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Moral Relativism: It's not just for liberals anymore
June 12, 2004
By Scott C. Smith

Moral relativism is a concept that right-wingers frequently accuse liberals of. Basically it's living life not governed by the rules of morality; making up the rules as you go along. Conservatives seem to think that only they live their lives based on a strict code of morals and ethics. Which is simply not true. Sean Hannity is a great example of hypocrisy on this issue. If you've ever had the misfortune to listen to one of Hannity's rants, chances are at some point he'll bring up Bill Clinton. The man just cannot help himself. He can be talking about how much he enjoyed the new Harry Potter movie and somehow connect Bill Clinton to it.

There are way too many instances of Hannity registering his disgust over Bill Clinton. Here's one example, from Hannity and Colmes, June 10, 2003. The subject of the conversation is Bill Clinton: rapist. Yes, rapist. See, in Sean's world, no one can say anything bad about George W. Bush, but it's okay to indirectly accuse a former president of rape. But that's our Sean for you.

About Clinton and his accusers, Hannity said, "I'm going to move on. But to believe her (rape accuser Juanita Broaddrick) or the known perjurer, you have to believe all of these women (the other women that accused Bill Clinton of rape -- charges that were never found to be true in a court of law) are lying...I find it amazing that people will defend him (Bill Clinton) to any length."

Man, Sean really hates Bill Clinton! And the fact that Bill Clinton lied about a sexual relationship to a grand jury just frosts Hannity's fur.

On another show, Hannity interviewed former Clinton legal counsel Lanny Davis on June 3, 1999. Once again Hannity honed in on the liar, Clinton:

"Lanny, you took a number of gratuitous shots at Ken Starr…you were taking shots at him, felt what he was doing was wrong, felt the questions he'd be asking the president were wrong and I just -- you can't get away from the fact, the president lied under oath. You're an attorney. The president coached his secretary. You know he coached his secretary. We don't have to go through this whole thing again here. The president got impeached for these things. These are crimes. This is the chief law enforcement officer of the country."

As Hannity rightly points out, lying to a grand jury is illegal. It's a crime.

Lying bad! Sex bad! That's Sean's message.

Time for a quick game. Our mystery guest was the center of controversy in the 1980s, a man convicted of the following crimes:

-- Accepting an illegal gratuity;
-- Aiding and abetting in the obstruction of a Congressional investigation;
-- Destruction of evidence related to the Congressional investigation.

Yikes! That's much worse than lying about sex. Yes, it's Sean's good friend, Oliver North. Convicted for his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal. Luckily for North, the charges were later dismissed.

How can it be that Sean Hannity is so outraged over a lie about sex, and not outraged over someone who not only lied to Congress but also destroyed evidence?

Because Hannity is a hypocrite, that's why. That's moral relativism in action.

Is it of little surprise that Hannity is also good friends with Newt Gingrich, a man who, like Bill Clinton, had an affair? It's okay with Gingrich does it, since Newt is a Republican, and Republicans are not subject to Hannity's shifting moral codes.

Another figure associated with conservative morality is William J. Bennett, the man known to "traditional" Americans as the Virtues Czar, author of the Book of Virtues and other tomes on morality and ethics. One problem: as Bennett lectured America on issues of morality, the man was hitting the slots in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. And how did conservatives defend Bennett's gambling? He never spoke out against gambling. That was the excuse. And although the Bible says nothing about gambling, most Christians understand that gambling is a sinful activity, and Bennett has presented himself to Americans as a Christian.

Bennett is lucky he has such a good friend in Sean Hannity. Hannity came to Bennett's defense on the August 12, 2003 Hannity and Colmes:

"You know something? I don't think you did anything wrong…and as much as this, Bill. What you did was in public, you weren't betting the milk money, you could afford it. I mean, you made a lot of money in your life. It's not like, you know, you're mortgaging your house to do stuff."

Well, that's a relief. I will admit that I too have gambled at casinos. There's a reason that Las Vegas is called Sin City, and it has something to do with the fact that there's a lot of immoral activity going on. The perfect setting for the Czar of Virtue to blow his money.

Do as I say, not as I do. It's the conservative mantra.

About the author: Scott C. Smith is a freelance writer from Beaverton, Oregon. In addition to writing a column that appears frequently at liberal web sites such as the Democratic Underground and The Smirking Chimp, Scott writes for his web log, What's In Scott's Head, at

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