Friday, November 18, 2011

It Must Have Been Those Hippies

On November 9, Salon's Steve Kornacki noted that Jerry Sandusky is a registered Republican, Joe Paterno gave a nominating speech for George Herbert Walker Bush in 1988 and made a campaign appearance for George W. Bush in 2004, and Paterno's son Scott was a (unsuccessful) a Republican nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives in central Pennsylvania in 2004.

Kornacki pointed out that Rush Limbaugh stated that the Times Square bomber was a registered Democrat. Still, Kornacki acknowledged "there’s no link between partisan identification and the propensity to commit child sex abuse" and noted the criticism from a National Review blogger that the attempt to draw a connection is “puerile and an insult to children” and “cheaply partisan." While expressing some regret at his post, Kornacki explained "My only intent was to demonstrate how easy it is to manufacture some sort of completely fake, inflammatory, partisan connection to a horrible story that has nothing to do with politics — something we’ve all seen happen plenty of times before."

And it has happened again- not specifically partisan, but ideological with, arguably, partisan overtones. During the Meet The Press (transcript, here) roundtable last Sunday, The New York Times' David Brooks contended

I don't think it was just a Penn State problem. You know, you spend 30 or 40 years muddying the moral waters here. We have lost our clear sense of what evil is, what sin is; and so, when people see things like that, they don't have categories to put it into. They vaguely know it's wrong, but they've been raised in a morality that says, "If it feels all right for you, it's probably OK." And so that waters everything down. The second thing is a lot of the judgment is based on the supposition that if we were there, we would have intervened.

No, no. We don't know how David Brooks was raised but for the vast majority of us, there is no ambiguity. Molesting a child is not "probably OK." In fact, it does not "feel all right." People may disagree as to whether cheating on income tax or misleading an employer is a sin or evil; there is no one arguing that what coach Jerry Sandusky is alleged to have done with children, met by passivity by college football legend Joe Paterno, is unmitigated evil.

It does have something to do with power, privilege, and college athletics. But it has nothing to do with moral relativism or the 60s or permissiveness. But if Steve Kornacki can concede that his post is "one that if I had to do over, I probably wouldn’t put up, given the misunderstandings it has caused," David Brooks ought to acknowledge that a perch at the most prestigious news organ in the world is not a license for nonsensical, if veiled, accusations.

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