Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Any Answers

Is it ever morally right to do such and such is a question for philosophers rather than politicians or historians but it was a question on this week's Any Questions. If you take the stance that it is absolutely right to do such and such then you dig yourself into a hole. Social science questions just don't lend themselves to yes or no answers and even at GCSE level a balanced argument will give better results.

The question on Any Questions was about when is it morally justified to prop up a dictator to preserve the status quo. It was about Egypt but if you give an answer "never" then you haven't really understood the question. There are lots of reasons why you should support dictators and it may be the best practical answer. I prefer democracy and that would be part of my answer but it would never include the word never.

In the same programme there was a question about the big society. One answer included the imposition of CRB checks on anyone who works anywhere near a child. They described it as an indignity of "essentially being accused by the state of being a possible paedophile". I take the point but the state should do something. I would probably agree that CRB checks are excessive but what really irritated me was Peter Hain's interjection "but what about the school caretaker who murdered those two little girls?"

Peter Hain was referring to Ian Huntley and the Soham murders following which the Bichard inquiry's recommendation directly led to CRB checks. None of this would have stopped Ian Huntley as he was not connected by employment to the two ten-year-old girls. It's all very well getting emotional and interrupting other panellists but it would be nice to have something rational to say. Emotion does not sit easily beside rationality.

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