Over at the Rockridge Institute, Fred Block writes about "The New Right-Wing Permissiveness" and though I'm not sure it's so new, it's certainly a concept worth highlighting.
The gist of his point:
Despite the Justice Department’s report that violent crime in the United States has been declining, two recent crime waves raise serious questions about our national morality in an era of right-wing dominance. One was the corporate crime spree that led to the collapse of ENRON and WorldCom in 2001 and 2002. The other is the abuse of prisoners at Abu Gharib prison in Iraq that produced those gruesome photographs. Both crime waves raise parallel questions: are these the acts of a few misguided individuals or do they reflect some deeper problems in our culture?That's worth harping on isn't it? I mean the right has been harping on about liberal permissiveness for decades now, right?
Right-wing commentators have insisted that in both cases the problem was caused by a few misguided and troubled individuals. No need for any further scrutiny; the only issue is to punish the bad guys. But this resort to the “bad apple” theory is actually the leading edge of “the new right-wing permissiveness”. Conservatives have long blamed the permissiveness of liberals for many of our society’s most intractable problems–crime, delinquency, and drug use. But the Right now has embraced a more insidious form of permissiveness that is creating an “anything goes” moral culture. The elements of this new permissiveness are the bad apple theory and the idea that reliance on a “higher authority” eliminates the need for moral judgments. Together these undermine a culture of moral responsibility.