Joe’s ridiculous dissing of Rocky and Bullwinkle last week reminded me of one of those startling experiences of moral disjunction one has from time to time. Ten or so years ago, I was squatting down in a local video store looking on a low shelf for Rocky and Bullwinkle videos to show my children (being a more caring and discerning father than Joe apparently is).
The owner and an employee were at the counter checking in videos and talking away, clearly having forgotten I was there. They came to some videos returned by a single patron, at least one of which was an classic art film and at least one other some kind of pornography.
One of them commented on the combination, apparently a rare one, and then they both began sneering at the patron for watching the dirty movie. He was pathetic, imagine what kind of man he must be, I wonder if his wife knows, must think he’s special because he watches the art movies too. I dimly remember one of them commenting on what this kind of thing did to society.
Exactly right, I was thinking, till suddenly I realized, “Wait a minute, you guys buy this stuff and rent it to people like him. You’re pimps, for crying out loud! Who are you to put down your customers for immorality you encourage and happily make money from?” It was weird, the way they separated their production from their customer’s consumption, as if they bore no moral responsibility for it.
It’s the sort of disjunction, however, you see surprisingly often in discussions of economics among Christians, including some discussions here, when someone tries to impose moral criteria on the supposed needs of the market, particularly by arguing that people should not supply certain products. Suddenly pragmatism rules, no matter what fruits it produces. It is weird.