Friday, June 3, 2011

Morality, Wisdom, and Getting a Grip

I hope to influence the 2012 presidential election.

I am not a particularly 'political' person.

This is not a 'political' blog, and this is not a 'political' post.

And no: I do not have Dissociative Identity Disorder/multiple personality disorder. I do have a psychiatric disorder or two - and that's another topic. (November 30, 2010)

I've gone over being Catholic, in a culture that doesn't have a convenient mental picture of what that means, before.1

No complaints, by the way. Just the same, I'm a little concerned when I see folks trying to pigeonhole the Church as "conservative," "liberal," "spiritual," or any of the other handy labels we've got. And that isn't quite another topic.

I'll get back to a college student in Seattle, a member of Congress, a closeup photo of some dude's bulging underwear, and common sense: after defining a few terms.

Morality isn't Just About "Morality"

Where I grew up, on the Minnesota-North Dakota border, quite a few folks used "morality" when they were talking about sex. "Morality," the way it was used, seemed to be limited to the sort of zipper issues the governor of California had, and yes: I know about the pedophile priests.

The folks for whom "morality" was how a person handled his or her sexuality were right - but may have missed the big picture. Whether or not you cheat on your wife, or have sex with your dog, is part of "morality," but there's more to it than that. I sometimes use the word "ethics," where I mean "morality," when I'm talking about moral behavior.

"Wisdom?" What's That?

Since I'm a practicing Catholic, the word "wisdom" has a definition you might not find in a dictionary:
"WISDOM: A spiritual gift which enables one to know the purpose and plan of God; one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (1831). Wisdom is also the name of one of the books of the Old Testament (120)."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, Glossary)
Now, partly because I like to read dictionaries, here's a list of what ethics, morality, and wisdom mean:
  • Ethics
    • The principles of right and wrong that are accepted by an individual or a social group
    • A system of principles governing morality and acceptable conduct
    • Motivation based on ideas of right and wrong
    • The philosophical study of moral values and rules
    (Princeton's WordNet)
  • Morality
    • Concern with the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong; right or good conduct
    • Motivation based on ideas of right and wrong
    (Princeton's WordNet)
  • Wisdom
    • Accumulated knowledge or erudition or enlightenment
    • The trait of utilizing knowledge and experience with common sense and insight
    • Ability to apply knowledge or experience or understanding or common sense and insight
    • The quality of being prudent and sensible
    • Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom
      • An Apocryphal book consisting mainly of a meditation on wisdom
        • Ascribed to Solomon
        • But it was probably written in the first century BC
    (Princeton's WordNet)
By the way, Wisdom is in the Bible I've got sitting next to my wallet and keys. It got edited out of the Bible many Protestants use. And that's yet another topic.

Denial, Congress, and "No Comment, Talk to My Lawyer"

Decades back, during yet one more scandal in Washington D.C., Johnny Carson (Tonight Show) repeated memorable quotes from great Americans, like:
Like I said at the start of this post, this isn't a political blog. Not in the sense that I claim that one party or candidate is always right, and anybody who doesn't agree is stupid. Another point: I don't think that one political party is evil, and than anybody who doesn't agree is deluded.

Representative Anthony Weiner's Underwear

Update (June 6, 2011)

This evening's news isn't a surprise, or shouldn't be:
"Rep. Anthony Weiner admits tweeting lewd photo, and more"
Los Angeles Times (June 6, 2011)

"The Democratic congressman from New York admits sending a sexually suggestive photo to a college student and inappropriate contact with other women online. He says he won't resign...."
Back to my June 3, 2011, post:

The last I saw, New York State's Representative to Congress, Anthony Weiner, says:
  1. He didn't send a photo of some dude's bulging skivvies to a young woman in Seattle
  2. His Twitter account did
  3. His Twitter account has been hacked
    • He doesn't want to talk about it, to
      • Law enforcement
      • Anybody else
  4. He doesn't know if it's him in the skivvies, or some other dude
Weiner is a Democrat, by the way. Ted Klaudt, who raped his foster daughters, is a Republican. I like to think that neither statesman is a typical party member.

Moving on.

I do like to think that American lawmakers aren't particularly deficient in terms of ethical standards and common sense.

If Representative Weiner has common sense, though, he arguably hasn't been demonstrating it lately.

New York State; Seattle, Washington: Why Should I Care?

I live in Minnesota, a state that's probably not connected with Representative Weiner's Twitter account issues. I won't be voting for - or against - the man, unless he moves to Minnesota or runs for president.

So, why should I care?

The 'I can neither confirm nor deny' politico doesn't seem to be showing good sense just now - and I think that leaders at any level should have at least average wisdom.

Points #1 and #2 in that list are the sort of thing that could, I think, happen to anybody. It's possible that national-level politicians are more vulnerable to 'pranks' like that.

Even #3 doesn't seem all that bizarre. Hackers exist, and I don't think 'blame the victim' is an appropriate attitude. On the other hand, once an account or network has been compromised - I think there are responses that are sensible, and others that aren't so much. Think Sony. (Apathetic Lemming of the North (May 3, 2011))

Not wanting to talk to law enforcement about the alleged hack attack - that got my attention. There may be a valid political reason for that, but it seems to me that a state Representative in Congress might reasonably want to know who attacked his account, and why.

Assuming, of course, that Representative Weiner doesn't know already: like I said,there may be a valid political reason for his reticence to talk to law enforcement.

Point #4, I think, is where Anthony Weiner's story is hard to explain.

But then, I'm some guy living in a small town in central Minnesota. I'm about as sure as I can be that there isn't a photo of my groin, apart from some medical scans. If someone made it look like I'd sent a coed a crotch shot of my skivvies, I wouldn't have much trouble saying, "no, that's not me."

Representative Weiner lives in another state, and belongs to another part of American society. For all I know, taking photos of a man's underwear, with him in it, is so common among the movers and shakers of New York state that a man might reasonably lose track of any one particular picture.

I doubt that this is the case, but I think it's (barely) possible.

Assuming that Weiner doesn't have a surfeit of groin shots floating around, the Representative from New York could have acknowledged the hack, asked law enforcement to find out whodunit, and said 'those aren't my shorts.'

Maybe he was hoping that everybody in news media would be too polite to keep asking him about the picture.

I think it's arguable that he's not showing the sort of common sense voters should expect.

Weiner's Underwear: What's the Harm?

This Twitter flap seems like a 'victimless crime,' except the woman in Seattle made the mistake of reporting what she'd received. There's a possibility that her college career will be affected. Adversely.2 The woman's experiences may explain why we don't hear about more members of Congress who can't tell whether a shot of some dude clutching his stuff is his or not.

Or maybe many members of Congress don't have photos taken in their underwear.

I think the matter of "package-hugging"2 photos is dubious by itself: but I'm focusing on common sense here.

2012 Presidential Election Ahead

I started this post with "I hope to influence the 2012 presidential election." I expect to be back, with my take on issues that affect my faith and how I decide how to vote.

For now though, two points that I think are obvious. Or should be.

Nice Hair isn't Important: Wisdom is

I'll grant that this is an opinion: but I think that whether or not a candidate photographs well - in or out of skivvies - isn't anywhere near as important as whether or not the candidate possesses a modicum of wisdom.

So is Morality

Another opinion: I think a politico should act in an ethical, moral way.

That's not quite the sort of "middle class morality" and "puritanism" that 'serious thinkers' have railed against for most of my life. Although I do think that a person who cheats on his or her spouse might not be entirely reliable in other ways, too.

And that's yet again another topic.

Related posts:
News and views:

1 Being Catholic and Joshua 24:15:
2Excerpt from news and views:
""Weinergate" has put a Seattle college cutie through the wringer -- jeopardizing her academic dreams, embarrassing her family and shattering her privacy.

" 'I'm just collateral damage,' Gennette Cordova, 21, lamented in explaining how her world was turned upside-down when she wound up on the receiving end of a lewd, underwear-clad crotch shot sent from Rep. Anthony Weiner's Twitter account.

" 'I just want this to be over,' she told The Post yesterday during an exclusive photo shoot and interview near her Bellingham, Wash., college campus.

"Cordova thinks the package-hugging picture -- which Weiner 'can't say with certitude' isn't his -- was meant for somebody else and landed in her Twitter account by mistake...."
(New York Post)
If you've heard that Weiner is a Republican, you may have run into a copy of a Daily Mail article:
"...Gennette Cordova's world turned upside-down when was sent the lewd, underwear-clad crotch shot from the Republican's Twitter account last month...."
(Daily Mail Reporter, MailOnline (June 3, 2011))
In fairness, the New York Post article leads with the words "Rep. Anthony Weiner," which could be confusing. Anthony Weiner seems to think he's a Democrat, and he should know:
"...Weiner's campaign based on common-sense ideas and grassroots energy led the New York Post to say 'Weiner represents the new persona of the Democratic party.' New York Newsday suggested that Weiner set 'a new political paradigm' and the New York Times called him the 'wonk of the campaign.'..."

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.