DAVID ROSMAN: There seem to be moral lapses on both sides of the aisle

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 | 4:39 p.m. CST; updated 10:15 a.m. CST, Thursday, November 17, 2011

This column has been in the making for some time now.

From comments sent directly to my email concerning my position and opinions on Islam, cigarette smoking and women's rights — including a thinly veiled threat to my well-being — it appears the distance from disagreement to anger to violent action is getting shorter. 

I am also wondering about the morality of our extreme right-wing and left-wing friends around the country. Not so much here in Columbia yet, but something is afoot.

Allow me to start with this year's presidential debates.

During September's Republican presidential primary debates, moderator Brian Williams asked Texas Gov. Rick Perry about the death penalty and the more than 230 executions in that state under his administration.

The question was fair and looked deeply into the possible administration of a President Perry.

The audience was, as any would guess, partisan-conservative, including more than a smattering of Christian conservatives. These are the same conservatives who support personhood amendments and represent the pro-life and anti-abortion factions of the GOP.

That, by itself, is not wrong. In fact, though I disagree with their political views, the opinions of extreme right-wingers are appropriate for them.

The question of morality emerged during the applause Perry received for executing 234 prisoners.

If you support life at one end of the spectrum, shouldn't you support life at the other?

The natural counterargument is that those who support pro-choice are also pro-abortion. That is not correct, though I will leave that discussion for a later date.

For now, let it be understood that extreme left-wingers are also mostly anti-death penalty.

But why applaud the misfortune of those who lost their lives, whether self-imposed or, as we have seen, in error?

Even Jesus forgave those who committed crimes.

The second incident came during the Nov. 9 GOP debate when moderator Maria Bartiromo asked presidential candidate Herman Cain about the alleged accusations of sexual misconduct leveled at him by four women.

The question was fair and looked deeply into the possible administration of a President Cain.

Again, the audience was partisan, with many supporting the "family values" platform of the Republican Party. Sexual misconduct, the last I checked, is not a "family value," and many are still waiting for Cain to provide an explanation or apology.

But Bartiromo’s question was booed. "Don't pry into our private lives," seemed to be the audience response, though that seems to be a major tactic of the conservative movement against anyone or anything liberal.

The third incident deals with the occupy movement, or the 99 percenters. From talking with many of those participating throughout the United States, I tend to agree with their position on the disparity of wealth.

In fact, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo talked about this same issue … in 1984. The argument is more than about money; it's also a health issue, an education issue, a prosperity issue and more.

The problem is that the occupy movement has been infiltrated by a group called the Black Bloc, whose members think violence is the tool to change government. Not only in Oakland, Calif., but in New York, Portland, Ore., and elsewhere.

Interviews with 99ers indicate that many of them also think that if this is the way to protest — destroying private and public property — it is acceptable.

It is not, and this is where the morality of the left-wingers comes into question.

The extremes on both ends of the continuum have moved so far away from the social norms that they have become dangerous, yet the majority of Americans are not condemning either for their inappropriate and immoral actions.

Allow me to leave you with a question: Have we lost our moral compass when we see violence, slander and deceit as the new norm?

Footnote: I would like to thank the MU Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists and Agnostics Association and the University of Central Missouri Secular Student Alliance for having me speak to their meetings in the past three weeks. I appreciate the opportunities and welcome the questions — even those that seem "hostile" — on church-state issues.

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. His new book is "A Christian Nation? An Examination of Christian Nation Theories and Proofs."

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