Letter: Weighing in on the de Vos vs. Callarman debate
To The Editor:
It was with interest that I read the May 29 Friday Report entitled The immoral grizzly bear. In it Jon de Vos touches on the age old but compelling theme of morality as it is defined by each generation of society. He insists that what is considered wickedness within society varies from generation to generation despite the fact that we think it should not.
Then on June 2, I read an editorial challenging the above by a Rachel Callarman. Now things get very interesting! Ms. Callarman argues that a transcendent universal law ought to lay at the foundation of each society’s moral code. Though societies throughout history do adopt different norms of right and wrong, she argues that those norms ought always to be judged on the basis of this universal law. Now I mused, we have a debate on something well worth examining.
However, little did poor Rachel realize the steamroller that was soon headed her way. Mr. de Vos, in his June 12 Friday report entitled “Things change” makes the amazing claim that he was accosted by Rachel in her editorial. He bristled that she did not know him at all yet labeled him a moral relativist.
Any ne who thoughtfully read Ms. Callarman’s short editorial would not even remotely conclude she was accosting Mr. de Vos. She did not label him anything but pointed out accurately that in his article he embraced moral relativism. Whether Mr. de Vos is a moral relativist is unknown; however, the content in the The immoral grizzly bear is the quintessential summation of moral relativism.
Mr. de Vos complains that Ms. Callaraman, in her ignorance of him as a person, erroneously labels him. Then, amazingly, Jon proceeds to build a full scale model of an opponent who, in his fertile imagination, points a bony finger down from some pulpit judging him hell bent and possessing the shear arrogance to uphold something as dangerous as a Universal Moral Law, when she “should mind her own business.”
I believe reasoned and respectful debate on matters like this are very important in this day and age, particularly in Grand County, where we tend toward individualistic as opposed to communal interaction. I believe it is vital to make every effort to hear and understand the other person’s argument and address the actual points of that argument. It is a valuable exercise to actually hear out a person and not to make out of them a straw man, which we easily knock down.
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