Don Lemon recently had a conversation with CNN’s Chris Cuomo about the question of right and wrong https://www.rawstory.com/2018/11/cnns-don-lemon-explains-rethink-friendships-politics/ . On occasion, popular culture pundits synthesize the issues of the day into concise summaries of a particular truth. rawstory.com perceived this particular ad-lib moment and reposted it to amplify its significance.
“If your friend is espousing policies that are detrimental to women, to gay people, to minorities, whatever, and is on the wrong side of history and seen as racist and on and on, then I think you need to rethink your friendship.”
This is a quote from Don Lemon in the discussion reported by Dominique Jackson. All told they brought up a list of polar opposites: right vs. wrong, good vs. bad, friend vs. ex friend, political vs moral, and while they didn’t say the words specifically, they alluded to political correctness. This all came up around the topic of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and her husband George Conway having ‘indiscreet’ public differences of opinions on Donald Trump. This brief unscheduled and unscripted crossover discussion between talkshow hosts has grown into a delineation of moral indecision.
In earlier times domineering rulers, and/or theologies spelled out the answer to questions of proper behavior. Rules were clear and punishments severe. Over time the responsibility for moral decisions fell primarily to the church. Recently, lets say the past 60 years, religion has proven itself to be a flawed steward of morality, it now ventures into secular politics on every issue. Child abuse, and a litany of morally reprehensible treatments of unwed mothers and others, all of which is hidden within a code of secrecy has changed the popular notion of preachers into vile hypocrites obsessed with sex.
They began their efforts with presumably honorable intentions which have mutated into despicable behaviors under the guise of moral superiority. The cause (sustain the bureaucracy) outweighs the individual and so the human realities are obscured by the church bureaucracy. Morality and moral example on their part are diminished accordingly. They started out as arbiters of good and bad, right or wrong. Now, the status of good vs. bad is not the key issue of morality. The zeitgeist of society has shifted because of our current understanding that many versions of good and bad exist simultaneously. This common knowledge seeps into our daily lives diminishing the value of good v. bad theologies and is replaced by Political Correctness(PC).
Now, to be clear I am not really talking about the PC movement currently bamboozling universities and making fools of themselves as they try to define a fledgling philosophy. As the notion of good vs. bad wanes the rise of the “Golden Rule,” “the rule of reciprocity” steps in to replace it. Now, this has been a secondary element of mystery based theologies all along. PC is merely asserting its supremacy in the discussion of what is moral. It asks the question of coexistence: Can we get along and treat one another fairly? The question of an entities’ good or evil status by arbitrary methods is far less relevant in the PC world.
As an example lets look at religion’s obsession with sex. Gay people are evil and not good in the eye of certain religions. In the realm of PC the person who is gay may be a great neighbor and have lots of friends and be easy to get along with and enjoy and cherish so their PC score is very high. The criteria for acceptance or rejection comes from experience with that person, not arbitrary, mystery-based 2000 year old rules. People see the direct result of experience over backward fantasies espoused by pedophile priests. So, the question becomes whose version of ‘good’ will be the criteria? PC is winning the battle due to the self immolation of Evangelicals and their political support of D. Trump, the endless chronology of abuse in the Catholic church, religion’s lack of relevance for youth, and authoritarian proclivities without the wherewithal to follow through.
Neither a mystery god, nor a threat of hell have enough relevance to be the criteria for living a healthy existence in society any more. So, Don Lemon is saying we should reevaluate our friends according to their personal beliefs. Actually, his term – ‘espouse’ could mean anything from simply having an opinion to preaching it in the public square. This is the crux of the PC decision to keep or change your friends.
Can you get along with a person who has different opinions than you? I don’t expect my friends to have identical points of view; debating questions of the day with friends is boring if you all are on the same side. But if a friend actively seeks to change society in what I consider to be a harmful way then my friendship will be withdrawn as will my placement of them on the PC scale.
But, what about bonds that are stronger than politics? My father produced two gay offspring, my Dad and I still love one another yet we are polar opposites on the political spectrum. Fox News was made just for him, I am sure. He regularly votes against the interests of his gay sons. In his mind any punishments we get from society are earned by us for being this way. So he and I have reached a place where we each come half way towards acceptance of one another. We are polite. I still love him, but he gets low PC marks from me.
If we followed the old religious rules of such things he wouldn’t make the effort to come half way. His theology and conservative bigotry are deflated by love. He had to buck the theologic system that is so inbred he could only come half of the way. Today’s generations have that partial rebellion as a model for their own resistance. They are deciding their allegiances and friendships waste too much time and effort living up to an ancient, fantasy-based god and his stupid rules. I won’t harm you and you won’t harm me. We all get along. Bigotry and its kin – theology, be gone.
[Sorry I have been gone so long, I have been writing a book about the hurricanes on St. Croix and had little time to blog. Bill]