Tuesday, March 11, 2008

There is Venal Public Disgrace and Then There is Mortal Public Disgrace

As the Catholic Church categorizes sins as venal or mortal, we must decide which public disgrace deserves our time and effort and which ones do not.

NPR's gallery highlights nine separate men who have publicly "disgraced" themselves in front of a nation and the women who "chose" to stand by them. Did these women really choose or were they strongly encouraged? Did all of these men "disgrace" themselves or were some set up to take a fall?

Whatever the case may be, we have to ask ourselves:

Did the disgraceful person's behavior interfere with what we elected them to do?

If “victims" did result from the disgraceful person's actions, did those who were harmed, "consent" or were they innocent bystanders?

Hilary Clinton was the clear "victim" in the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, however she is an adult who consented to be in a relationship with a man whose charisma oozes from every pore, and flirtatious behavior is legend. Hilary is only a victim as far as any of us are victimized when we choose to engage in intimate relationships. In other words, the Clinton "scandal" was none of our business. On the other hand, the people who spent untold amounts of money and time to expose our President of the United States as a womanizer, something all of us already knew on some level, yet elected him anyway, intentionally put our country at risk.

As for Larry Craig, there is no doubt he was set up to take a fall by a police force that had nothing better to do, than to spy on adult men, urinate. Once again, his wife, although sad, is at most a gullible person or overly trusting, but not a victim in the true sense of the word. However, Larry Craig's case presents another problem, hypocrisy. As horrible as hypocrisy is, it's not enough to convict someone, in and of itself...if that were the case, we should all be sentenced to unemployment.

President Nixon's conduct clearly violated his public duties, the oath he took, the public trust and disrupted the function of government, a perfect example of "mortal" public disgrace. However, the answer is not always obvious, as in the case of Edward Kennedy and possibly Eliot Spitzer, as there has not been enough time to get all the facts; nevertheless, we must not group all ignominious behavior as if it is all the same. As sad as it must have been for Hilary and Larry Craig's wife, their husband's lack of self-control, cannot be compared to the conduct of someone, whose lack of ethics or disregard for human life, results the suffering of many, it’s almost impossible to quantify.


Anonymous,  00:04  

First sentence in your last paragraph needs proofreading.

greg,  19:46  

Prostitution should not be illegal for adults. Once a person is elected, any type of personal investigation should be discouraged until after the person is out of office as it only interferes with the function of government.

If the 80K Spitzer spent on hookers came from his own pocket, it's none of our business but if he used public money, then thats a different story.

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