There are so many angles one could take on the current morass of moral mayhem floating in the NFL miasma right now. If this the sport of our culture we should be ashamed indeed, or at least ready to take a long look in the mirror. One of my favorite novels of recent vintage, Rash by Pete Hautman, imagined a future where football has been banned in America because it is too violent.
On the flipside of Hautman’s forward looking I want to talk about looking backward. I want eviscerate one claim in particular that has been made in one of the NFL scandals, Adrian Peterson’s vicious whipping of his four year-old son. Peterson and others have defended his actions by saying “That’s how they were raised.” or “That’s how it has always been done… [in their subculture.]”
Regardless, of how one feels about spanking, the claim to correctness of any behavior on the basis of ancestry and the way it has always been done is specious, prima facie. It is one of the quickest routes to totalitarianism and fascism because it brooks no debate.
It was used by the Imperial Armies of Japan in World War II to justify some of their worst offenses. It was used in America to defend slavery, child labor, animal cruelty, among many, many other abhorrent practices that were once the norm.
I firmly believe that appeals to either utilitarian calculus or morality are far superior. You can evaluate claims and counterclaims by either of those methods. When Adrian Peterson appeals to tradition and someone like Charles Barkley clumsily attempts to defend him, it is repugnant, they are condoning child abuse. Precepts rooted in the same ground are advanced in much loftier corridors by people like Scalia and Bork to defend equally repugnant practices of government.
Whatever the weaknesses of democracy, reasoning must trump appeals to ancestry and tradition. Debate is an imperative, if messy, subjective, and agonizingly slow way to make policy. Further, open debate is far superior to one where information is controlled by powerful, elite entities.
What did Winny say?
democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried…
“From the Editor’s Desk” is written by our Editor: Aaron Mandel
1.a general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought.
synonyms: principle, rule, tenet, canon, doctrine, command, order, decree, dictate, dictum, injunction, commandment; More
2.a writ or warrant.