Please Avoid Scary Anachronisms
Your Dec. 24 article “Councilman, Mayor Accused of Breaking Law” sent me hurdling over the solstice gifts to get to my stash of Rolaids and chamomile tea extract. Two paragraphs into article, I was gripping my Japa Beads with sweaty hands and white knuckles; my defibrillator was out of the box and at the ready.
The fact that someone in government, in the State of California, in the Bay Area, in Alameda, on our own City Council would dredge up such a scary anachronism as “morally” when engaged in civil discourse is shocking; especially so close to the Winter Solstice, the Holiday Season and an election year. Hopefully, there were no Pagans, Trekkies or Existentialists under the age of 30 present.
Traditionally, “morally” or “moral” implies a higher “moral” authority and the demand for blind, uncompromising compliance with his or her “moral” dictates.
“Dictates” is never a nice word in polite society. Worse yet, this “moral” authority is generally depicted as a wrathful deity who is not just placidly sitting in a lotus pose, humming a holy syllable and sniffing sandalwood joss sticks. The deity, like the NSA, is watching and listening in judgement: like Santa.
Furthermore, “morally” refers to Puritanical and Manichean principles of “right” and “wrong” and more odious terms that signify judging by some universal measuring stick. Some dictionaries even associate pejoratives like “chaste,” “virtuous” and “upright” with “morally.”
Danger, Will Robinson, Danger! Just when the bulldozers of laissez faire “moral relativism” had eliminated any traces of “moral high ground” someone spoils it all by invoking “morality” into public discourse. Talk about micro-aggressions!
As my Uncle Cusper used to remind us, “The truly morally superior person is the one who believes in the impossibility of moral superiority.” Some people might dismiss the malapropism as just an innocent — oops, I mean mindless — Freudian or Calvinist slip.
The ever-prudent and always-sagacious Mayor Trish Spencer is wise to side-step the morass of “moral” considerations when serving a secular constituency.
The suggested slush fund, that Miss Trish objected to, was not a “moral” issue; it was a “legal” issue.
As Inspector Javert, the French philosopher and unsung hero of Les Miserables, who lead the crusade against bread thieves, once said, “There is only the law.”
Government, particularly in an unshackled, ambiguous amoral society, should stick to what is “legally binding” and not trust viscera, conscience, morality, the entrails of birds or Ouija boards in making decisions of gravitas.
Mayor Trish is right … sorry, I mean … correct in her decision.
Jeffrey R Smith is a sidewalk politician, and armchair liberal and a bar-rail philosopher.