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It's Debatable: The new morality

Drugs, student power, non-conformity, problems in education - adults can talk about these subjects all they want, but it's the students who really know the score. This was the premise behind It's Debatable, a CBC Radio program that ran on Friday evenings during the socially turbulent years of 1967 to 1969. Recorded in high school auditoriums, the panel would typically consist of two teenage students (usually a girl and a boy) and an adult expert in the topic at hand. Walter Pitman hosted during the spring of 1967, but the host from September 1967 onward was the witty and provocative Elwy Yost.

"What is the new morality?" asks moderator Elwy Yost. In this 1968 episode of It's Debatable, two high school students and panelist Mary Sue McCarthy, a mother of seven, discuss this question. McCarthy doesn't see the new morality of the swinging 60s as a negative shift - she simply thinks it's about making up your own mind based on what you think is right. "The kids of today can no longer have an external policeman; they have to carry the moral policemen at within, and make their own decision."
• The so-called "new morality" that emerged in the 1960s is similar to "moral relativism" - the idea that morals don't reflect one universal truth of right and wrong; they're simply relative to cultural, historical or personal circumstances. In a BBC online article, Simon Blackburn, a professor of philosophy at Cambridge University, defines moral relativism as, "Different opinions, no one authority, and as many 'truths' as there are people or societies or cultures advancing different ways of doing things."
  • In recent years, numerous groups have attacked the idea of moral relativism, including the Christian right in the U.S. and the Catholic Church in Rome. Pope Benedict XVI has publicly denounced moral relativism as the primary evil facing the modern Catholic Church, blaming it for the breakdown of democracy, social order and the traditional family. 

Medium: Radio
Program: It's Debatable
Broadcast Date: Oct. 11, 1968
Guest(s): Mary Sue McCarthy
Moderator: Elwy Yost
Duration: 29:23

Last updated: May 15, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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