Monday, June 1, 2015

Masters of Morality

So former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has been indicted on charges that he tried to conceal cash withdrawals to keep "prior misconduct" secret. The "prior misconduct" is alleged to be a sexual encounter Hastert had with a boy.  

As Orin Kerr of the Washington Post* so succinctly summarized, "in the late 1990's, the President was impeached for lying about a sexual affair by a House of Representatives led by"...

  • a man who was lying about a sexual affair. Forced to step down, he was to be replaced by...
  • a man who was lying about a sexual affair. Unable to accept the House leadership, he was replaced by...
  • a man who was lying about a sexual affair. With a boy. And paying money to hush it up.  

*Which I found thanks to Mark Evanier's blog

What is particularly galling about this whole mess is that its yet another example of a distressing pattern. As the Republican Party has more firmly aligned itself with evangelical Christians, the GOP has set itself up as some kind of moral arbiter; Republican politicians run on platforms built more on supposed moral issues than actual policy positions. Yet the GOP is just as susceptible to moral failings as anyone else, maybe more so. 

But its some of these same politicians who establish their bonafides to lead this nation on such criteria as what church they go to*, whether or not they believe in evolution** and if gays should have the same rights as all citizens***.

*Christian, duh! And the more Protestant, the better.
**We all know God put the dinosaur bones there to test our faith.
***Corporations are people; gays are not. 

So there is a particularly high level of hypocrisy that surrounds such persons when they are brought low by scandal. When you base your qualification to run the government on your moral superiority and your morality is somewhat less than superior, you're just asking for trouble.

And its not just political leaders but other persons of notoriety who have set themselves up as moral leaders. Take the scandal surround the Duggar family of the TLC show, 19 Kids and Counting. Even as son Josh was engaged in sexual contact with underage girls, at least some of whom were his sisters, patriarch Jim Bob Duggar was speaking out against rape and incest and demanding such perpetrators 
should be held strictly accountable to the law. Meanwhile, Jim Bob and his wife Michelle took Josh's "punishment" into their own hands, "sentencing" him to work for a friend's remodeling business.  

The deal here is that you can't espouse one thing and do another and still be considered a model of a moral person. You can't hold yourself up as a paragon of virtue while behaving in a decidedly not virtuous manner. 

None of us are masters of morality. I think all the best of us can do is try to not be a total screw up most of the time. Because, sooner or later, we all screw up. In our hearts we know and accept that. But if you're going to set yourself up as better than the rest of us, you damn well better act it. Because if you're not cutting the rest of us any slack with your so called moral superiority, we won't cut you any slack either. 


The Christian religion is taking a beating from all the high and mighty moral leaders who can't walk what they talk. As an example of this, trending on Twitter all day Sunday was #InsteadOfGoingToChurchIm. Let's see what some people have to say about that. 

starting my own religion dedicated to rationalism.

Living a life free of control, guilt, shame, abuse, dominance, and looking down on others.

not hanging out with pedophiles

asking and how being atheist is going to drive me to make the wrong moral choices.

teaching my children to love and respect everyone

In the essence of full disclosure, the El family did not venture forth from the Fortress of Ineptitude to go to church Sunday morning. We overslept. 

Well, I didn't...technically. I got up at 6:30 AM, wide awake. By 7:30 AM, I decided to lie back down for just a little while. After which I woke up at 11:15 AM. So when it comes to resting on the Sabbath and keeping it holy, well, at least I got one of those right. 

Everyone, be good to one another. I'll be back here with another post tomorrow. 


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Counting Down To Infinity