Apparently I've been "brainwashed by the press". That was the protestation of a colleague of mine this morning when I said it was wrong to draw a moral equivalence between Israel and Iran, given the former is a liberal democracy, and the latter is an oppressive theocracy. I also, admittedly in a raised and angry voice, pointed out that Iran is committed to the "annihilation" of Israel and has made it quite clear that the country "cannot continue to exist". What's more the subjugation of women in Iran is reminiscent of something from medieval Europe.
The response, however, was quite telling. Iran's theocracy was not a problem and there is nothing to say that it is any better or worse than us. Also, just because Israel doesn't say it, it doesn't mean they don't want to kill all muslims and annihilate Iran. Sadly, there is little one can say when faced with a conspiracy theory, as they are - by virtue of their inherent fallaciousness - impenetrable.
The discussion though did not end there. There was also, shall we say, a quite heated discussion, whereby the bottom line for my colleague was that all opinions are "equally valid". Sadly, this kind of moral, cultural and intellectual relativism has reached a point now where it seems to be blindly accepted. In acts of flagrant sophistry all arguments, regardless of physical and known reality, become equal.
The result has been a legion of flat-earthers arguing against, for example, action in Afghanistan, on the grounds that the Taliban's cultural differences are valid even if we don't like it. For the flat-earthers, values such as liberty, equality and freedom are not exportable because - and they say this with a straight face too - it is wrong to say that others are wrong.
Such a paradox, which rejects moral absolutism through the use of a morally absolute statement, is not unique though to my colleague. It's an expression of the sophistic state that the West has now found itself in.