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Mark Peach
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When wrong isn't wrong

13 June 2014, 12:01
I have a pet theory right now: it is that as a generalisation, society has lost the ability and conviction to say it as it is: some things are simply wrong.

Here's the groundwork for my theory.

I've spent a while now looking through women's magazines for a writer and an article bold enough to announce to readers that adultery is wrong. I haven't found one yet. I've read about the pain it causes, and copiously, I have read about what drives people to it,  always accompanied by some psychology about failing marriages, unhappiness, being unfulfilled, and always it seems, with a bent to making it seem the reasonable thing to have done given the circumstances.

No one it seems, is able to countenance the view that some women just want sex, with someone else. Old fashioned lust, it appears to me, is constantly marginalised by extraneous reason. What? Women can't lust after someone other than their husbands?

The point is, no one calls them out as lustful creatures who did the wrong thing when they lusted and then acted on it.

For that matter, you try to find a men's magazine article that wags a disapproving finger at its readers to tell them adultery is wrong. I can't.

Show me the television sitcom where parents get to draw a line in the sand and prevail; they're generally portrayed as out-of-touch, archaic, unreasonable, and buffoons. Kids get to rule the world. In fact, in one particularly troubling series, Carly something-or-other, no parents are present, and two pre-teen girls get to make a television show about their exploits while the sole older person, a brother to one of the girls, is a hapless, manipulated, directionless sap.

The same with naughty kids. Why is it we have such a hard time just saying it - some kids are just bloody monsters and have no major psychological reason to be so.

There is the case currently in the media relating how two schoolgirls have been found to have crushed underfoot (presumably) a goldfish while having sex (the so-called crush porn phenomenon - a new one on me). The local education ministry's response is to send them to counselling while they write their mid-year examinations.

Now don't get me wrong - they may be psychologically disturbed and in need of counselling - but are we also prepared to say, as a society, that some things are just plain wrong and that there should be consequences for being wrong and wilful?

I leave you to add your own events when wrong may just be wrong, and where no psychological reasoning is required. I have other points to make.

The first is that there are consequences for this failure to draw a line between right and wrong. The first is that we begin to see ourselves as nations riddled with neuroses and mental deformities when in fact we have just lost the moral compass. The second is that we begin to see ourselves as such, those who try to point us to different path using that moral compass are quickly considered scientific and psychological philistines, stuck in the dark ages. The third is that having spurned the moral compass, we find ourselves with no replacement to draw social boundaries and in effect become herds of mentally damaged animals.

Add your own consequences here. I have one more point to make.

This whole state of affairs has, in my view, begun to infiltrate the minds of writers who, more than anyone else, reflect the state of society.

When last did you read and accept the arguments and viewpoints of authors, and enjoy the book to boot, when the author sees wrong as wrong and portrays it is unacceptable?

Its likely whatever is wrong is padded along the way into long winding descriptions of mental anguish, issues of upbringing, and other psychological defects.

Hell, this sense that wrong may not be so wrong even pervades our criminal justice system: any wrongdoer worth his salt makes sure that he is sent for a psychological assessment where it is likely some practitioner will find a diagnosis to explain the wrongdoing.
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