I’ve often pondered the “grey areas”. The extremes, as well as the middle pieces of actions intrigue me. Any action can probably be termed, “right” or “wrong”, but confusion arises when you move along the scale to places where “only slightly wrong” and “not really right” are almost the same thing. Let me give you some examples from breaking news stories.
A court-sanctioned farm eviction recently took place in the Winelands district in South Africa. A Sheriff of the Court, with court order in hand, evicted a family from a house on a farm that they were illegally occupying. All of their furniture and possessions were unceremoniously dumped in a ditch, on one of the coldest nights of the year. Unable to take any action against the Sheriff for this heinous act, the Municipality charged him with littering on Municipal property (the ditch). Littering is “wrong”, but this must surely be regarded as a case of “extreme littering”.
Throwing a cigarette butt into a gutter is also littering (which is wrong), but does the petty nature of this action make it “not so wrong” or “not quite right”?
Murder is wrong, very wrong. Two young boys aged 7 and 12, from the Klawer district, hacked an eight-year-old friend to death this week with a homemade axe for R5 (US 70c) and some raisins. This is an extreme and barbaric act, which should result in the most extreme sentence available in our courts, but obviously it won’t, because of the age of the perpetrators. Does this make it “less wrong” than a similar murder committed by adults, and if so, why?
A British performance artist has eaten a dog to protest against the royal family’s treatment of animals. Mark McGowan, a vegetarian, ate a plate of meatballs made from a corgi. Yoko Ono also tucked in to protest against fox hunting.
Why is this act so repulsive that it is classified, “very wrong” and yet we daily slaughter and eat millions of other mammals with senses and feelings? If eating a dog is “very wrong”, is eating a cow, “only slightly wrong” or is it “very right”, and why?
From the above examples, one can conclude that once the action is classified, the slider on the scale is then moved left or right, depending on circumstances.
Circumstances could be;
Who did it? – murder by a minor is not as bad as murder by an adult
Where did they do it? – eating a dog in Seoul is not as bad as eating a dog in London.
When did they do it? – having unprotected sex in in the 60’s was safer than now.
Why did they do it? – stealing to feed one’s children is not as bad as plain stealing.
Enough for now.