Re: Consideration

1
I suppose the question is whether we should be less forgiving of friends, or more forgiving of people in office.

In the late '90s, I had two friends, married to each other, who hated Bill Clinton with the irrational zeal that was fashionable at the time.

I didn't know this, but the married couple was dealing with the consequences of the male's infidelity. Over a beer, the three of us argued over the question of whether people like Bill Clinton should be held to a higher standard of personal morality.

Of course he should, they said. If he aspires to lead America, he should be an exemplar of morality.

Of course not, I said. One should be much more selective about the personal morality of one's friends than the morality of politicians. Certainly that was true of me, I said. Wasn't it true of them?

It was awhile before I understood why they were so taken aback by this. He's still a right-wing nut, she's now a liberal, and they're divorced.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 6:13 AM
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2

I remember thinking at the time that he had definitely crossed a line when he looked up the addresses of real women and staked out their apartments. I'm not sure what legal consequences go with that line, though. Conspiracy to kidnap, with a potential life sentence, might be too far. One year for illegally accessing the database of addresses doesn't seem far enough, though.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 6:16 AM
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3

At least now I don't feel quite as bad that I have to take a course every year that tells me not to look up people in the databases.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 6:19 AM
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4

If elected, I promise not to eat people.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 6:21 AM
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5

You'd think the cop could have found a PETA ad to masturbate to and left it at that if he weren't a danger to somebody.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 6:22 AM
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6

Anyway, I agree with 2. And 4, if it comes to that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 6:39 AM
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7

||
Not quite a dog that craps pot, but maybe as close as we'll get.
|>


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 6:56 AM
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8

I suppose the question is whether we should be less forgiving of friends, or more forgiving of people in office.

On this, I think there's a serious difference between forgiving someone's morals and forgiving someone's competence. The WMD thing before the Iraq War -- honestly falling for that (as any kind of a meaningful danger) would be inexcusable incompetence in anyone whose job it was to have an informed opinion on the matter. On the other hand, half the people I know fell for it to some extent and I don't hold it against them; it wasn't their job to have an informed opinion about it, they weren't paying enough attention, and there wasn't any particular ill effect from their individual confusion.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 8:05 AM
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9

8.last: I do hold it to some degree against people. Not in any significant way, but generally discount their opinions on political and other matters.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 8:45 AM
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In general it seems churlish to hold people's political views against them because of how overwhelmingly likely people are to be in the same political party as their parents, and because most people's political views have very little real-world consequence no matter how enlightened/disgusting.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 11:23 AM
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11

It seems too weird a counterfactual to picture my friends holding office. If they were the type of person who ran for office, all bets are off about which traits they'd maintain from their current selves.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 11:26 AM
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12

Huh-- I know people whose company I enjoy whose ability to do the right thing is near zero in a choice between easy and right. Lots of people are very pleasant superficially and that's all they can manage, or for others that's all that I know about them.

I do not think that it's easy to identify moral character in other people, at all. Taxpaying vegetarian who works for a good organization is not enough to say much.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 11:35 AM
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13

None of my peers who are currently holding office have done something I'm really unhappy with, as far as I know, but neither have I paid terribly close attention to what they've been doing. One of them did something kind of hilariously craven to get into office, but I support it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 11:40 AM
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14

12.1: You're a lawyer, right?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 11:42 AM
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One of them did something kind of hilariously craven to get into office, but I support it.

You can't tease us like that. You just can't.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 1:29 PM
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16

The dilemma in the OP seems very easily resolved: have fewer friends.

More seriously, the actual way to resolve the dilemma is to point out that you should be able to make a distinction between liking or forgiving someone personally and how they handle the rest of their life. I might forgive a friend of mine for embezzling public funds, but it would make me a lot less likely to lend him money and I wouldn't feel obligated to endorse him on his next campaign. I might forgive a friend of mine for cheating on his wife, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't fix him up on blind dates after the divorce. Forgive (if you can, if you feel like it, if you care about being charitable, etc.), but don't forget.

It's very easy to imagine lots of my friends running for office, but it's very hard to imagine most of them winning.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 1:55 PM
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14. No. The lawyers that I know are pretty ethical, though.

Usually the problems people have aren't wanting to embezzle public funds or whatever, it's some form of ineptitude or spinelessness. Some can't see which choice is right, since it's rare that they come clearly labelled. Some can't defer gratification. Neither situation is really excusable, but I don't think that I know any people who knowingly lie or cheat for easy gains.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 2:08 PM
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18

16: Forgive (if you can, if you feel like it, if you care about being charitable, etc.), but don't forget.

Weirdly, or not, that was my mantra when I was in my 20s -- since I knew a number of people who did questionable things (cheating, lying, being knowingly unkind). The 20s are a tempestuous time, though, and passions run high, and I eventually thought that my "I"ll forgive, but I won't forget" was overly dramatic. It was! Still, there's something in it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 5:59 PM
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19

15: gotta


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 1-14 6:03 PM
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20

Actually, I endorse 16.1. On very rare occasions, I kind of wish I/we had more friends, but mostly I'm happy knowing that more or less everyone I consider a friend is also someone with morals, ethics, and politics I endorse.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 2-14 9:15 AM
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