Thursday, October 7, 2010


by SGIME(Sand Gets In My Eyes)

My son attends my alma mater back in the States, a Christian, liberal arts college in a large and diverse urban center. It's a great - if somewhat socially left - school which lays down a fabulous foundation for accurate and critical thinking as well as what I call terminal curiosity. That more than anything, has prompted some interesting conversations between my son and I - and not a few opportunities for life lessons - like the one we had the other day.

Now, I don't usually write much about my kids or my family at all, for that matter. But this particular event - well I think it's worth sharing.

Let me set it up.

This past week in an anthropology course, the professor was preaching cultural relativism.

Cultural relativism, you'll recall, is the principle that an individual human's beliefs and activities should be understood by others in terms of that individual's own culture. In other words, the idea that ethics - that the very definition of good and evil - are (and even must be) seen as individual choices.

Cultural relativism sees nothing inherently wrong (and nothing inherently good) with any cultural expression. So, the ancient Mayan practices of self-mutilation and human sacrifice are neither good nor bad; they are simply cultural distinctives, akin to the American custom of shooting fireworks on the Fourth of July. Human sacrifice and fireworks—both are simply different products of separate socialization.

Frequent readers know this is not a lie I subscribe to!

I believe there are hard and fast definitions and examples of good and evil, and right and wrong. There are, I believe, social values and expectations which transcend any one culture and draw us back to our common roots of humanity and decency. Without agreement on those common roots there can be no common ground.

Probably because it is a topic I have never wavered on, my son has a pretty clear picture of where mom stands. But that sure didn't stop him from aping his prof during his morning call home.

"What's so bad about letting everyone just do their own thing?" he asked. "Why should it matter to you what others do?"

Lucky for me - and I think for him - I'd just visited John over at Crossroads Arabia, and was armed with a perfect example.

Turns out there's a Muslim immigrant living in
New Jersey who was recently given a pass by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Joseph Charles for repeatedly raping his wife. In addition to being a superior court judge, Charles is also apparently a believer in cultural relativism.

Here's his justification for letting the rapist go unpunished, despite, what he calls "clear proof" that rape occurred on at least two occasions:
"On June 30, 2009, a New Jersey judge first “rendered an oral opinion,” then a written record which, while not available, is quoted in the Appeal decision. While [the rape victim] had “proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the [rapist] had engaged in harassment, and assault … the [rape victim] had not proven criminal restraint, sexual assault or criminal sexual contact.” In fact, the judge felt that this husband was “operating under his belief that (sexual contact) was consistent with his practices and was not something (these practices) prohibited.”
The victim testified before Judge Charles that prior to the second rape, her rapist said, "This is according to our religion. You are my wife, and I can do anything to you."

Judge Charles apparently agreed.

(BTW just in case you're interested, here is the good judge's contact information: Judge Joseph Charles, Hudson County Administration Building 595 Newark Avenue Jersey City, 07306 Phone: 201-795-6654, 6655. I've not been able to track down an email for him, but will keep looking.)

And that, I explained to my son, is why I do not, and never will, buy into the dangerous lie of cultural relativism!

Wrong is wrong. Evil is evil. And anyone who suggests otherwise has one foot on a banana peel and the other on the edge of a very steep, very deadly cliff.

I'm happy to report that the
New Jersey appellate court reversed the decision and the rapist has since been convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting his wife. He's looking at 20-years.

And my son? Well my son will be bringing the
New Jersey case to his next class.

No comments: