Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Consumer Innocence

What an astute man Edmund King is. King, executive director of the RAC, has slammed the Bishop of London because the Bishop said that buying SUVs and the like are "a symptom of sin."
Pointing out that "sin is not just a restricted list of moral mistakes," the Bishop linked the purchase of large cars of symptomatic of people "living a life turned in on itself where [they] ignore the consequences of their actions."

But this is too much for King who wonderfully replied that the purchase of cars is a "practical," and therefore not a "moral decision." Seriously. He also suggested that the Church "should stick to what they know best." Yup - if there's one thing that 2000 years of moral thought has not been about its morality.

What I love the most is the idea that there is some sort of distinction between 'practical' and 'moral' decisions. What in hell does this mean? I thought morality was all about how we act and how we decide to do things. If I make a decision, say, that's all about reaping benefits to the direct detriment of specific others in society, then - according to anyone I know except the bold Mr. King - my decision has some sort of moral impact.

Still, all in a day's work for the RAC. In the US at least, for every extra driver who saves themselves in an accident by virtue of their having bought an SUV, four others die. There is also some preliminary evidence from Europe (where the SUV-consumer demographic might be different) that SUV drivers are more aggressive than those in other cars. In other words, they are more likely to drive, presumably safe in the knowledge that they won't pay the price of their behaviour. Of course, this fact is entirely independent of moral questions.

Is that the smell of bullshit from King's exhaust?

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