The Morality of Friendship
Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Matthew Taylor, Laura Perrins, Tim Stanley and Giles Fraser.
It’s the time of the year to dust off the Christmas card list and perhaps delete one or two of the names on it. Who’s been naughty and who’s been nice? Who should never have been on the list in the first place? The Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell has made the honest admission that he can’t be friends with his Tory colleagues, saying he can’t “forgive them for what they’ve done” to the country. And yet Tony Benn was friends with Enoch Powell. Tee-shirts with the slogan ‘NEVER KISSED A TORY’ have been popular this year, but so have those that read ‘EMPATHY IS NOT ENDORSEMENT’. When it comes to friendship, where should we draw the line? Some believe it is morally corrupting to befriend, date or marry anyone with different values, beliefs and lifestyle to their own. For others, friendship trumps morality, and we should do everything in our power to remain friends with others, short of those who have committed an irredeemably evil act. This goes beyond personal relationships. Many have voiced the concern that hatred is infecting public discourse, where ‘opponents’ who are ‘wrong’ become ‘enemies’ who are ‘evil’. Is this the sign of a more morally-empowered society, or are we are losing the ability to debate and disagree? Do we have a moral duty to befriend those who hold views and values we don’t share?
Producer: Dan Tierney