An example of the reality creation process in action would go like this. In a first meeting everyone agrees that the company needs to create an exciting new marketing campaign, one that will bring renewed life to the same old stuff, driving numbers and helping the company achieve its goals. So all get down to work, pencil out costs and finances, and by the end of the meeting everyone agrees some important work has been done. The session ends with the understanding that the matter will be taken up again at the next confab. So the next meeting comes around, and everyone looks at the numbers discussed the last time. But at this meeting the necessity of fiscal economy comes into play. The erasers come out, and last meeting's bold marketing plan is eventually whittled away into nothing. Soon everyone is congratulating each other on all the money they've saved the company.
We have interns at work, college kids mostly, and we mighty executives are required to talk to them once in a while. You know, so that we might share our immense wisdom with them and they in turn get something out of working for us for free. So I sat down and talked with the kid currently assigned to me. I told him the story I just related above, and expected him to marvel at such insight. But he just stared at me for a second. "Oh," he said, "you're talking about moral relativism." Umm, sure kid. Of course I was.
There is a ton of information on moral relativism available on-line, and the best and most easily grasped definitions that I've found are on a site called, get this, Moral Relativism. They explain it this way:
"Moral relativism is the view that ethical standards, morality, and positions of right and wrong are culturally based and therefore subject to a person's individual choice. We can all decide what is right for ourselves. You decide what's right for you, and I'll decide what is right for me. Moral relativism says, 'It's true for me, if I believe it.'"
The article then goes on to put the concept into an historical setting.
"Moral relativism has steadily been accepted as the primary moral philosophy of modern society, a culture that was previously governed by a 'Judeo-Christian' view of morality. While these 'Judeo-Christian' standards continue to be the foundation for civil law, most people hold to the concept that right or wrong are not absolutes, but can be determined by each individual. Morals and ethics can be altered from one situation, person, or circumstance to the next. Essentially, moral relativism says that anything goes, because life is ultimately without meaning."
And nowhere is this concept of moral relativism more perfectly realized than in what we're seeing from the Stop the Sierra Madre Smoking Ban movement. It's not that these people are deliberately attempting to be deceitful or dishonest (well, at least the kids aren't), but more that they really do believe in what they are saying. And they believe it because it is something that fits what they feel is important to them, which in their minds makes all the mountains of evidence to the contrary irrelevant. If decades of scientifically proven data does not fit in with what they have chosen to believe, then it must not be true.
I've pulled together 3 examples that I think will highlight what I'm talking about here. The first comes from the Facebook site that serves as a kind of electronic home base for this effort.
"What the council doesn't want to admit is that no reputable studies exist that demonstrate health risks associated to second-hand smoke. The prevailing study, published by the EPA over 15 years ago was lambasted by a Federal court, which concluded that the EPA 'cherry-picked' its data to reach a predetermined conclusion."
Of course, this is pure rubbish. There are literally hundreds of studies that conclusively prove that cigarette smoke is a known carcinogen, and that whether you come into contact with it by directly inhaling it from a cigarette, or get it second hand, the result is the same. It can and will kill you. And to blithely state that the reason so many believe this is because a 15 year old Environmental Protection Agency report cooked it all up is, well, certainly a leap of faith. But what does it matter if that is what you've chosen to believe? After all, is there really any kind of empirical evidence that can possibly challenge what you have chosen to accept as your very own personal version of reality?
The second and third examples I will cite come from comments that were left with our original posting on this topic. The person who blessed us these effluent droppings of wisdom chose to post this anonymously, which is fine. But I think anyone familiar with both the writing style and reasoning processes will easily figure out who the author is.
"More government intrusion into our personal lives is a non-issue for these people. It's the same mentality as the moralist bigots who used outright lies and deceit to push for the passage of Proposition 8 last year."
As someone who emphatically and wholeheartedly voted against Prop 8, and actively encouraged others to do so as well, I find this reasoning to be a little offensive. To equate the historic discrimination against Gay people in this country with the desire of Beavis and Butthead to sit for hours in front of Beantown and Lucky Baldwins stinking up the air with toxic cigarette smoke is a bit much. But in the moral relativistic view even people such as our slacker pals can find support for the belief that they are victims, and that their cause is actually a struggle for liberation against an unfair government. They're not just some inconvenienced dudes hanging out on a sunny afternoon, they're an oppressed minority.
This last cite is a true howler.
"First cite some real, statistically significant studies that conclusively demonstrate serious health risks from exposure to ETS that are not backed up by organizations with an agenda. ACS (American Cancer Society) and the ALA (American Lung Association) have a stated goal to push for a tobacco-free country via legislation."
So let me get this straight. Is the author actually suggesting here that the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association, organizations that actually have conclusively demonstrated the relationship between secondhand smoke and cancer, should not engage in any proactive discussions on their findings because to do so would give them the appearance of having an agenda, therefore making all those findings somehow suspect? And that in order to maintain credibility they should just shut up about it? Yeah, I guess he is. But you see, in his view those findings could lead to the government further regulating the consumption of tobacco, which would be oppression, and isn't that far worse than a lot of unimportant people dying of lung cancer from secondhand smoke?
Ah well, its been fun. I fully expect the STSMSB folks to be fully bummed out when the City Council harshes their collective mellow. And who knows, maybe they'll knock over a garbage can or two on their way back over to Baldwin to express their umbrage. But those who are pulling the strings behind this put up nonsense? I'm sure they'll be back very soon with something just as fun-filled and zany.
We'll be waiting for them.