Right and Wrong

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“It isn’t fair, it isn’t right,” Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.”

Shirley Jackson, The Lottery, 1948



A professor is appalled that students are unwilling to say that human sacrifice, as set forth in the short story The Lottery, is wrong:



“The story always impressed the class with the insight that I felt the author had intended: the danger of just ‘going along’ with something habitually, without examining its rationale and value. In spite of the changes that I had witnessed over the years in anthologies and in students’ writing, Jackson’s message about blind conformity always spoke to my students’ sense of right and wrong.”

Then in the 1990s, something started to change dramatically in how her students responded to the sobering tale. Rather than being horrified by it, some claimed they were bored by it, while others thought the ending was “neat.”

When Ms. Haugaard pressed them for more of their thoughts, she was appalled to discover that not one student in the class was willing to say the practice of human sacrifice was morally wrong! She describes one interaction with a student, whom she calls Beth:

“‘Are you asking me if I believe in human sacrifice?’ Beth responded thoughtfully, as though seriously considering all aspects of the question. ‘Well, yes,’ I managed to say. ‘Do you think that the author approved or disapproved of this ritual?’

“I was stunned: This was the [young] woman who wrote so passionately of saving the whales, of concern for the rain forests, of her rescue and tender care of a stray dog. ‘I really don’t know,’ said Beth; ‘If it was a religion of long standing, [who are we to judge]?’”

“For a moment, I couldn’t even respond,” reports Ms. Haugaard. “This woman actually couldn’t seem to bring herself to say plainly that she was against human sacrifice. My classes of a few years before would have burst into nervous giggles at the suggestion. This class was calmly considering it.”

At one point, a student explained she had been taught not to judge, and if this practice worked for them, who was she to argue differently.

Appalled by the student’s moral indifference, Ms. Haugaard concludes, “Today, for the first time in my thirty years of teaching, I looked my students in the eye and not one of them in my class could tell me that this society, this cultural behavior was a bad thing.”


Go here to read the rest.  Well, none of this is surprising.  In my 61 years society has gone from condemning abortion as a serious crime to celebrating it as a constitutional right.  Ditto as to homosexual conduct.  If a society can turn on a dime as to such fundamental moral issues, why should we expect our young to have any firm notions of right and wrong?  Indeed, for large sections of our society “right” and “wrong” are now understood in the ever shifting political categories of the Left.  Thus if you believe that only females should use female bathrooms, you are a hopeless bigot.  If you object to your kids receiving homosexual indoctrination in their schools, likewise.  Once again you are a bigot if you believe that there are only two sexes and that all lives matter.  Moral indifference is not a sign of decay in our young, but rather that they have been paying attention.

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  1. We have had multiple readings from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah in the Daily Readings over the past few weeks. I tend to read not just the small selection, but the entire chapter, and sometimes the one before and after to understand the text in context. The more I read what he wrote, the more convinced I am with posts like this that we live in the same kind of time that he lived in. Child sacrifice, rampant sexual perversion, unbridled humanistic pride. There was punishment for that. God let Sennecharib deport the Northern Kingdom into captivity and He let Nebuchadnezzar deport the Southern Kingdom. Father Kirby alluded to this at Sunday morning’s Mass when he read what Jesus said about a grain of wheat remaining as such unless it dies, at which it will produce much fruit. He said that the people of Israel and Judah did not want to die to self. So as we know they sacrificed their own children in fire to Molech. Father talked directly about the evils of abortion and sodomite marriage. We sadly don’t get much preaching like that any longer.

  2. My boys pointed out something several years ago. We were talking about torture during the big torture debates. We talked about the idea of it being intrinsically evil or not. My sons pointed out that nothing is intrinsically evil, at least as taught in schools. If other cultures tortured or killed or conquered, it was not presented as being wrong or evil in itself. So if Native Americans practiced a form of torture or some such, or some other culture practiced human sacrifice, it wasn’t portrayed as necessarily bad or wrong. It’s just what they did. That’s not how we learned it when I was in school, but does appear how they learn it today. I wonder if there is a connection.

  3. Dave,

    That’s interesting. Conversely, they have been taught that everything that the “West” ever did (since Julius Caesar?) is/was intrinsically evil. If it weren’t for (totally self-unaware) double standards they would have no standard.

  4. Did the professor freaking SLEEP through the lit classes or something?!?!

    OF COURSE not one student would be willing to tell her it was wrong– they spent the last decade or so having it beaten into their skull that if someone asks you an obvious question, the obvious answer is going to get you held up for public mockery and possibly screamed at.

    My high school English teachers would’ve been in college in the 70s, and they both used that method– every English teacher I’ve seen at work does the same **** thing.

    Only an idiot/idealists like me would say yes, it’s wrong, and even then unless it looked like it would be a really good discussion I wouldn’t volunteer that answer. For something where you’ve got to get a passing grade in order to finish college and get to actual adult life? And everyone knows about professors who get angry at students and so fail them– which will lose you your aid/scholarship/grants?

    Seriously, she’s shocked?

  5. T. Shaw-
    as a friend recently observed, the noisy get upset about boarding schools for some Indian tribes, but those tribes’ habit of slaughtering families, stealing the children and raising those they didn’t kill as part of the tribe was fine. Because some chose to stay.
    Also saw no connection between those two….

  6. Lessee. She identifies a phase change around 1995, which would correspond to the 1979 birth cohort, more or less, which would suggest parents born around 1949, give or take a few years. And clergymen of that vintage. And school teachers and administrators of that vintage. And purveyors of mass entertainment of that vintage.

  7. “We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”

  8. T Shaw, Yes, that’s what happened with Multi-Cultural education. The gist of that was supposed to be learning about different cultures afresh for the first time, without judging them. Which is fine, except for what you mention. In fact, the worse we get in judging the West, the more we bend over backwards to excuse anything done in any other culture. And that can sometimes come across as saying there is no right or wrong, but depending on who is doing it at any given time – like it always being wrong when done by the Christian West or America.

  9. I teach bioethics as part of my work with residents. A fair number think there is no problem with abortion for sex selection. Euthanasia is great. Have one resident who brags about having euthanized children in the intensive care unit.

    No moral foundations beyond what society tells them. They laugh at the concept of Good and Evil. Literally laugh.

    My wife comments that these are the people who will be taking care of us in our old age.

    The Second Amendment has a purpose beyond protecting against the government.

  10. “They laugh at the concept of Good and Evil. Literally laugh.”

    They should laugh now, since I doubt if Hell is a laugh riot, especially for the fiend who brags about euthanizing kids. I would love to have their parents, with baseball bats in their hands, hear him bragging.

  11. Phillip said; “My wife comments that these are the people who will be taking care of us in our old age.”

    Taking care or euthanizing us? By then the terms will be synonymous.
    I realize this is a elementary analogy but I believe it is accurate….the water is close to boiling but the frogs feel great. Desensitization is upon us.
    Life has little value to many and that’s the fallout from legalizing abortion in 1973. Hop out of the pot! Quick!

  12. Warning: The Following Lacks Charity!

    But, the public education apocalypse/nation-wide brainwashing campaign fulfills its purpose: providing brainless/soulless drones for the left. Quoted from an Ellida Project tweet responding to lawless former AG Holder’s counter-factual attacks on the FBI IG recommendations to fire (he should go to prison) McCabe. “. . . But at least we still have millions of drooling halfwits duped by the MSM who will support us and do our bidding.”

  13. Amici et Amicae,

    I got this from the Facebook page of the Knights of St. Michael the Archangel. I think it has a real bearing on what’s happening in our world. While the essay is couched as a science fiction story wherein malevolent aliens are succeeding in their plot to eradicate humanity, simply replace alien for demonic. While the essay ends on a pessimistic note, we all know the real conclusion – that Jesus Christ eventually wins sooner or later, and this evil will one day be cast into the Lake of Fire.



    2049 AD- An intelligent alien species comes to colonize our planet, having ruined their own. They determine that, since an attempt to instantaneously exterminate man would destroy the planet’s resources, they must wipe us out slowly.

    The aliens establish contact with leaders in governments and industries who will serve as collaborators in exchange for even greater power and a sanctuary on earth for their descendents. Through these collaborators, the aliens enact their plan. They choose to begin with the most technologically advanced societies, since those have the mass-communications necessary to keep large populations under mental control and the police and military forces needed to crack down if the people rise up.

    First comes chemical and surgical sterilization. The women of our species are taught through mass media and education that marriage and family are forms of slavery, that sterility and wage-earning in high-tech work mills represent freedom and empowerment. This is reinforced by the doctrine that man’s birth rate is the cause of war, famine, and ecological destruction. Governments begin to finance chemical and surgical sterilization, along with the mass murder of millions of babies in their mothers’ wombs. The richer nations practice mass sterilization on the people of poorer nations under the guise of vaccine programs.

    The species must also be socially sterilized, converted out of behaviors which promote reproduction. Marriage, the basic social unit that produces offspring, is attacked with the promotion of divorce, premarital yet sterile sexual relationships, and other anti-reproductive behavior such as homosexual conduct and dependence on pornography. And since men are the traditional defenders of their species, they must be taught pacifism and total rejection of masculinity.

    Since traditional religions promote marriage and large families, traditional religions must also be discredited. It is decided that, since the world’s two major religions have a long history of warring against one another, such conflict can be reignited in the region where both religions began. A powerful Western nation will topple the secular dictators who rule North Africa and much of the Middle East. The entire region will fall into the hands of Islamist groups who will wage incessant war on one another, send waves of terrorists into the Western nations, and massacre Christians in their ancestral homelands.

    Because the world’s major powers depend on fuel from this region, this conflict will eventually pull those nations into a world-war as they vie for control of the region by backing opposing factions. To ensure this, the major powers must be kept from using their own fuel under the guise of protecting the environment. The explosion of warfare also results in a tidal wave of refugees– some of whom bring disease, crime, terrorism, and cultural erosion to their host nations. This leads to economic collapse and uprisings, justifying the institution of both a welfare regime and a police-state.

    As the plan is almost ludicrously obvious, the people must be kept in a state of perpetual distraction for them to not notice what is happening. Entertainment technology is reduced to a size that makes it easy for the humans to carry small devices for perpetual distraction. The quality of their entertainment is reduced to prevent any risk of critical thinking. This is coupled with a perpetual encouragement to hedonism, consumerism, lack of impulse-control being promoted as freedom and individuality. The humans are also given a cheap supply of addictive, mind-numbing substances. Those who would otherwise reject perpetual intoxication are prescribed drugs which alter their consciousness. Along with the destruction of the family unit and the erosion of discipline in the schools, this combination of intoxicants and toxic indoctrination results in a wave of human-on-human violence which justifies the incarceration of millions and the rise of an authoritarian regime to protect the survivors.

    Eventually, some human beings do become aware and begin to rebel. But many of these are among the most mentally unstable of the species, as their penchant for non-conformity and paranoia ironically dispose them to recognize the crisis. These individuals often busy themselves fighting each other, and their misguided efforts at resistance serve to further justify a crackdown on human liberties.

    Finally, even the food supply is rendered lethal. They poison us slowly with toxic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers in our crops, which also enter our water supply. They “purify” our water with more deadly chemicals. They dose our meat and milk with hormones and antibiotics. They load our processed food with additives and preservatives. Within a generation, multitudes are dying from cancer and failures of the immune system while the survivors suffer an epidemic of physical and mental disorders. And to ensure our total dependence on the toxic food supply, they use the mechanisms of mass communication to convince people that such dependence is a luxury which frees them from the degrading, food-producing daily labor of their forebears. Over time, the enemy even monopolizes the production of cooked food, which is tainted, by making the average household too busy to prepare its own meals.

    This widespread collapse of people’s immune systems necessitates a cradle-to-grave regimen of immunizations, some of which may contain harmful substances that might damage many children.

    By now the reader will understand that the the “future” is here and the “plan” is well under way. Don’t let it dominate your family, your mind, or your soul.


    The author is pulling your leg or isn’t taking his thioridizine.

  15. The section of food, ironically enough, cribs from the folks who do think we need to wipe out a large chunk of the species.

    It’s worse than false, it uses fear to keep folks from even considering the truth.

  16. A big warning sign: when something assures you that people have a false consciousness to make them not want to work 14 hours a day in the hopes of having enough to feed themselves and sell a bit more, especially when they’re obviously not living that life themselves, it’s hogwash.

  17. Is the concept of right n wrong innate? If a person is not brought up to know right from wrong, good from bad; there was no conscience formation then is that person morally culpable for their wrong/bad acts?

  18. This recalls Miss Anscombe 1958 paper, Modern Moral Philosophy.

    “In present-day philosophy an explanation is required how an unjust man is a bad man, or an unjust action a bad one; to give such an explanation belongs to ethics; but it cannot even be begun until we are equipped with a sound philosophy of psychology. For the proof that an unjust man is a bad man would require a positive account of justice as a “virtue.” This part of the subject-matter of ethics, is however, completely closed to us until we have an account of what type of characteristic a virtue is – a problem, not of ethics, but of conceptual analysis – and how it relates to the actions in which it is instanced: a matter which I think Aristotle did not succeed in really making clear. For this we certainly need an account at least of what a human action is at all, and how its description as “doing such-and-such” is affected by its motive and by the intention or intentions in it; and for this an account of such concepts is required.”

    The situation has not improved in the past 60 years.

  19. Cam asks, “If a person is not brought up to know right from wrong, good from bad; there was no conscience formation then is that person morally culpable for their wrong/bad acts?”

    All wicked men are ignorant of what they ought to do, and what they ought to avoid,” says Aristotle, “and it is this very ignorance which makes them wicked and vicious. Accordingly, a man cannot be said to act involuntarily merely because he is ignorant of what it is proper for him to do in order to fulfil his duty. This ignorance in the choice of good and evil does not make the action involuntary; it only makes it vicious. The same thing may be affirmed of the man who is ignorant generally of the rules of his duty; such ignorance is worthy of blame, not of excuse”

  20. Is the concept of right n wrong innate?

    Depends on the specific examples– the stuff that reason alone is good enough to reach is called “Natural Law.”

    Going off of human cultures? It takes a lot to break that basic “right and wrong.” And usually can only be done in terms of things like a big ritual.

    Even folks who have been raised that there is absolutely nothing wrong with abortion have a habit of realizing that’s a lie if they can’t keep their eyes shut tightly enough.

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