Ethics, morals, and men behaving disgustingly

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.


Anthony Weiner as “Carlos Danger”

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 …


What woman would welcome a leer like this?

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.


Just when you thought Geraldo couldn’t embarrass himself any more …

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.


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.

28 thoughts on “Ethics, morals, and men behaving disgustingly

  1. When it comes to our public representatives, I’ve always said that as long as the good and decent can’t or won’t do it then we’re always going to get what’s left. The problem is that, because the “what’s left” have all the power when it comes to the public arena, the “good and decent” are unwilling to step into what they think of as a public cesspool.

  2. It is something to ponder. Bill Clinton apparently was on a quest to win the prize for the celebrity with the lowest moral standards, yet he probably will go down in history as one of our best presidents.

    1. Maybe he got a pass because he’d been in office a while and had already done some positive things? As much as I despised him at the time, he did seem to redeem himself and as far as we know, stayed on the straight and narrow. Weiner has already blown his chance to do that.

    1. If Weiner and Filner never serve in public office again, and if Rivera is never seen on TV again, I’ll be satisfied that they didn’t get away with it. But I’m not holding my breath.

  3. A good post with which I agree PT, but it begs the question: has the public’s tolerance for bad behavior increased in the modern era? Or was it merely hidden in those halcyon days of yore when Amy Vanderbilt was a recognized household name? If Weiner were to be elected mayor of Gotham, that would be an irrefutable answer, eh?

    1. I grew up with Amy Vanderbilt and Emily Post. As you can imagine, that leaves me aghast at a lot of what is considered “acceptable behavior” these days. Typical old lady, I suppose. If Weiner were elected, it would confirm my darkest fears about the degradation and decline of American values.

  4. Hate to say this, but I’ve changed my way of thinking, too. I didn’t want to know about the horrible things people did in their personal lives, but it really tells you about the kind of people they are.

    And this: “I think she’s a fool for staying with him.” Yes! Why the hell hasn’t Abedin left the Weiner? All she’s doing is saying, “Go ahead. Walk all over me.” How many men would tolerate being cuckholded?

    1. It’s been mentioned that she’s Muslim and thus is obliged to be subservient to her husband. I’d hate to think that’s the case. No woman should be required to stay with a cheating pervert of a husband if she doesn’t want to.

  5. A lot of people are willing to overlook Bill Clinton’s behavior because he did a lot of good things (and even then he is a mixed bag: DOMA? Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?) but there’s a case to be made that his behavior with ML (an employee, technically speaking) led Al Gore to refuse to allow Clinton to advise his staff or campaign for him in an election that Gore narrowly lost. If Clinton had been in good standing and on the campaign trail for Gore, Gore likely would have won. It’s hard to say what might have gone on from there, but I think Clinton’s risky behavior shares some of the blame for the misdeeds, miscalculations and malfeasance of the Bush/Cheney administration.

    1. True, had Gore been elected, we would have been spared the debacle that was Bush/Cheney. But I attribute his loss more to Republican shenanigans in Florida and the Supreme Court than to Clinton’s shenanigans in the White House. We’ve no way of knowing how Clinton’s philandering affected (or didn’t affect) the course of history.

      1. I agree. I can’t help but think, though, that Clinton could have helped Gore achieve a decisive victory that might – might – have kept the Republicans in check. Hindsight is 20-20!

  6. It makes me wonder if somehow this is all become acceptable. What does sending lewd pictures of yourself to someone who isn’t your wife (or even your wife for that matter) really say about you? I think it says you’re a dipshit. And do we want dipshits for leaders? Well, it would appear that we might. Which then raises the question – who is really the dipshit?

    1. That is indeed the question. If a self-professed, repeatedly offending dipshit runs for office and gets elected, I’d have to assume the people who voted for him are dipshits too — and even more irresponsible than the dipshit they elected, since they are willing to impose his dipshittyness on the entire population for a period of years.

  7. I may say that ethics are rules you give to yourself, wether “you” are individual, corporate, profession… morals is more a kind of general rules of a society, that individuals interiorize more or less.
    You may not lie or steal, use violence to get things… As societies may be different so the morals should be different. For some people the bad thing is to be caught, for others the bad thing is to do bad. For some it is bad to be feable, then depends on others, for others it is bad to be too individualist. It depends.

    Dignity is highly associated to morals. In fact it depends on what is your position in regard to others. If you represent somehow other persons, then you should preserve their dignity by preserving yours.
    the old exhibitionist let me totally indifferent. Maybe he has humour, so …
    the sex addiction seem to be usual by politician in USA (even a fresh and naive french politician had been corrupted… I am kidding ). Clinton, Bill, was not only sex addict, he was also a dreamer, a liar. What Clinton, Hillary, accepted conducted her to agree on Irak War II, on strong lies, and to let Bush II be reelected. In fact she accepted her husband to lie, so the american people should have accepted Bush’s men lies.

    As I see them politician could be described by “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. Where the good or the bad are just a question of color wich are mixed in a living mud, or will led us into lethal purity.

    I hope that my english writing did not betray my goodwill.

    1. I agree that different societies have different standards for acceptable behavior. What upsets me is that the standards in this country seem to be falling lower and lower.

      As for Clinton and others (almost always men) being sex addicts, I don’t believe there is such a thing as “sex addiction.” I think there are people who lack self-control and self-respect and/or think they are somehow entitled to do whatever they want.

      1. They are medicals for sex addiction, though. As far as I am concerned, addiction to sex is very linked to power. Freud spoke about the “phallus”, power seen as a masculin sex organ.
        Of course I agree wiht you, the problem is not the way they live or as you better say , behave, but the way it have no consequences where normal citizen would broken in pieces.
        But I do not think that things are worse now than they were “before”, I tend to think it is because we know them. It is more frank, obvious. But maybe this is a worse.

  8. Well said! There’s not much to add after reading the other comments. It’s so sad that in our society today..”shame” seems not to exist…any act that enters a persons head is acceptable…we are indeed in a moral decline and I am not looking forward to what this country will become.

  9. (Been out of pocket and trying to catch up) The perfect post. Please people – I don’t want to know. (and I think you are right about Huma’s ambitions – this is his 2nd time. Have some dignity and leave….oh, standing near power and it’s such a drug…)
    “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” Well said.
    “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. ”
    So true. Excellent post

... and that's my two cents