Oh my virtue!

The Triumph of Virtue over Vice by Paolo Veronese
The Triumph of Virtue over Vice by Paolo Veronese


Virtue has a number of definitions, but for the purpose of this blog, I’m going to refer to only a few of them.
1. moral excellence; goodness; righteousness.
2. conformity of one’s life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude.
3. chastity; virginity: to lose one’s virtue.

I wanted to begin with them as I discussed a recent news story and its subsequent end.  Because, here’s the thing: for a change, procrastination really paid off for me!

Back on the 28th, KHOU posted an article about a 15 year old girl who had been abducted and raped after getting off a bus on her way home from school.    When I read the article, I was mad because the community activist quoted stated that, “The virtue of a young girl is the most precious thing she has – it’s the most valuable thing she has…”  And I was outraged.  Seriously.  I assumed that he was referring to the third definition – her virginity or chastity.  And all I could think was, really?  That’s the most important thing?  Not her life? Not her dignity? Not her intelligence?  But if she’s not a virgin anymore, damn her to hell?  Just wow that people still think that way.  We aren’t trading women for cows for marriage around here anymore, so we need to do away with that outdated thinking.  Blah blah, more outrage on my part.

Then on the 29th, the mother of the girl spoke out to KHOU.  She said that her daughter was traumatized by it, and that she kept telling her daughter “it’s not her fault and that we’re going to get through this.”  And I thought, how very true; the girl shouldn’t feel any blame, and perhaps it was the previous comments that made her feel the blame.  After all, she just “lost” the most valuable part of herself.  My sympathies were with the girl, and with her mother, both of them dealing with a traumatic event.

But…then…it happened.  On the 1st, a new story appeared on KHOU.   After activists got involved…after her mom went to the press…after I had gotten outraged on behalf of the girl and her mother…it was all fake.  The girl had lied.  Apparently, “the detectives became suspicious of the girl’s story during the forensic part of their investigation.”  Neighbors are outraged; the original activist is planning on holding a conference to discuss what happened.  And now we get to the other meaning of virtue.

Apparently, the activist was right.  The girl did lose a kind of virtue that is now gone forever – “moral excellence; goodness; righteousness.”  Lying to police…to her family…to the community.  And we still don’t know why.  Regardless, though, it appears that virtue was compromised on that day, and it will never be able to be given back.


Ethics? What are those?

The Cardsharps by Valentin de Boulogne [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Cardsharps by Valentin de Boulogne [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Is buying a book review any different than buying a research paper?

On one hand, yeah, it’s totally different.  It’s a book review!  It’s not being submitted for a grade.  But…those seem to be the only differences.

In both cases, it’s someone lying.  Someone misrepresenting the truth.  Someone attempting to fool a reader.  Someone trying to pull the wool over someone else’s eyes.

Where does this cheating come from?  Because, let’s be honest, it is cheating.  It’s an attempt to fool someone into believing something that is not true and for someone to take credit that isn’t theirs to take, whether it’s taking credit in a class or taking credit for a “good” book.

Book reviewers charge more for better reviews, and people who write papers are happy to do so for whatever grade or standard the paying student wants.

How crazy is it that people think these things are okay?  What has gone wrong with the world?  Or has it not changed, only changed mediums?

Think back to the days of snake oils and confidence men.  We have movies (The Sting) and musicals (The Music Man) that actually teach us that this trickery is a skill and requires charm and confidence.  It’s all positive attributes.  Something to be admired.  Good business sense.

And it is good business sense!  Selling book reviews is lucrative as is writing papers for students.  So does that make it okay?  Again, I say no, and from the outraged generated from the fake books reviews and the article written by one of the (anonymous) paper writers, it’s clear that I’m not alone in my attitude.

So where did our ethics go?  Or did we never have them?