Sunday, November 19, 2006

Why is it?

That the people who scream the loudest about law and order are the same ones who litter the streets, let their dogs run wild through the neighborhood, drive 10 miles over the speed limit, and ask me to commit insurance fraud for them?

There is a thoughtful comment under my MoJo post about the Houston mounted police having run over protesters with their horses. The commenter discusses the collapse of America's social fabric and cites such common moral lapses as insurance fraud, athletes who cheat to win, and students who cheat. He goes on to say that most of us "look the other way" when faced with ethical or legal lapses.

I think that is true. I have written before that parents do not loudly insist that schools and law enforcement protect their children from bullies (including teachers) because their children "asked me not to do it," or because "well, I know I should, but I'm just dropping the matter." And I have written that girls and young women tend to not pursue justice when they are sexually assaulted (this lapse can end in your perpetrator becoming goveror of your state), though, given the attitude of some law enforcement agencies, who can blame them? Boys and men who are physically and verbally abused by sports personnel do not pursue justice because it is "feminine" to do so. Many people have described both child and animal abuse to me, and when I have asked, "Did you call the authorities?" they said "I should have, but I didn't," or "I didn't know I could," or just "No."

Cheating is now the norm among students; surveys done of cheating in both homework and on tests produce shocking results, and the consequences do not seem to be serious enough to change behaviors. The sexual harrassment and assault of women and girls is rampant in this country, as is the harrassment and abuse of gay citizens and people of color. Copyright theft is a common pratice. The dumping of toxic waste in residential areas continues to take place. As I write this, residents of the Gulf Coast are dealing with the continual looting of their residences, and with insurance companies who refuse to honor their contracts.

The recent scandals in Congress regarding Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Mark Foley, and others supposedly indicate that voters want a change. But the "moral lapses" that preceded these--blatantly stealing elections, creating multiple lies in order to invade a country, re-writing official scientific reports, fabricating outrageous stories about political opponents--these were never really "scandals" at all. Voters did not come forward and demand restitution. As I see it, the reaction to the Abramoff and Foley scandals is just a brief looking up in the middle of a very long national nap.


There is a fair amount of bullying and bad behavior in the blogosphere too. I've been making more of an effort to stand up to the bullies, though it doesn't seem to accomplish much.

By Blogger Ann Bartow, at 7:11 PM  

I judged an Odyssey of the Mind competition in Madison and took away points when one team obviously had parental (coach) support. (The rules state that students are supposed to do all the work themselves.) The parents were furious. They were also university professors, and I wondered how they'd feel if they caught their students turning in work written by their parents.

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