Madness and the Outrageous


By Jason Michael


Whether it is abortion, genocide, or homelessness the last thing we can bring to the discussion is morality. That would be unhelpful. It would be to commit the greatest modern sin. It would be rude. It would be both outrageous and madness.

Moralising has undoubtedly become one of the most serious and damning of the modern world’s growing list of deadly and unforgiveable sins. It has become an offence of such magnitude that it now invariably results in the offender being muted, unfollowed, or blocked on our much lauded accepting and inclusive social media, and this – what may appear at first glance to be a trifling and petty “First World problem” – has real-world consequences. The moraliser is frequently met with comments that describe his or her statements as either “unhelpful” or worse, something-o-phobic or unaccepting and narrow-minded. As you might imagine, I am speaking from personal experience.

As an inveterate moralist I often experience the chill of the social media silence suggestive of others’ use of the unfollow facility. Don’t worry. This doesn’t entirely depress me. I’ll be alright. Being a moralist by no means infers that I am without about as many moral failings and shortcomings as any other average reprobate. A sense of morality – of right and wrong – is not a form of hypocrisy. It is an awareness of moral rectitude regardless of our own failure or inability to live up to our moral standards. “I always knew what the right path was,” as Al Pacino says in Scent of a Woman, “without exception I knew. But I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard.”

Being moral is difficult, and this difficulty may explain why – behind the protection of a computer screen – the trend, as a herd mentality, is to ignore it, attack it, and vilify those who mention its name. Even in the academy, when speaking of mass murder, ethnic cleansing, and genocide, the pedagogue can insist we “park our ontology” with regard to any appeal to morality. Again, this comes from personal experience. Morality in our culture is dead. It has been suffocated out of existence as a malady of the mind, a weakness of the intellect, a modern madness; because we have been trained to self-censor and conform to the demands of a herd that has become accustomed to comfort. It is uncomfortable with the right path because it is too damn hard.


The real consequence is that when confronted with the moral outrage, in violation of our instincts, we bypass our discomfort and accept what is wrong as a subjective, explicable non-event. We do not register the deeply sinful precisely for the reason that we are incapable of registering it. The outrageous has become normal and thus invisible to us, even when it makes victims of innocent people. Sure, we can be moved at the sight of a young woman and her baby queueing for food outside in the night at a soup kitchen for the homeless. We can even make a donation and be rewarded with that warm fuzzy feeling “making a difference” brings. But it is infinitely more difficult to be angry at the sinfulness of a society so disordered that such sights even possible.

On the way home last night I watched as a volunteer handed a toddler in a stroller a sandwich while the young mum picked through second hand clothes. We can assume there were no baby clothes in the pile. Why would there be when we can’t see that babies are sleeping on the streets? That’s an uncomfortable thought, and it would just be too fucking moralistic to point this out. Careful to hide the identities of the woman and her child, I took a photograph. This wasn’t to be a voyeur, but conscious of their invisibility I wanted to witness them – witness the invisible badness that has a mother and her baby living on the street. I made a point of tweeting the picture. It received not a single comment, “like,” or retweet. It too had become invisible. And that is madness. This is the outrage.


A Rant Against Morality | Actualized.org


Author: Jason Michael (@Jeggit)

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