don’t coincide the parent is called a liar. The child can’t understand the a lie is about intent and that intent is not always ‘explicitly’ evident,’ to use your phrasing. Is the parent a moral relativist if the parent understands that there was no lie involved, even though the child can’t help but perceive the parent as having told a lie?

    As we move into more complex areas of life and adult functioning and acquire more complex reasoning capacities, we must still work to develop more refined sensibilities about the application of ‘felt’ moral principals to specific situations where we learn to recognize that self deception, errors in our thinking and limitations in our perspective may obscure our recognition of how a felt sense of morality does not always translate into knowing or doing what is right. An adult can work to discern truth in important matters. By his own admission, Pace just fell back on his thinking as a child. His response to the question about this smacked of moral laziness and the childish literalism of a man who never took up the responsibility to examine his own beliefs with a mature eye.

    For more perspective on the relationship between moral development and cognitive development read Kohlberg Note that Kohlberg discovered that adults to do not universally progress to the highest levels of moral development.

  32. #32 Dr X
    March 17, 2007

    Ted said:

    “So we’re expected to evolve our moral ethos over time? Doesn’t that smack of moral relativism? I thought that the concepts of good and bad/evil were supposed to be explicitly self-evident and immutable.”

    I have a few futher observations about your comment on moral relativism, Ted. First, moral relativism is almost a reflex criticism directed toward those who disagree with the religious right, but what your comment lays bare is that the criticism is often an excuse for not allowing oneself to be challenged.

    The argument you proposed goes like this: if I believed it was wrong when it I was 5-years-old, I don’t have to think about the rightness or wrongness of my position ever again for the rest of my life. Anyone who challenges me is a relativist, because when I was 5-years-old I knew all I would ever need to know about right and wrong.

    I’ll be damned if any of us should be subjugated to the will of someone who is guided by the moral compass of a 5-year-old, even if the 5-year-old inhabits the body of a general. A general is in a position of great public trust and the job should not be held by a morally primitive man.

    Second, when it’s convenient to do so, the Christian right relativizes its moral views at the drop of a hat. For example, the fundamentalist who believes that the words of the bible must be accepted literally searches for qualifications and exceptions to the commandment that forbids killing. This is usually done to morally relativize killing in war or satisfy the thirst for vengeance in the form of executions even though the bible also says vengeance is the Lord’s. I’m not attempting to argue a position on killing in these different circumstances. I’m just emphasizing that the religious right searches for reasons to relativize the morality of certain actions when it is convenient to do so. Those on the right never recognize their own moral relativizing because they stopped thinking about these matters when they were children, well before they could subject their own beliefs to serious critical and moral scrutiny.

  33. #33 Ted
    March 17, 2007

    Dr-X:

    Where did you get the idea that the ‘conceptualization’ of good and evil are, in practice, ‘explicitly’ self evident?

    Probably a faulty amalgamation of various threads that proved too advanced for a solid grasp by me. I was erroneously mixing good and evil with right and wrong.

    Actually, I was being snarky, and now almost regret being so — considering your thoughtful output, but you seem invested in the topic and your first post was more indignant than informative, so …

    I think your implication may be that in addition to experiential inputs, people also mature morally at different rates due to internal variables? If you had to make a judgment, what would that age be if moral guidance from parents received at five is too simplistic to rely on? At the age of maturity (18), age of drinking (21), perhaps at 30 when one gets a few degrees? At 40 when one gains some business experience? At 70 when the outlook can appear detached and observational? Or maybe the age that we treat children as adults for criminal justice incarceration and executions?

    I’ll be damned if any of us should be subjugated to the will of someone who is guided by the moral compass of a 5-year-old, even if the 5-year-old inhabits the body of a general. A general is in a position of great public trust and the job should not be held by a morally primitive man.

    But we don’t have a moral-o-meter that we can hold up to a person and it have it peg for us to indicate the moral temperature of our leaders. I’ve never seen this device being used in HR interviews — although it would be very nifty (but inherently unfair). Instead we depend on experienced people’s subjective judgment and fitness of applicant to task that they’re hired for.

    What’s your moral-o-meter say about any of our politicians, bosses, spouses, parents, et al, to whose will we’re subjugated? I have absolutely NO idea what is in the heart of others, and have no certainty on what’s in my own.

    With regards to Pace, I recently indicated in another thread that Title 10 staffs 5 flag officers per 1000 officers accessed. Which means that at the end of a 30 year period, something like .5% of initial officers will make general through a highly selective process. To assume that Pace is an aberration, assumes a lot because it also assumes that the other 99.5% that didn’t make it, stood by on the sidelines passively while someone that didn’t share the group values and competence moved on. While they may not be the sharpest tools in the shed, I don’t think that this is a passive bunch. So, the further implication is that Pace does in fact reflect (what may be) the arrested values of his peers as well. They just don’t say it because — surprise, surprise — a lot of people get their panties in a wad when it’s articulated.

    Is it at all possible that some institutions do not promote moving beyond Kohlberg’s 4th stage because it doesn’t serve the end function?

    Let me repeat – for the record – I don’t care if Teh Gay serve in the military. If it is a net gain to the mission the republic requires, then fine. If it detracts from the mission so that the result is a net loss; not fine. It’s a utilitarian decision. And that mission definition goes back to us, the people that make up this republic. If the mission is to have redneck praetorians be the blunt enforcement arm for politicians and special interest groups, that would be one thing that defines mission demographics. Or alternately, the mission could be something different that doesn’t depend on redneck praetorians – that may entail a different demographic for effectiveness.

    Thanks for the response.

    (BTW, not that I hold Kohlberg to be the the absolute authority, but I’m definitely a Stage 2 (pretty happy to be there, too lazy to move forward).

  34. #34 DR X
    March 18, 2007

    “What’s your moral-o-meter say about any of our politicians, bosses, spouses, parents, et al, to whose will we’re subjugated? I have absolutely NO idea what is in the heart of others, and have no certainty on what’s in my own.”

    Actually, my ‘moral-o-meter says many people are sadly lacking in terms of moral development but the state does not have, nor should it have, the power to intervene in my opinion. When a general is exposed as lacking in the way Pace is lacking, the state has the authority to do something about it.

    In the past 17 years I’ve done well over 1000 applicant and candidate assessments in which my moral-o-meter as well as my expertise in personality, psychological assessment and psychological testing are crucial to rendering opinions on individuals being considered for positions where an error in my moral-o-meter could have serious consequences. My track record is among the best in my field.

  35. #35 Ted
    March 18, 2007

    Actually, my ‘moral-o-meter says many people are sadly lacking in terms of moral development but the state does not have, nor should it have, the power to intervene in my opinion. When a general is exposed as lacking in the way Pace is lacking, the state has the authority to do something about it.

    Like all sensitive instruments, the moral-o-meter (used to measure others) and the moral compass (used to guide oneself) require frequent recalibration to compensate for the shocks and jarring events encountered during use.

    I should look into getting a moral-o-meter, but that recalibration process often proves difficult and/or inconvenient. From experience, I’ve learned that the moral compass is so troublesome that I hardly ever take it out of its padded case.

    I’ll take you at your word that you can tell the nature of the general’s fitness based on a media snippet or a clumsy phraseology. But, I maintain that there is a different audience in play here; leadership is an art, not a science, and I think that what the General was doing is pandering (leading) to the established base of troops which he needs to command to do some unpleasant things. The entire episode immediately turned into a litmus test where Obama, Hillary and Edwards had to weigh in on (and may I add, they were not uniformly unconfused.)

    I am interested if you have any comments on the relationship of Kohlberg’s scale to institutions rather than individuals. Do you think that artificial entities such as corporations, or the body politic or the military might go through those stages as well and if they do, do they have reason to get to the stages that an individual might?

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