EVERY year at this time the Pope addresses the Vatican diplomatic corps and wherever possible the media like to misinterpret what he says.
Two years ago he is supposed to have compared the destruction of the rainforests with homosexuality, but he didn't even mention homosexuality in that speech.
This year he is supposed to have blamed the sex abuse scandals on the 1970s and to have suggested that we didn't really know child sex abuse was an absolute evil back then.
The reporting this time was a little closer to the truth, but not by much because it gave the false impression that what he had to say was utterly ridiculous and unworthy of consideration.
In fact, in the 1970s there was a movement to legalise sex between children and adults and it was supported by some of the leading lights of the time who believed sexual relationships of this sort weren't evil at all, let alone an absolute evil.
This had been conveniently forgotten until the German magazine, 'Der Spiegel' (itself on the left) reminded us of the fact in an article a few months ago entitled 'The sexual revolution and children: how the left took things too far.'
The article describes the kinderladen movement in Germany set up by leftists in the 1970s as a rival to the kindergarten movement. Its intention was to radicalise very young children, and to 'sexually liberate' them.
'Der Spiegel' describes what this involved: "The educators' notes indicate that they placed a very strong emphasis on sex education. Almost every day, the students played games that involved taking off their clothes, reading porno magazines and pantomiming intercourse."
In addition, the children were encouraged to fondle each other and to fondle adults.
Today, we recognise this as child abuse. But clearly the parents who sent their children to these schools did not consider it as such and neither did the teachers.
How did they justify this? As 'Der Spiegel' makes clear, they believed they were 'liberating' children from 'repressive' and 'bourgeois' notions about child sexuality.
This is what the Pope meant when he told the diplomatic corps: "In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorised as something fully in conformity with man and even with children."
… 'Der Spiegel' also reminds us that, as late as 1985, the Greens' state organisation in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia argued that "nonviolent sexuality' between children and adults should generally be allowed, without any age restrictions". …
What about Jean-Paul Sartre? Is this doyen of leftist philosophers also to be dismissed as unrepresentative of intellectual currents in the 1970s?
In 1977, he and 69 other French leading lights wrote a letter to newspaper 'Le Monde' in which they demanded the release of three men accused of having sex with minors.
It doesn't stop there. In the 1970s a pro-paedophile organisation called the Paedophile Information Exchange was a member of the British Council for Civil Liberties.
The North American Man-Boy Love Association was a member of one of the biggest gay rights movements in the world -- the International Lesbian and Gay Association -- right up until 1993.
This attitude -- ranging from ambivalence towards child/adult sex to outright support -- still continues. Think of those who defended the film director Roman Polanski, among them other famous directors, actors as well as French government ministers.
I cite this story not only because truth deserves a hearing whenever possible, but also to put in perspective a recent exchange I had at another blog:
ME: …if you premise your position by denying anything at all is objectively evil, you also have no grounds for defending anything at all as objectively good, including fairness, respect, etc.
INTERLOCUTOR: A bitter pill to swallow, but good medicine nonetheless.
ME: Do you recognize that torturing infants is always and everywhere wrong? If so, this is because you implicitly recognize that doing the opposite of torture to infants—loving, nourishing, protecting, teaching, etc.—is always and everywhere good for infants.
INT: My implicit recognition of this is still subjective, not objective. That certain responses are hard-wired into our brains does not make those responses objective, it makes them reliable and near-universal.
ME: If you refuse to defend even those essential goods as objective goods, then your position is self-refuting in terms of its own goals and morally vicious for condoning behavior like Vlad’s as morally acceptable.
INT: I see many claims that, sans objective morality, no one has the right to say something else is immoral. What I don't see is a solid basis upon which such claims rest. Rather, they come off as rhetoric from people trying to use the fallacious reasoning from undesired consequences.
ME: ... is marriage between a father and his daughter also acceptable to you? If not, why not?
INT: Fathers and daughters, even brothers and sisters, do not have an equitable standing before any putative romantic relationship.
Regardless how open-minded, unsentimental, rational, and so on, my interlocutor believes his statutory relativism to be, it is itself a naive form of Romantic idealism––which is to say, dogmatism with satin gloves. The best argument against such relativism is not about "slippery slopes", but, as I noted in the exchange above, that it is simply incoherent. For if nothing is really wrong, then nothing is really right; and if nothing is really right, then the State has no right to impose its views on right and wrong. If the key tactic in a moral system is to deny that anything at all is objectively evil, then adherents of that morality eo ipso have no grounds for defending anything at all as objectively good, including fairness, respect, etc. Do we not recognize that torturing infants is always and everywhere wrong? If so, this is because we implicitly recognize that doing the opposite of torture to infants—loving, nourishing, protecting, teaching, etc.—is always and everywhere good for infants. And there’s objective morality, entrenched at the core of allegedly relativist morality. If the relativist refuses to defend even those essential ends as objective goods, then his position is self-refuting in terms of its own goals and morally vicious for condoning behavior like Vlad’s as morally acceptable. A morality that would condone the torture of infants in the name of a higher principle like "open-mindedness" morally disqualifies itself.
Hence, it is a red herring to dismiss anti-gay-marriage arguments as "slippery slope" arguments, since any argument can be so construed. Consider my interlocutor's penultimate remark:
I see many claims that, sans objective morality, no one has the right to say something else is immoral. What I don't see is a solid basis upon which such claims rest. Rather, they come off as rhetoric from people trying to use the fallacious reasoning from undesired consequences.
As much as he disdains arguing from "undesired consequences," his own position is rife with such logic, since, for him, among the most undesirable consequences he can foresee are the imposition of religious absolutism and the decline of fairness, respect, and the like. All moral arguments are advanced in favor of something, and therefore all rebuttals to opposing moral standpoints amount to "slippery slope" arguments, in so far as all moral arguments strive to avoid the principled loss, and then progressive loss, of a favored good or favored goods.