by John Hawkins | May 9, 2003 1:36 am
“Moralizers”, “Bible Thumpers”, & “Social Conservatives”: I generally prefer to stay away from the fuzzy “Social Conservative” issues because they’re often so subjective & personal to most people that it’s difficult to change minds. Moreover, I’d probably qualify as a “tweener” when it comes to Social Conservatism. I’m more Socially Conservative than the average person, but I’m not in the same ballpark as people like Paul Weyrich, Ralph Reed, James Dobson and Bill O’Reilly. So while I might agree with those guys on many issues, I disagree with them on more than a few as well. For the most part, violence & profanity in movies, music, and video games is a non-issue for me. The same goes for gambling, rappers doing soda commercials, prayer in schools, and a number of other hot button issues with Social Conservatives.
Now although I may disagree with Social Conservatives on some things, I don’t dislike them, feel threatened by them, etc. However, I’ve noticed a strong dislike of Social Conservatism, even among some people on the right that is in my opinion largely unwarranted. The Bill Bennett and Rick Santorum flaps were excellent examples of what I’m talking about. In both cases, the reactions to what both men said was grossly out of proportion to what Santorum said and what Bennett did. Of course, the left is going to bash Conservatives at every opportunity, that’s to be expected. Also, you’re going to have some honest disagreements and political base covering on the right as well.
But, I also noticed two other wellsprings of criticism that came largely from Libertarian leaning righties that I thought were unfair. First off, there are obviously quite a few people out there who have a problem with religion in general. I’m talking about the type of people who are so distrustful of religious people that they think Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson (both of whom I find to be annoying) are wannabe Theocrats and who also rant about how much they can’t stand “Bible Thumpers”.
Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but there’s nothing wrong with thumping a Bible. As a matter of fact, I (and most Americans) like someone like Reagan or Bush 43 who doesn’t mind thumping the Bible once in a while and seems to be genuine about it. You only have to look back to our last President to see that there are far worse alternatives.
The second and more frequent complaint that I’ve seen people on the right make about Social Conservatives is that they tell other people how to live & they’re “moralizers”. Well, who isn’t a “moralizer”, especially when it comes to politics? If you’re a political junky (and many people reading RWN probably qualify), you’re taking positions based on morals day in and day out. People don’t seem to get this point, especially IMO, Libertarians & people on the right heavily influenced by Libertarian thinking. Many Libertarians seem to be under the incorrect impression that because they have “live and let live” point of view about many social issues, they are not taking moral positions on those issues. But, that is incorrect. For example, if you believe that prostitution, smoking pot, and gay marriage should be legal, then in effect, you don’t consider them to be issues of moral consequence serious enough for the government to get involved in. So in effect, you are making a moral judgement by being against getting the government involved.
The response to that is, “Well no, I’m not taking a moral position, I just favor letting people make their own choices.” Well, let’s suppose people decide to use crack, engage in bestiality, walk around naked in a school zone, or if one of the big 3 networks decided to regularly run XXX pornos. I suspect a lot (but not all) of the people complaining about “moralizing” and defending choice would be against letting people “make their own choices” on those issues (or on others we could easily speculate about). Why so? Because they’re willing to make decisions based on morals as well, they just have a different threshold for getting the government involved.
The point of all of this is that a lot of the criticism of Social Conservatives that I’ve seen is largely off target. As per usual, the left’s criticism is easily dismissed. Just ask a left-winger who gets all bent out of shape over the “moralizing” of Social Conservatives if abortion, Affirmative Action, & welfare are moral or immoral and watch the fireworks. But, on the right, I think too many people are attacking Socially Conservative strawmen they’ve set up instead of simply disagreeing with ideas. Attacking someone because you disagree with their position is one thing, but getting all bent out of shape because you think someone “moralizes” or because you have some sort of irrational hatred of all religion is another.
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