The Right to Be Free from Hate: Protecting Voices of Compassion in Times of War and Political Violence

One of the most important challenges posed by the “age of terror” and our war against it is the threat that our defensive efforts will erode the best in our culture in favor of the fear-based dark exigencies of “the national security state.” For adults there are a series of troubling questions. Will the traditional virtues of American democratic pluralism become subjugated to the imperatives of the war on terrorism, and will this lead to a negative change in American political culture as a whole? Will traditional American liberties be sacrificed to the patriotic imperatives of security, and will dissent become synonymous with disloyalty? These are the aspects of everyday life for adults that are most at risk. But what about children and adolescents? How do the workings of the adult political system translate into the patterns of social life and belief for kids?

In our study, Urie and I were interested in discovering if the results for pluralism in the family would find a parallel in the impact of the political system upon kids’ development. We had available at the time data on both the political systems and children’s moral judgments from 15 societies. Our focus was on pluralism, defined as the degree to which a society contains and respects diverse social elements in controlled competition for political support, but within a common commitment to democratic values and tolerance.


Moral Development Political Violence Expert Witness Suicide Bomber Penalty Phase 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

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