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When 'Personal Morality' Slams Into Societal RealityGerald L. Rowles, Ph.D.
August 3, 2003
When Kobe Bryant made the decision to commit adultery he was undoubtedly caught up in a moment of personal election; a moment of 'personal morality'. Set aside, just for the moment, the unresolved allegation of rape. Many have seized upon and accepted at face value that latter charge. It is thus accepted by them as sensible that Kobe Bryant, the public personna, was so isolated from reality he actually believed he could inflict physically evident harm without incurring dramatic consequences. Well, more and more it looks like this case will hinge on the millisecond between 'yes' and 'no'; which is a trifling diversion from the real issue.
Adulterous sex between two - ah, briefly - consenting adults is not criminally illegal - maybe. But it is a matter of moral judgment. And we know in all probability, from Kobe's admission, that adultery was committed - briefly.
In today's do-your-thing, god-is-dead cultural revisionism, morality as a cultural and societal construct has been eschewed in favor of the personal. We are all our own autonomous judges of what is moral and what is not. Taking it a step beyond timing, was that which Kobe committed personal immorality? Or, can there really be such a thing as personal morality? Had Kobe's personal moral judgment, assuming that was what was operating, not come to public light, who's to say that he committed immorality, eh?
But it did come to light. And the resulting exposure had a dramatic impact. Vanessa Bryant, his wife, was brought the floodlight of embarrassment that only a jilted spouse can know. His fans, who had long believed him to be a beacon of personal integrity, had that belief shattered. His teammates now became suspect by association. And black males were robbed of an erstwhile role model. But how can that be if it was merely a matter of personal morality? Are we not disallowed from judging him under that operating system?
And what of the young woman who elected to go to his room? Well at least with the charge of rape, her personal moral election seems less a topic of condemnation; for now. But if rape was not a matter of consideration, did her personal morality not also impact Mrs. Bryant, the fans, the teammates, the young black males?
But since we do not ask that question of unwed mothers who elect to become pregnant, often imposing a burden of support on all of society, and instead blame their decision on the errant male, so it is with the alleged Bryant 'victim'. All men are potential rapists, after all, taking away the question of personal morality for the female.
But what do the offspring of a woman who has had a prior abortion think when they learn of this personal moral decision by their mother? Are they not impacted? Or what of any woman who chooses to have an abortion? How does that personal moral decision impact her coworkers, extended family, and future potential mates? And what of the single mother who intentionally gives unwed birth. How does that impact the subsequent course of that child's life and all within their social milieu?
What of the personal morality of one Jayson Blair, who not only invented his journalistic reports out of whole cloth, but subsequently bragged of being able to put one over on the editors who provided him multicultural support? How many millions of New York Times readers were impacted by that bit of personal (im)morality? Was it then merely the personal morality of Jason Blair in play, or that of a large part of the culture?
Just recently a story was published about a 7 year-old who is, at his young age, addicted to pornography. It seems that his grandfather, who watched over him, liked to watch x-rated VHS tapes. As a matter of personal morality, it seems, the grandfather supposed that his decision had no bearing on the child. Yet, "When he was about three years old, his mother found him fondling his penis while a porn film was showing on TV." So grandfather was obviously wrong in assuming no harm to the child, and his personal morality became no longer personal.
What are the implications of this 7 year-old's saga for the wholesale exposure of elementary school students to sex education and homosexual diversity training in fisting and other variations on sodomy? Both of these 'progressive' education advances are the product of a shared mindset by a group of individuals who share a common personal morality perspective. There is no research to support the notion that such training is a morally good thing, only shared personal convictions that outweigh centuries of cultural prohibition against promiscuous sexual evangelism. Meanwhile, the children are practicing oral sex in just about every possible venue ... after all it's not really sex. Heck, they learned that excuse from none other than a President of the United States exercising his personal morality.
And what about the local art gallery owner who chose to have painted a mural of a nude Eve on the outside of his building. Exhibiting another bit of personal morality in play, gallery owner Wes Miller said, "I don't feel it's my job to jeopardize my financial stability for the constitutional rights of the citizens of Pilot Point." Nor apparently did he find anything personally immoral about exposing passing children to adult nudity. But for the parents and children, it was no longer a matter of one man's personal morality.
Consider this bit of alarming reality. Young, college attending males are subsidizing their college education by what, working at the 7-11? Nah, that's too time consuming. As co-conspirators in the 'choice' industry, these enterprising lads are spanking out a tad bit of sperm at the local sperm banks, and being handsomely paid for their 'efforts'. As a result of this personal (im)morality, some youngster is going to grow up wondering, "Who's my daddy." A sad story, you say? Well what about this?, asks columnist Mary Laney:
"If students are depositing in sperm banks, - multiple times - at sperm banks located near universities and couples are bearing children through the use of that sperm, what's to stop people in a given area from producing half brothers and sisters who have no idea that they're half brothers and sisters?
And what happens when they grow up and start to date? What if a half brother and his half sister meet and fall in love without knowing their relationship? And what happens if they get married and have children? Are we going to have village idiots running around?"
Wham! How's that for a sudden reality encounter?
Well, back to Kobe. If there ever truly was such a thing as personal morality, he has been body checked by the reality that it only remains operative in the darkness of a motel room and the back alley of societal moral ignorance.
We are all potential Kobe's, on a lesser scale. This grand tacky soap opera should be a reality check that the whole notion of 'personal morality' is a ticking time bomb; even for us lesser gods, and self-absorbed goddesses.
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