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Everyday Ethics

normal_snapping_fingers.gifWe shouldn’t make snap decisions, right? At least, that’s the message I believe one of our commenters was trying to get across when he (or she) wrote in response to our David Letterman post, “Hero Or Creep“:

Might there not be an ethical question in deciding whether you can judge someone as creepy without knowing the facts as you admittedly do not? –gmo2

It’s a good rule of thumb: don’t judge too hastily. And on this blog, I generally like to pose open-ended questions when the moral and ethical dilemmas we discuss don’t have easy answers, or when all the facts aren’t in. However, in Letterman’s case…

…he copped to sleeping with several young interns on his show right from the get-go. So, I’m judging him based on facts in evidence.

Now, a higher moral standard might be to strive not to judge even then. I haven’t walked a mile in the talk show host’s shoes. Or in Anita Tedaldi’s, or any number of the other cases we’ve discussed. Might I not, if faced with the temptations, struggles, and pitfalls these fellow humans have stumbled over, do similarly–or worse?

Maybe those interns simply were completely irresistible. Maybe that adoption truly was the wrong choice for all concerned. Maybe Polanski really did have to skip town to evade his prison sentence. I don’t know. And I certainly wouldn’t like people pouring over my choices, rummaging through my dirty laundry, and throwing the proverbial stones at me.

So is it unethical to weigh in with opinions on hot topics here on Everyday Ethics? I don’t think so. Yes, I believe we must be careful. Yes, I think the benefit of the doubt is laudable and you better believe I weigh it with each keystroke as I type my entries on this blog. But I also believe judgment is one of our highest faculties as humans, and it is there as the lodestone of our moral compass. It’s what steers us true. It’s why I ask questions like, “hero or creep”, silly as they may sound at first blush. I’m trying to get at analytical thinking, and, for the most part, the responses I have received in our comments board have been heartening, challenging, and exciting, showing me that you-all care as much as I do about these issues. 

I guess I’m trying to argue that some forms of discrimination aren’t wrong–they’re literally necessary. The ability to discern is part of what makes human beings intelligent. And, when new facts come into evidence, we have an amazing option… we can change our minds.

So… agreed… let’s not pillory people unfairly, but do let’s talk about the moral issues brought up by their behavior in the public sphere.

Agree? Disagree? Want to throw stones?

(Ducking and covering…) 

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