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Mon Sep 3, 2018, 04:37 PM

The myth of moral equivalence

There can be perverse attempts to "contextualize" human failings by decontextualizing. One version of this goes like this.
-People commit crimes.
-Institutions cover up criminal behavior.
-Therefore all people who commit crimes and all institutions who cover up crimes are all morally equivalent.

To demonstrate the fallacy of this. I will compare two theoretical Catholic Diocese on opposite ends of an extremes.

In Diocese A, there is a network of janitors who steal cleaning supplies and sell them on Ebay. About 5% of the janitors are in this network. They assist each other in locating valuable supplies and removing them from church property. The bishop of this diocese is aware of the theft, but does nothing to stop it.

In Diocese B, there is a network of serial killer priests. About 5% of the priests are serial killers. They assist each other in locating victims, killing them and hiding the bodies. The Vatican is aware of the murders, but does nothing to stop it.

Are these two situations morally equivalent? Even though we know each component of each story happens individually, when we put them all together, do both shock the conscience equally? Do both have the same implications for the church as a whole? It's simply absurd to think they do. Yet that's what some argue.

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Arrow 57 replies Author Time Post
Reply The myth of moral equivalence (Original post)
marylandblue Sep 2018 OP
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #1
marylandblue Sep 2018 #2
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #4
marylandblue Sep 2018 #10
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #11
MineralMan Sep 2018 #12
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #14
marylandblue Sep 2018 #13
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #15
marylandblue Sep 2018 #16
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #19
marylandblue Sep 2018 #20
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #21
Act_of_Reparation Sep 2018 #36
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #40
Act_of_Reparation Sep 2018 #46
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #48
Act_of_Reparation Sep 2018 #51
trotsky Sep 2018 #31
qazplm135 Sep 2018 #37
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #42
qazplm135 Sep 2018 #49
digonswine Sep 2018 #17
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #18
digonswine Sep 2018 #22
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #23
marylandblue Sep 2018 #24
trotsky Sep 2018 #32
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #41
trotsky Sep 2018 #45
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #47
trotsky Sep 2018 #50
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #52
trotsky Sep 2018 #53
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #54
trotsky Sep 2018 #55
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #56
trotsky Sep 2018 #57
Lordquinton Sep 2018 #27
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #38
Lordquinton Sep 2018 #44
Lordquinton Sep 2018 #26
MineralMan Sep 2018 #5
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #7
MineralMan Sep 2018 #9
trotsky Sep 2018 #33
Lordquinton Sep 2018 #25
Major Nikon Sep 2018 #29
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #39
Major Nikon Sep 2018 #43
MineralMan Sep 2018 #3
guillaumeb Sep 2018 #6
MineralMan Sep 2018 #8
Bernardo de La Paz Sep 2018 #28
Major Nikon Sep 2018 #30
trotsky Sep 2018 #34
Iggo Sep 2018 #35

Response to marylandblue (Original post)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 05:00 PM

1. And where are these attempts at excusing criminal behavior?

You are improperly using the tu quoque fallacy, also called "whataboutism", but key to understanding "whataboutism " is to remember that it is used to say that because all or many people do something, it is therefore somehow excusable.

And none of the posts that I have read here make the argument that sexual predation is excusable. If you have seen such posts, feel free to link to them.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #1)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 05:05 PM

2. I did not say anything was excusable or that there was any attempt at excusing behavior

IMHO, whataboutism isn't about excusing bad behavior, but distracting from it.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #2)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 05:07 PM

4. No, it is implicitly excusing by claiming that everyone does it.

And I asked for examples.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #4)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 05:42 PM

10. I will give you the examples, but I am not sure how to take your answer

My OP didn't accuse you of attempting to excuse bad behavior, or even really engage in whataboutism (even though it may have been that too). Rather, I am saying you engaged in the "myth of moral equivalence" which is the failure to distinguish between different levels of evil.

https://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1218&pid=292175

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #10)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 05:46 PM

11. I agree that there are levels of evil.

A murder is terrible, but genocide is worse.


The tu quoque fallacy is used to excuse behavior by stating that everyone does it. And I have seen no such excuse offered at DU by anyone.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #11)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 05:57 PM

12. Except you.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #12)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 06:00 PM

14. Demonstrating only that you misunderstand the proper application of the fallacy.

Well done. Or something.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #11)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 05:59 PM

13. Again, I did not say that you engaged in tu quoque

Rather, you presented a group of examples that are not as bad as the RCC scandal. In my view, this distracts from the particular degree of moral depravity displayed by the Church.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #13)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 06:01 PM

15. I understand.

And my post points out that sexual predation, and covering up for it, is not something that is only found in the RCC.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #15)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 06:14 PM

16. Yes, but do you really think people were not aware of that?

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #16)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 08:33 PM

19. I am not certain.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #19)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 08:37 PM

20. Maybe you should ask?

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #20)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 08:39 PM

21. Perhaps. eom

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #21)

Wed Sep 5, 2018, 11:14 AM

36. Glad you asked.

No. I do not believe child rape is a problem confined to the Catholic Church.

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Response to Act_of_Reparation (Reply #36)

Wed Sep 5, 2018, 08:03 PM

40. We agree. eom

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #40)

Thu Sep 6, 2018, 10:07 AM

46. No, we don't.

One of us still thinks it's a problem. The other is busy making excuses.

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Response to Act_of_Reparation (Reply #46)

Thu Sep 6, 2018, 06:01 PM

48. You are incorrect. eom

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #48)

Fri Sep 7, 2018, 10:16 AM

51. How does it go...

"I understand your need to think that way."

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #19)

Wed Sep 5, 2018, 10:15 AM

31. Well, be certain now.

NO ONE HERE HAS EVER SAID THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ABUSE IS CONFINED TO RELIGION, OR A PARTICULAR RELIGION.

You are arguing against an evil straw man atheist again. You always do, because you've found him very easy to "defeat."

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #15)

Wed Sep 5, 2018, 03:27 PM

37. Let's take one example, the military

I'm an Army JAG. I've defended and prosecuted, supervised the defense and prosecution of, and done appeals for a ton of sexual assault cases. I've seen strong, weak and close cases. I've seen the process of bringing a case from start to finish at dozens of military installations with varying degrees of competence.

I can tell you pretty strongly that comparing the military's handling of sexual assault cases to the RCC's handling of priest abuse cases is comparing an ice cube to an iceberg.

1. The military has to actively report on at least an annual basis all restricted and unrestricted reports of sexual assault. And often there are congressional data calls on a more frequent basis. I remember answering Senator McCaskill's requests for data on almost a monthly basis when I was a chief prosecutor of a base in Missouri.

2. The laws governing sexual assault have been changed significantly roughly 4 times since 2007 in the military. Every change has been focused on increasing convictions and rights for alleged victims, none have been focused on increasing rights for the accused. Every change has made it more likely that cases go to trial, not less.

So you can believe the military aint there yet and has problems, but you cannot argue that attempts at transparency haven't happened or that changes in practice haven't happened.

The RCC has done very little changing to transparency or practice.

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Response to qazplm135 (Reply #37)

Wed Sep 5, 2018, 08:06 PM

42. I have linked to many articles demonstrating how covering up sexual assault is

SOP in the US military.

And what is written compared to what is actually done, can be very different.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #42)

Thu Sep 6, 2018, 08:00 PM

49. lol

no, it isn't.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #11)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 06:15 PM

17. I just started the book Idiot America--by Charles P. Pierce-

I just got through a part that mentions an electric scandal of abuse cover-ups---in 2003. Surely, that's the end of THAT!
That's like, what, 15 years ago? When I am 60, I assume I will, yet again, be scandalized by another pedo coverup in the church.
But the fact is--EVERY organization that deals with young kids has its problems, AMIRIGHT!? Surely this is just the human condition!!
All organizations engage in this type of thing. Right? Also-there is nothing that can be done until we rid society of these nasty proclivities! Look over there at the Boy Scouts--they are just as bad!!

BTW-your WHATBOUTISM is on full display in this forum.

Note to self: place a puke-bucket to the right of my computer chair.

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Response to digonswine (Reply #17)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 08:33 PM

18. You need to research what you accuse me of.

Mainly because you are incorrect in your understanding of the fallacy, and more importantly, the reason that it is used.

It is used to justify or minimize and none of my posts justify or minimize what occurred.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #18)

Tue Sep 4, 2018, 05:44 PM

22. I was referring to another post of yours--

https://upload.democraticunderground.com/1218292175

I can't read your mind, but have read many of your posts. To me-it would appear that you took an interest in understanding the dynamics within organizations that lead to cover-ups, etc. in an attempt to make the church seem less special regarding this issue. I don't believe that you think what they have done is OK by any means, but it fits in with your previous defenses.

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Response to digonswine (Reply #22)

Tue Sep 4, 2018, 05:56 PM

23. I criticized the sexual predation,

and called the cover up even worse. If you see this as a defense, I suggest you present one of my posts that defends predation, or excuses it, or minimizes it.

And yes, my intent was to show that sexual predation and other offenses are often covered up by members of an institution. But, as my personal comments indicated, the cover up is worse than the sexual predation.

The church is unique only in that it is a religious organization.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #23)

Tue Sep 4, 2018, 08:04 PM

24. No there are other things that make the RCC stand out

among organizations that engage in coverups. Also, it stands out among religious organizations.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #23)

Wed Sep 5, 2018, 10:27 AM

32. What you are doing is pointing out that abuse and coverup has happened elsewhere,

and in doing so, you believe you absolve religion itself from ANY role in sexual abuse and coverup ANYWHERE.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #32)

Wed Sep 5, 2018, 08:04 PM

41. What you did was demonstrate that you misunderstood what I wrote, and have written.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #41)

Thu Sep 6, 2018, 08:33 AM

45. Bullshit.

Then explain yourself.

Bet you won't - you'll just imply I'm stupid again.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #45)

Thu Sep 6, 2018, 05:58 PM

47. No, you are obviously intelligent,

but your reading of my post about the RCC is curious in that your conclusion is refuted by the existence of my post.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #47)

Fri Sep 7, 2018, 08:27 AM

50. Then explain it.

Go ahead.

Unless you're just using "you don't understand" as a way to admit you can't.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #50)

Fri Sep 7, 2018, 12:48 PM

52. No, reread the thread.

My explanation is there.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #52)

Fri Sep 7, 2018, 03:05 PM

53. I don't see it.

Can you direct me to the exact post and explain, please?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #53)

Fri Sep 7, 2018, 03:09 PM

54. Yes.

Your assertion:

What you are doing is pointing out that abuse and coverup has happened elsewhere,

and in doing so, you believe you absolve religion itself from ANY role in sexual abuse and coverup ANYWHERE.




What I actually wrote:

What causes the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) to hide the problem of pedophile priests?

My thoughts on the issue:

Looking at the last entry, dealing with sexual abuse of a minor, we see that 95% of children are abused by someone that they know, and that 50% of those who molest a young child are family members.

We know that sexualized violence is a human trait.

We know that those who commit sexualized violence are predators.

We know that predators will be found where the potential victims are found. A deer hunter does not hunt for deer in an urban area. The hunter goes where the deer are to be found. And these predators are on the hunt for their victims, so it makes sense that they will be found wherever there are victims.

In the case of the RCC, we have a male priesthood, and if males make up 90% of those who sexually abuse children, it stands to reason that in a predominantly male group, the likelihood of finding predators is apparent.

Again, in the case of the RCC, we have a very hierarchical institution, and given the frequency with which institutions tend to protect their own, we can understand, but we cannot excuse, why the RCC felt it was necessary to close ranks around their offenders.

We also know, as I have pointed out by linking to my posts here, that RCC Canon Law was, and remains, written to keep child abuse “in house”, in the RCC itself.
A similar problem can be found in the military, where Commanders have often hidden sex crimes committed under their command.
A similar problem can be found in the police forces, where some officers obviously have an “us versus them” mentality when they cover for their own.

Almost as if all of these various groupings function somewhat like a tribe, where the interests of tribe members override other interests.

My personal conclusion:
Unfortunately, sexual abuse is a human trait. A certain percentage of humans will abuse others if they can do so. This does not excuse the abuse, nor does it excuse the even more egregious act of covering up sexual abuse.
In my view, the cover up is definitely worse than the crime.
Finally, as I pointed out here and elsewhere, there can be no excusing sexual violence. Sexualized violence is primarily violence and aggression, and we all, as individuals and as members of institutions, have an obligation to expose it when we find it.


Now, you explain to me where I engaged in a cover up or avoidance.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #54)

Fri Sep 7, 2018, 03:37 PM

55. Read this again:

https://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1218&pid=292571

You make NO mention of the specific role that religious beliefs (namely, the belief that canon law is supreme to secular law) played in the crimes.

You are STILL trying to absolve religion and religious beliefs from any role whatsoever, when they CLEARLY played one here.

Every damn one of your "points" above is whataboutism. Rather than discuss the specific scandal in the RCC, you instead deflect and redirect to the larger issue of child and/or sexual abuse.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #55)

Sat Sep 8, 2018, 01:38 PM

56. Utter nonsense.

I can only conclude that you did not read the actual original post, or my response here. And that is why no substantive discussion can take place.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #56)

Mon Sep 10, 2018, 08:43 AM

57. Ol' one-note gil.

Rather than actually address what was said, you accuse me of being incapable of understanding your post - without offering any further explanation whatsoever.

I guess you surrender yet again.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #11)

Tue Sep 4, 2018, 09:38 PM

27. Whataboutism / tu quoque

A simple Google search will tell you why.

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Response to Lordquinton (Reply #27)

Wed Sep 5, 2018, 07:57 PM

38. And when you understand why it is used, you will see that it does not apply.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #38)

Thu Sep 6, 2018, 12:21 AM

44. Oh, my mistake

that should have read Whataboutism =/= tu quoque

They are not the same.

I am curious, of all the replies I had to your posts, why did you respond to this one?

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #4)

Tue Sep 4, 2018, 09:37 PM

26. Examples based on your incorrect statement?

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #2)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 05:08 PM

5. +100

Excusing the distraction is tantamount to excusing the transgression, IMO.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #5)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 05:10 PM

7. Feel free to point out these DU posts.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #7)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 05:12 PM

9. ..

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #7)

Wed Sep 5, 2018, 10:27 AM

33. Do your own research.

That's your response to everyone else when you make a claim they don't accept.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #1)

Tue Sep 4, 2018, 09:36 PM

25. You are wrong

On so many levels it's not worth going into detail, just all of it.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #1)

Tue Sep 4, 2018, 10:43 PM

29. You need to read the definition again

I suggest you do so slower and with more effort.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #29)

Wed Sep 5, 2018, 08:00 PM

39. One of us does, indeed.

Or you could ask someone familiar with the concept.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #39)

Wed Sep 5, 2018, 11:11 PM

43. You have convinced your fan club

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Response to marylandblue (Original post)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 05:06 PM

3. Exactly.

In some ways, sexual abuse of children is worse than murder. The victims have long lives to lead, with that as the absolute low point of them. I cannot think of a worse crime to commit, frankly. And to cover it up and pretend it didn't happen? Unconscionable!

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #3)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 05:09 PM

6. Small comfort for the families of murder victims,

as well as their families who also have lives to lead.

And as I pointed out, in my view the cover up is as terrible as the crime itself.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #6)

Mon Sep 3, 2018, 05:11 PM

8. No. That is a horrible crime, too.

Child sexual abuse, in my opinion is worse. Both the victim AND the families suffer.

That, my DU acquaintance, is my opinion. Goodbye.

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Response to marylandblue (Original post)

Tue Sep 4, 2018, 09:43 PM

28. +1. . . . nt

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Response to marylandblue (Original post)

Tue Sep 4, 2018, 10:55 PM

30. Not to mention the entire effort is designed to distract

The scale of the RCC’s crimes have no comparison. No other organization engaged in this level of volume of child rape. No other organization has done this for so many generations. No other organization has gone to such lengths to protect child rapists. One of the biggest reasons they are able to do so for so long even after being exposed is because of apologists who make excuses for the behavior.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #30)

Wed Sep 5, 2018, 10:47 AM

34. But we aren't (religion) allowed to mention (religion) what makes the RCC (religion)

unique when (religion) it comes to (religion) abuse and coverup (religion).

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #30)

Wed Sep 5, 2018, 10:52 AM

35. It's the people in the pews.

Their presence condones it.

Their money supports it.

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