So they threw the ancient and valuable Statue into the Sea? I say.
Yes, says the Owner, they did.
Was it ugly? I ask.
In some ways No, says the Owner, but in most ways Yes.
They destroyed a Historic Monument? I say.
The Whole Concept of what is Historic is, Arguably, Entirely Subjective, says the Owner.
Surely History is History? I say. There is nothing Subjective about it, I say.
Not at all, says the Owner. History is a Story told by Many Voices. The History you hear depends on the Voices you listen to.
I agree with that, I say. And may I point out that when the Man leapt to Conclusions regarding the Moral Dog’s Culpability in the Defrosting of the Freezer, he had not listened to the Moral Dog’s Voice regarding the History at all.
It would not have made Any Difference, says the Owner. The Moral Dog indisputably left the Freezer door open. Whether his purpose was Stealing Lollies, as I suggested, or Cooling Squeaky Cat, who thought he had Covid, as he claimed, is immaterial.
So what did Edward Colston indisputably do? I ask.
He was a Slaver, says the Owner. He was involved in the trafficking of more than eighty thousand Human Beings across the Atlantic in hideous conditions, to where they were sold on to subjugation and abuse. Nineteen thousand died en route.
Actual People? I say.
Men, women and children, says the Owner.
Real People? I say.
As real as me and you, says the Owner.
Why? I ask.
To make money, says the Owner. Lots of money, she adds.
You mean he Sold them? I ask. People? I ask. Men, Women and Children? I ask.
Eighty thousand, says the Owner. Their lives, their hopes, their dreams, their futures.
So why was there a Statue of him? I ask.
Because he used his money to Do Good Works, says the Owner.
The money he made from selling the Eighty Thousand and their lives and hopes and dreams and futures? I ask.
The Very Same, says the Owner.
Were his Good Works performed in Compensation and in Abject Apology for for the Bad Works he had done earlier? I ask.
Alas no, says the Owner.
Did those who made the Statue not know how he had made his money? I ask.
The Statue was erected long after his death, says the Owner, and I am sure they knew, but they did not think it mattered enough to outweigh his later Generosity. The primary function of a Statue of a Man is, after all, to tell us we should Admire the Man.
Even a Man who was responsible for eighty thousand enslavements and nineteen thousand deaths? I say. A Man who could only afford to be Generous because he was responsible for such Enslavement? I say.
Indeed, says the Owner.
Why was he not thrown into the Sea earlier? I ask.
Because there is a proper process for these things, says the Owner. One must decide if throwing a statue into the Sea is truly representative of the wishes of the Community, through Democratic and Collective means. We cannot leave it to a Mob today, because much as we may agree with them today, we may not agree with them tomorrow. The Mob does not have Moral Authority.
You mean the Mob that tears down the Statue today might tear down the Schools the next day and the Houses of Parliament the next, I say.
Exactly, says the Owner. Anarchy is a Slippery Slope, says the Owner. One can never be sure of Mobs, says the Owner.
Why had the Community not already removed the statue of Mr Colston by Democratic and Collective Means? I ask.
Sometimes Communities are not good doing Moral Things by Democratic and Collective Means, says the Owner. There are many who think History is Already Written and it is not for us to Change it. They had been arguing about it for some time.
That is Very Frustrating, I say.
It is, says the Owner. The fact that it is Frustrating, says the Owner, is related to why there was a Mob.
Eighty thousand human beings, I say.
I know, says the Owner.
But there is a Proper Process for Such things, I say.
Absolutely, says the Owner.
Even though it had not Worked, I say.
Yes, says the Owner.
And despite your Slippery Slope Argument regarding Mobs in General, I say, a Mob which takes Symbolic, Limited and Morally Appropriate Action to Acknowledge an Unbelievable Moral Wrong may have Done the Right Thing.
I agree, says the Owner. Sometimes a Mob may be both Moral and may truly represent the Moral feelings of the Community. There are times, when we look back at History, when we wish there had been such a Mob and ask why there was not. It is after all said that all that is required for Evil to prevail is that Good men do nothing, says the Owner.
So even though a Mob sits on a Slippery Slope, it may do the Right Thing the Wrong Way because the Right Way has Failed, I say.
One could see it that way, says the Owner.
It seems to me that there are Conflicting Moral Arguments at Play, I say.
Indeed, says the Owner, it replays the Classic Philosophical Arguments about whether it matters most What You Achieve or How You Achieve It.
Is it ever Morally Permissible to do a Wrong Thing for the Right Reason? I ask.
I think, says the Owner, that depends the Thing and the Reason. What would the Moral Dog have done, had he been present at the Toppling of the Statue of Edward Colston?
Was the Right Reason bigger than the Wrong Thing? I ask, or did the Mob stand poised on the Slippery Slope of Anarchy?
Possibly Both, says the Owner.
I would still have helped throw him in, I say.
So would I, says the Owner. So would I.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.