Magazine February 25, 2013, Issue

Gradgrinds of Rights

(Oxford)
Why is our moral imagination so limited?

Future historians will marvel (at least I hope that they will) at the rapidity with which our age transmutes a politically contingent change in the law into a self-evidently unalienable human right similar to that of freedom of speech or a fair trial: a change in the law that only shortly before would have seemed bizarre or ridiculous even to its supposed beneficiaries. Never has the passage from patent absurdity to unassailable orthodoxy been shorter.

A sentence from President Obama’s inaugural address captured perfectly our society’s peculiar tendency to sudden moral enthusiasms, a sign not so much of its critical open-mindedness

Theodore DalrympleMr. Dalrymple, a retired doctor, is a contributing editor of City Journal and The New English Review. He is the author of False Positive: A Year of Error, Omission, and Political Correctness in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

Coal Meets Markets

While Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign fades in the rear-view mirror, the issues he ran on — particularly, his charge that President Obama is engaged in an economically disastrous “war ...

Features

Politics & Policy

Amnesty Anew

On consecutive days in January, two immigration proposals were put forward. The first was by Senators Chuck Schumer and Marco Rubio, representing the Gang of Eight — Democrats Schumer (N.Y.), ...
Politics & Policy

States of Conservatism

Inauguration Day 2013 was a moment of jubilation for conservatives. After four years of lackluster economic growth and a series of personal and policy mistakes, the incumbent chief executive, a ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Movie Crazy

Over a lifetime of moviegoing, I’ve seen more heartwarming flicks about the mentally ill than I care to admit, but until now I’m not sure I had ever seen one ...
City Desk

Iron Men

I see my trainer, Shawn, three days a week, and one day he told me something that had happened the last time he had been at the new Barclays Center ...
Politics & Policy

It’s Not about Bigotry

‘What we have come to call the gay-marriage debate is not directly about homosexuality, but about marriage,” declare the authors of this timely polemic. Few advocates of same-sex marriage will ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

Letters

Keeping Up with the Trapps My six-year-old daughter and I both enjoyed your reprint of Aloïse Buckley Heath’s piece on trying to emulate the Trapp family’s Advent activities. I, too, have ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Chinese hackers penetrated the New York Times system. Maybe they wanted to be Tom Friedman for a day. ‐ Who is that, clinging to his shotgun? It looks like President ...
Athwart

The Magic Bullet

Why does President Obama want to put weapons of war into the hands of criminals? What sort of craven, stone-hearted monster can be so beholden to the cackling goblins of ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

SMOOTH AS A WHISPER The North Star, being the one around which the others appear to circulate, is the one by which we actually navigate, and have for millennia. A deep-seated awareness of thunder in the distance will not ...
Happy Warrior

Ghost Cities

In a dispute between Hamas and Fatah, it’s tempting to take the old Kissinger line re the Iran–Iraq War: It’s a shame they can’t both lose. But, in fact, only ...

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