For several days the little voice in my head has been nagging me to post some fresh material. I’ve really had little to add to this week’s conversation. Still, I have to say something. It’s about ethics, morals, and men behaving disgustingly. And no, I won’t resort to the cute “men behaving badly,” as though this week was just more “boys will be boys.” When this sort of garbage goes public, it stops being excusable.
This week the media have been obsessed with a man who’s obsessed with himself. Or at least a part of himself. Former New York congressman Anthony Weiner. There’s not much I can say about him that I didn’t say about him the last time he provoked such attention. He is a reprehensible, lying, sick, delusional, shameless, narcissistic excuse for a man (I think that about covers it) that makes me feel like I just stepped in a steaming pile of shit.
The first time he did all this (sexting and sending lewd photos of himself), I felt sorry for his wife, Huma Abedin. But no pity this time. I think she’s a fool for staying with him. Worse, some have suggested she might doing it because she has her own political ambitions and thinks that somehow staying with “Carlos Danger” (Weiner’s online pseudonym) will help her with that — you know, standing by her man and rising above it the way Hillary Clinton did. (I thought that was a bad move, too.) Sure, it’s possible she’s just trying to keep the family together for the sake of their son, but I question whether Daddy Danger can be a good husband and father. Both insist this is all a private family matter, yet they keep talking to the press about it …
Garnering fewer headlines but still a top contender for Despicable Man of the Year is San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. Ick. Unlike Weiner, he hasn’t limited himself to sexting and delusions of becoming mayor. He’s already mayor and apparently has been behaving like the women in his life are his for the groping. What a boor. In a way he’s worse than Weiner because he’s an actual hands on, up close and very personal kind of guy. Promising to step aside for two weeks to get professional counseling won’t make everything all better. Two weeks is a vacation, not a life-altering treatment and rehab program. The man needs to resign and get long-term help. Or at least take his sexual proclivities out of the public arena.
Then there’s Geraldo Rivera. The man’s been a laughing stock for almost more years than I can remember. But he seems oblivious to that fact and continues to make a fool of himself. His latest stunt was tweeting a “selfie” of himself from his bathroom, with a towel barely hiding his manhood. Was he emboldened by Weiner? Did he hope to garner the same sort of notoriety for himself? Who knows what prompts a 70-year-old man to indulge in tweeting nearly nude selfies to the world. Unlike Weiner and Filner, however, Rivera neither has nor seeks a position of public trust. Thank goodness.
ETHICS AND MORALS
Once upon a time I believed that what people did in their private lives was and should remain private, separate and apart from their public professional lives, and that the first need have no bearing on the second. (I was very naive back then.) But of course one’s private life is relevant in that it demonstrates how one thinks, behaves, and conducts oneself. It demonstrates one’s trustworthiness and sense of responsibility and self-respect — or lack thereof. It shows how a person behaves when he or she thinks the world isn’t watching.
In an ideal world, one’s personal life would remain private and perhaps have no affect on one’s professional life. But such compartmentalization is rare these days, and it’s nonexistent with people like Weiner, Filner, and Rivera, who seem to think they can behave as they wish, anywhere, any time, and it won’t matter in the least because they are men of power, position, and influence. In their own minds, at least.
Ethics and morals are not the same thing, although both relate to “right” and “wrong” conduct. Ethics are the rules imposed by an external source, e.g. one’s profession. Morals are an individual’s own internal self-imposed rules of right and wrong.
As far as I know the behavior of these men did not violate any professional code of ethics, but it demonstrated quite clearly their personal values. And an individual’s personal values don’t suddenly change when they report to work. Those values continue to influence every act, every decision. You can’t be a lying, narcissistic fool in private and an honest, trustworthy person in public. Human psychology just doesn’t work that way.
So don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining. Don’t cheat on and lie to your wife but insist you’ll be an honest mayor. Don’t grope the women at the office but expect respect and support from constituents. And for god’s sake, when you’re 70 years old, don’t post gross selfies on the Internet and expect anything but derision and ridicule.
If you want others to respect you, you must first demonstrate self-respect.