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Kathie Lee Gifford isn’t one of the sages I traditionally look to for political commentary but this past week she said something on the “Today” show that makes a lot of sense. In critiquing Anthony Weiner’s admission that his “sexting” activities were “inappropriate,” Gifford said this: “I’m tired of calling these acts inappropriate… Some things are just wrong and we need to start calling them that."
Gifford is absolutely right. Some things are inappropriate such as missteps and mistakes, and some actions are simply wrong because they are, well, unethical and immoral.
- It may be “inappropriate” to make a careless mathematical error on my tax returns, but it’s wrong to intentionally manipulate that math, to my benefit, on those same returns.
- Likewise, it’s “inappropriate” to impose my private cellphone conversations on innocent bystanders, but it’s clearly wrong to send lewd photos to those same people using that same phone.
- Finally, we likely all understand that it’s “inappropriate” to say something unthoughtful that inadvertently leads to a misunderstanding of our behavior, but it’s wrong to intentionally lie and thereby deny facts that we know to be true.
In 1993 the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned that our nation was in danger of “defining deviancy down” and becoming desensitized to “alarming levels” of aberrant behavior that he viewed as a growing cancer on the body politic. Like the proverbial frog in the kettle that doesn’t recognize he’s being cooked, so our culture, argued Moynihan, was becoming oblivious to the boiling waters of its own immorality and equivocation.
Isn’t it sadly ironic that Anthony Weiner, the congressman from the late Senator’s own state of New York, now serves as the poster-child for a nation of malignantly desensitized frogs?