Monday, April 17, 2006

Ethics You Love To Hate

Via Professor Bainbridge, an interesting quote on rage, hate, and politics from the Rev. William Sloan Coffin:
If you love the good, you must hate evil; or else you are sentimental. But if you hate evil more than you love the good, you become a damn good hater! And the world has enough of that kind of activist.

Incidentally, Rev. Coffin is the namesake for Doonesbury character Reverend Scot Sloan.

Loving the good more than you hate the evil...this strikes me as an important lesson many pundits could learn. It's not about fuzzy feelings: "we're all in this together." It's about self-discipline and limitation, preventing justified ethical outrage from descending into moral vigilantism. We hate the evil of terrorism. And justifiably so. But do we hate it more than we love the principles of human dignity? The answer to that question, on an abstract level, can tell us a lot about our torture policy.

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