Standards, Cultural Relativism, and Broken Windows

Standards, Cultural Relativism, and Broken Windows

Greenman House
Greenman House

This blog builds on the prior blogs Virtue: religion and philosophy, what does the founders’ vision embrace? and Virtue and Pandora’s Box: Effective Policy. Pandora’s Box discussed the damage some Victorian virtue policies wrought, but said the social justice movement’s “cure” may be worse than the disease it sought to heal. I list other relevant blog links below.

The problem is that social justice movements are lowering, if not destroying standards, in their effort to transform society to something that is antithetical to our founding values.

The principal of John Glenn Elementary School, Shane Murnan, is a drag queen who goes by the name “Shantel Mandalay,” Democrat Virginia State House candidate Susanna Gibson engaged in online sex for money, and Pennsylvania senator John Fetterman is cognitively impaired and the senate just relaxed its dress code to allow for his sloppy dress.

Writing of Fetterman, Derek Hunter says:

Now, this zombie has gotten the dress code for the US Senate changed to accommodate his seeming inability to tie a tie or buckle a belt. It’s the perfect example of how the left functions – rather than press for high standards for everyone, they lower the standards to give the appearance of “progress.” Don’t demand better from students and (especially) teachers in cities Democrats rule, eliminate high achieving classes and schools so everyone gets screwed over equally! Ain’t equity grand?

Now a dress code does not seem like a big deal. But it is. It is like the broken windows theory of policing. This theory is controversial among the left academia. But when the NYC police tried it, it seemed to work. Crime dropped. When they stopped using it, crime crept back up.

The broken windows theory says that if you let the little things go, they lead to bigger problems. Same with standards. Once you stop enforcing standards, it becomes increasingly easy to compromise and lower other standards.

And what Murnan and Gibson show us, it is not simply an acceptable dress code that slips. Set aside the drag queen for a moment.

Murnan is an accused child pedophile, although not convicted. I understand the social justice warriors say we must embrace everyone and accept what they want to be. But are we compromising standards and putting child welfare in danger when we allow Murnan into schools? And if we do that, where does it stop?

Gibson’s case tells an interesting story that goes beyond just her online sex for money. Many Democrats rally behind her and she accuses her accusers of sex crimes by making her activities public. If the Democrats support this and lower the bar of acceptable behavior for elected officials, what will they do next?

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “It does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are 20 gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” (Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia)

If a person’s action does me no harm, then I should not be concerned about it or try to stop it. So what harm does Murnan, Gibson, and Fetterman do? Is it something that affects the “general Welfare”?

This is related to the series on the Tragedy of the Commons I wrote about in The Tragedy of the Commons: The Political Commons, The Tragedy of the Commons: Rational Actors, and The Tragedy of the Commons: Wicked Logic, as well as Social Justice and the Free-Rider Problem.

Murnan, Gibson, and Fetterman all impact the social/political commons that affect every citizen of the Republic. Perhaps the biggest impacts on the social/political commons are the dissipation of virtue and our expectation of politicians and bureaucrats.

Here are some examples of harm.

  • As I discussed in Creating the Monster: The American Bureaucracy, we have spent perhaps $22 trillion on Great Society programs and American families are worse off for it. The cited census data in the blog shows the problems and decline in American families.
  • America’s educational system is slipping badly. The international rankings place America’s students barely in the top 30 in the world and we seem to be falling fast. Some educators and politicians think science and math are racists and want to de-emphasize them in education. This will hurt America’s competitiveness in a very challenging and complex world.
  • The social justice movement has created protected groups of people. As we see with Senator Robert Menendez’s bribery investigation, people in these classes often use racial/ethnicity as a defense, saying they are only targeted because of their race/ethnicity. This makes prosecution difficult, if not problematic. It also undermines the rule of law.

Star Trek was pathbreaking not just for the technology, but also for its social commentary. The crew was multi-racial/multi-ethnic and even had an alien. But all crewmember were skilled and not there for their surface diversity. Given what social justice warriors are doing to our education system in the name of surface diversity, our technology base may well fade away. We may have a very diverse society based on surface diversity, but with a fading technology base, will we be able to reach the stars and “go where no man has gone before”?

We need a virtuous, educated, and informed electorate to assess these issues and vote to protect the Republic. We need to assess cultures and determine how they help or impede a free Republic and promote the “general Welfare”.

Virtue and Value blogs


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