Is it plausible that the general principles of the natural moral law are the same for all not only as to rectitude but also as to knowledge? That would mean people do know much more than they seem to know, much more than they even claim to know. Can it be? Can it be that the hoodlum who seems to lack remorse for blowing away the video rental clerk knows that he did wrong? Can it be that the woman who seems to lack remorse for laying her child in the razor talons of the abortionist knows that she did wrong? Can it be that the abortionist himself, who murders a dozen and then takes his wife to dinner and a show-can it be that even he knows he did wrong?
Yes, it can. The guilt of abortion, for example, is an open secret among practitioners and advocates of the abomination. That is why Naomi Wolf has recently been so roundly criticized by her fellow feminists. Like them, Miss Wolf is pro-abortion. The difference is that she has let the cat out of the bag. For years, she says, feminists have been pretending not to know that the fetus is a baby, but really they do know. For years they have been pretending not to know that abortion is murder, but really they know that too. She forthrightly declares that abortion is real sin that incurs real guilt and requires real atonement, and that she and her comrades have known it all along. The only problem is that Miss Wolf does not carry her reasoning to its conclusion. She wants women to go on aborting, but proposes that they hold candlelight vigils at abortion facilities afterward to show their sorrow.
So they really do know. And if they do, it changes everything. For what I am suggesting is that most of what we call moral ignorance is not ignorance at all, but denial. The problem is not that we don’t know right from wrong but that we rationalize and pretend that we don’t.