Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm Right... You're Wrong."

It seems it is unusual these days to hold onto any belief as rigid as that statement and doing so can lead to one being labelled rigid, inflexible, dogmatic… and my personal favourite, extreme.

But let me clarify something here. When I speak of right and wrong in this manner I am not commenting on a societal norm, or a personal choice. I am not trying to apply my personal prejudice to a situation and write off my bias, feelings or upbringing as falling within or defining what is right or wrong.

In order for such a statement to be made (and to be worthy of consideration) the person making it must have reduced the question of right and wrong to its base. Axiomatic to that question is the principal of initiation of force.

The question of the application of force is a moral one. Ayn Rand said “Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where a gun begins.” The issue and the question don’t get any clearer than that.

So where does that lead us? Well, to certainty.

Here is an example…

Circumcision is wrong.

It is wrong not on religious grounds or feelings or even the necessity of the act itself but because it is procedure performed on infants who are neither mature enough to decide nor are they given the opportunity to decide whether to have the operation performed. It is wrong because of the force.

“But…” the argument begins “it is right in certain cultures.”

Really? Would it be “right” to hack off an infant’s left hand if that somehow had evolved as a cultural norm? How about a forefinger at the age of 6 months. Maybe just the ceremonial removal of all a baby’s fingernails?

Would it be right for a man to keep slaves if that was claimed as a historical or cultural norm? How about cannibalism or any of a host of other barbaric practices?


Circumcision is wrong. It is just as wrong as its less acceptable (in western culture) cousin, female genital circumcision (mutilation). And it is wrong for exactly the same reason… The application of force against children or babies that are too young and/or not permitted to decide what happens to their bodies on their own.

Right and wrong are simple concepts, easily divisible, easily discernible. Applied with the proper principal it is quite simple and quite correct to say…

"I'm right, you're wrong."

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