Moral Equivalence

Last night, I posted the following statement on Facebook:

People who claim they will not vote because the choices do not suit them are cowards. Their moral high ground is freakish bullshit. They have no compassion; they have an inability to recognize that the world is not the personal playground they wish it to be. There. I’ve said it. And, if I’ve offended anyone by saying it, I’m willing to accept the consequences of unfriending and the like. By the way, I’m voting for Hillary as a means of doing my damnedest to keep Trump out of the White House.

This morning, I awoke to read the following comment in response to that message:

I’m hearing that your tolerance for and your willingness to take part in violence are greater than mine. I’d already been called apathetic, immature, and irresponsible. You’re adding cowardly, freakish, compassionless, and, if I’m not reading between the lines too much, delusional. Here, John. Climb down off of that horse and hit my other cheek.

Here’s why I think the argument that voting for any candidate is a vote in support of violence is, frankly, stupid and delusional (yes, the between the lines reading was correct). By taking no action (i.e., not voting), people who refuse to take part in the ‘violence,’ as they call it, are engaging in precisely the carnage they ostensibly find so offensive. I equate that choice to an EMT’s decision to withhold treatment from a heart attack victim as a means of protest against what he believes is the inferiority of the brand of AED equipment installed in the EMT’s ambulance. The decision to stay home from the polls is not the moral equivalent of Don Quixote’s quest. Rather, it is equivalent to walking away from someone injured in a traffic accident because “she shouldn’t have been driving after dark, anyway” and “I might get sued if I try to help.”

Making a choice between the only choices available is preferable to making no choice at all. Of course, inaction does give one an opportunity to falsely claim absolution of responsibility for the consequences of the actions of others.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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