No such thing as 'private' morality (letter)by Gerard GoiranNews Weekly
, February 3, 2007
In your Canberra Observed
column (News Weekly
, January 20, 2007), you state: "Mr Rudd has argued that being a Christian politician is more about being concerned with social justice issues rather than strictly moral issues, and in taking the side of the marginalised, the vulnerable and the oppressed."
Kevin Rudd should understand that this is a statement that could be made by any number of non-Christian parliamentarians. Indeed, this is the type of statement that the Greens - who strongly object to any Christian influence in politics - like to make.
If justice (according to the Collins English Dictionary) is "the moral principle that determines the fairness of actions", social justice can only be part and parcel of a particular type of morality. I think Kevin Rudd would agree with this. However, he would probably make a distinction between what some call "private" and "public" morality.
Those who support this dichotomy put asylum-seekers, global warming and Aboriginal reconciliation in the public morality basket because they believe that these issues impact on Australian society at large. For these people, social justice issues and public morality issues are one and the same. They believe there is a right and wrong answer to these issues.
On the other hand, they argue that there are a number of other "strictly moral issues" for which there is no right or wrong answer. It is a matter of personal choice.
Among these private morality issues, we find things such as pornography, abortion and sexual freedom. The claim is made that there is no right or wrong answer on these issues because they only concern the individual or the individual in his relationship with another individual, but not society at large.
This is why we hear often that we should be allowed to read and watch what we want.
Readers of News Weekly
will undoubtedly appreciate that this false dichotomy between private and public morality is very much at the root of the social malaise Australia is experiencing as a nation.
Kevin Rudd should understand that all morality is public because sooner or later everything we do or think in private has consequences on the rest of society.
Furthermore, even if morality could be classified into convenient public and private compartments, how could we justify that only public moral issues have a right and wrong answer?
After all, if our postmodernist thinkers reject the concept of absolute truth, how can they then apply it to a particular type of morality and not to another?Gerard Goiran,
(Gerard Goiran is national deputy president of the Christian Democratic Party and has been endorsed as the lead Senate candidate in Western Australia at this year's Federal election).