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For Shame

July 15, 2010

Back in the day (pick any other era than our own) there was a stronger sense of propriety. This goes for just about anything you’re talking about — dress codes, sexual mores, or even the language people use in public. 

We’re a much freer society now. This freedom can encourage creativity. This freedom can make life easier for those who have trouble conforming. This freedom was and is the antidote to the stifling, nosey and narrow-minded ways that Theodore Dreiser and others wrote about generations ago. 

That’s the affirmative. The negative is as follows: The “anything goes” nature of our society is making us coarser and more vulgar, and also more apathetic. In this regard, we see shit going on around us all the time and we just say: “Whatever.” (Note: The NT2 editor allowed the use of s-word in the name of artistic freedom, but we had to include the pompous Dreiser reference in the previous paragraph to make it fly.) 

Now to the matter at hand. There’s an extraordinary story from the NY Times Washington bureau today about members of Congress who have left floor debates to attend fundraisers sponsored by people who were lobbying for or against the bills that were being debated. After attending the event and picking up campaign contributions, the lawmakers then returned to the floor to cast their ballots. 

Lawyers and experts on ethics say that politicians should forgo fundraising events in the midst of debates to avoid the appearance of an ethical problem. 


This story really galled us at NT2. We all recognize that such conduct isn’t the end of the world. Still, it struck us as absolutely outrageous. 

After expressing our outrage amongst ourselves, we began a broader discussion of what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to fundraising. In this regard, it is clearly wrong to do what these particular lawmakers did – to go from a debate to fundraiser and then back to vote.  But when does it become ok? Is it when the fundraiser is held the day before the vote? A week? A month? Three months? Or is it ok when the fundraiser is held after the vote? When does the appearance problem begin to recede or does it ever? 

We ended up our discussion without clear answers to these questions, only nostalgic references to earlier days when we all believe that “shame” was still alive.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    July 16, 2010 9:39 AM

    Dreiser was a 30s and 40s-era communist. For real, that is. He joined the American Communist Party. He’s one of those guys Fred Dicker rants against on his Friday radio show.

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