This came up in a comment exchange from an earlier post, and I thought it was important enough to post on its own:
We all would like to think of ourselves as good people, right? And to be thought of as such. But this is exactly what provides the leverage point for the moral bully -- the ones who, big with a sense of their own swollen rectitude, like to morally push around anyone they think might be vulnerable. This is an old story within religions, with the self-righteous inflating their own egos and sense of power by denouncing the sins of others. But it's a modern story too, especially within the quasi-religious politics of the modern liberal-left, where the sins take the form of failing to re-cycle, for example, or exhibiting one of a number of "phobias" (homo-, Islamo-, etc.) or -- the most popular form of denunciation by far -- of racism. Some of which, of course, may well be genuine forms of bad behavior or consciousness, but that's not the point here. Because the characteristic of the bully is his/her focus -- it's not really on the sins as such at all, but rather on the putative sinner, and the point is not to correct or change anything, but rather simply to morally dominate. This is what makes such tactics so prominent and ugly a part of political debates, after all, and all the more so when one side or the other is losing the debate on substantive grounds.
Now, in order to be a target for such bullying, whether of the older religious sort or the more recent political sort, you have to have bought into the mind set from which it emanates, and this is what makes the pseudo-elite of the fashionably orthodox today, the bien pensant, so easy to herd -- that reflexive anxiety that they might have strayed in their mind from the path of correctness, and so in danger of stepping on some lurking social landmine by expressing one of the many forbidden thoughts. As, for example, did Juan Williams quite publicly recently, and look what happened to him. So in order to build a defense against the moral bullies, the first thing you have to do is reconsider your engagement with the socially fashionable, particularly in politics -- and this is true on both political wings, by the way, depending on your social context. That is, the first step is a declaration of personal independence from the tyranny of political labels and fashions. The problem is that the next steps will require some thinking on your own, as opposed to the ease of simply putting on whatever everyone else is wearing.