I blogger that I respect – Miriam of Brute Reason recently blogged about our government’s latest sex scandal: Rep. Wiener’s twitter escapades. Miriam noted that American culture as ridiculously “puritanical” and despite the fact that I think I probably agree with her in many ways, I found myself toying around with why sex scandals enter into our ethical debates… And I guess I thought my readers might want to weigh in -
In response to Miriam’s post I wrote:
I have often found myself defending President Bill Clinton’s ability to govern – despite his affinity for cigars. That said – I am not 100% sure that the most sound argument behind what were calling “puritanical” is that these men are role models and therefore they should be chaste. Is there absolutely no correlation between the choices they make in their private lives with regard to honesty and morality – to clarify when I say morality I’m not speaking of sex acts because a person’s sex life is their business? Rather, I find my mind drifting to Wiener’s recent marriage to Huma Abedin.
It may be a completely outdated and residually patriarchal concept, but marriage is a commitment to chastity – I think. Although, theoretically I guess that to depends on the constructs of the personal agreements between the two parties. I guess I am asking why get married? I could speculate – Huma Abedin links Wiener to some very important people – and perhaps this is a marriage of that nature.
I guess what I am getting to is the idea that we – Americans – are generally too “puritanical” when it comes to our ideas about sex and partners and what is normal sexual behavior – and yes we absolutely hold our politicians and other ‘role models’ to standards of moral behavior that are absurd and quite frankly not normal – if there were such an idea as normal, which there really isn’t – but still isn’t there a link between being a good decent person in your private and public lives – even if that link is tenuous. What I am saying is anyone can get drunk and misbehave every now and then but at some point if your drinking becomes a constant pattern your a really more a drunk than a functioning person – even if your just a weekend alcoholic. Can you really always separate and compartmentalize people’s deeds and behaviors?
That said I am so tired of this bull – it seems all the government does is drown in sexual scandal on both sides, which leaves me questioning Weiner’s intelligence. As a politician you have to know your whole life is being scrutinized – how can you be so stupid as to tweet images of you wienis? Doesn’t he watch television – the internet leaves tracks – duh!
“Hm…I agree that you can’t ALWAYS compartmentalize, but I guess what this brings us to is the issue of why we seem to have higher standards for politicians to begin with. Would a successful research scientist be asked to step down from his position if he’s caught having an affair? Would a professor at a university? Would a journalist? These are all professions that require a commitment to ethics, and yet we don’t conflate adultery with an inability to do these jobs properly.