Defining virtue as an attitude instead of actions

RE: Duck Dynasty – When I was a young man the refrain went something like, “If you don’t like it, change the channel.”  I don’t watch the show but personally find it less offensive than most of pop culture.

When a majority finds something offensive it’s transgressive, when a strident minority finds something offensive it’s suddenly something worth destroying careers and lives over.

The Duck imbroglio reminds me why I remain a Republican:  they’re better on the 1st and 2nd Amendments (a bit, and much!, respectively).  Now that the Left have become the clerics of the culture, they’ve succumbed to the same authoritarian impulse as religious nuts.

From David French’s Free speech wars:  You are what you say, not what you do

Peruse the pages of lefty news outlets like the Huffington Post and you’ll routinely run across headlines like, ”[Insert Celebrity Name] said WHAT?!?” or “[Insert previously unknown individual] fired for insensitive remarks.” Even the conservative press can sometimes feel like an engine of perpetual outrage over hateful or insensitive comments.

These “two minutes hates” are deeply corrosive to our free-speech culture, but they’re also the inevitable outgrowth of succeeding generations that increasingly define virtue not through actions but through attitudes. In other words, watch what I say. What I do is irrelevant. You’re a bad person if you say the wrong things, no matter what you might do for your family or your fellow man. A lifetime of good works can be rendered irrelevant by a single thoughtless tweet…

We’re developing a culture of easy virtue — where concern for the poor can substitute for helping the poor, where the right words can cover the wrong actions, and where thumbing out 140 outraged characters constitutes “social action,” so long as you choose the right target for your hate.

Or, as Theodore Dalrymple once wrote:

It is difficult now to imagine a modern university intellectual saying something as simple and unequivocal as “I disagree with what you say, but I defend to the death your right to say it.” He would be more likely to think, if not actually to say out loud or in public, “I disagree with what you say and therefore rationalise to the death my right to suppress it.” In public, he would be more circumspect, presenting a suppression of freedom as an actual increase in freedom; that is to say of real freedom, not the kind the leaves everyone free to sleep under a bridge. But he would know perfectly well in his heart that what he was after was power: the greatest power of all, that to shape, mould and colour indelibly the thought of others, a power to which he believes that he has a right by virtue of his superior intellect, training and zeal for the public good.

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