At first glance, the expression “the dictatorship of relativism” sounds like a paradox, maybe even an oxymoron. After all, aren’t dictatorships a form of absolutism? And don’t relativists find it difficult, if not impossible, to make judgments about differing moral systems? So how can they “dictate” the behavior and thoughts of others if they can’t make judgments about what people should think and do?
Take the case of the adoption-agency controversy in Great Britain. Last spring, Parliament passed a law requiring Catholic adoption agencies to allow gay couples to adopt children who had been placed under the care of these agencies. Now a true relativist would treat Catholics like exotic Amazonians: Sure, they have this odd view of the family, whereby only a married husband and wife are the legitimate and appropriate couple suited for raising a child, natural or adopted. How weird, but who are we to judge?
Secularists, of course, disagree, and see no problem with “Heather having two mommies.” But what does that have to do with Catholics? After all, anthropologists recognize that different societies are marked by different kinship-relations: They freely, and nonjudgmentally, discuss matriarchal societies in prehistory, polygamy in seventh-century Arabia and nineteenth-century Utah, gay “marriage” in Massachusetts and Holland, and so on, all without judgmentalism or moralism. So why not let Catholics live their odd lifestyle too?
But that’s not happening, and the question is why. Hypocrisy surely has something to do with it. I suspect, though, that the root cause comes from the odd admixture of absolutism and relativism in self-professed relativists….