Note: Some language in this column may be offensive to some readers.
You want to know what many conservatives and liberals agree on? That there is little or no moral difference between public and private behavior.
This belief of mine has been reinforced by a large number of e-mails reacting to my column on how Democrats are far more at home with using curse words in public than are conservatives.
Religious conservatives who disagreed wrote that God knows and judges all our actions, private and public, while other conservatives noted that a man's character is best demonstrated by his behavior "when no one is looking."
Liberal objectors generally offered two other arguments: right-wing hypocrisy and the triviality of the issue.
The hypocrisy argument: Didn't George W. Bush call a New York Times correspondent an "a--hole"? And didn't he once say "f--- Saddam" to some officials in his White House office? Therefore, aren't I a hypocrite when I point out that Sen. John Kerry used the f-word in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine; that a Howard Dean fundraiser at which he was present was filled with obscenity-laced humor; and that a formal dinner of the Democratic support group moveon.org was also filled with obscenities?
The other liberal argument is that cursing is no big deal. To make their point, a number of liberal correspondents wittily filled their e-mails to me with the f-word. Only a "f---ing moron conservative" (to some of my correspondents a redundant phrase) would be more concerned with cursing than with global warming.
In short, many conservatives think public cursing and private cursing are equally wrong, and many liberals believe that public and private cursing are equally OK.
They are both wrong.
Let me use a personal illustration. I do a daily national radio show. If I used an expletive on the air, would any conservative think it was no worse an infraction, no more serious a sin, than if I used that word alone with a friend?
I consider the answer obvious, but apparently it is not, so further explanation is necessary.
Some actions are wrong whether done in private or public. Murder is obviously wrong whether committed in public or in private. But some actions are wrong only when committed in public. Making love to your spouse in private is wonderful, but on a public bus, the identical act is immoral.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”