Ethics And Civility 101: Rep. Joe (“You Lie!”) Wilson Has NOT Been Vindicated

Shut up, Joe.

Shut up, Joe.

Sometimes really incompetent and corrupting ethical verdicts run through the media and the culture like a bad flu, sickening our values and weakening our comprehension of what “good” is. These come with equal frequency from the Right and the Left—right now, they are flying in from both directions, which means that the United States is likely to get even sicker that it already is from an ethical perspective, and it is perilously ill already. From the Left, we have choruses proclaiming that the President apologized for lying to the public about how the Affordable Care Act would work, when he did nothing of the sort by any reasonable and honest analysis based on what an apology is. (I’ll discuss that in an upcoming post.)

From the Right, we are now hearing that because it is past denying that the President in fact did lie about Obamacare, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) is owed an apology (as long as he gets as much of an apology as the faux example the President offered on Wednesday, I might not object too much) for the criticism he received after shouting out “You lie!”  as President Obama was giving his 2009 address touting his health care legislation to Congress.  Wilson is not owed any apology, nor has he been “vindicated,” as thousands of commenters on websites and bloggers have been claiming for weeks.

Naturally, a prime force in the “Joe Wilson Has Been Vindicated!” movement is Joe himself, who at least is focusing on the specific part of Obamacare his boorish outburst concerned, its alleged benefits to illegal immigrants. Most of his defenders, like alk show host Sean Hannity, are arguing that “You lie!” has been retroactively validated because the President has been conclusively shown to have lied about Obamacare and a number of other matters.

All of which is proof of ethics brain death. Wilson’s spontaneous utterance was uncivil. It was rude. It was a violation of protocol, tradition, dignity, fairness, respect for the presidency, respect for the government of which Wilson is a trustee, respect for the United States of America.  It damaged the necessary comity that is essential for or government to function (as the past four years since his conduct have persuasively demonstrated.) It lowered the Congress of the United States to the level of Brown University, where students shout down those with whom they disagree. It failed the standards of the Golden Rule, and Kant’s Rule of Universality (imagine if every elected representative felt that it was appropriate to heckle speakers, especially the President), and any utilitarian test: much was lost in his breach of centuries old traditions of decorum, and nothing was gained, except an increased ability of Wilson to raise money from his less-civilized and intelligent supporters. It was, in sum, wrong.

All of this would be still true if we had subsequently learned that everything the President had ever told us was a lie—that he was really born in Kenya, is a practicing Muslim, that his marriage to Michelle is a sham, because she and his “daughters” are paid actresses, and his real wife is an unphotogenic troll who lives in a special compound beneath the White House. He rigged the vote count in all of his elections; he has been secretly negotiating to allow the Iranians to infiltrate the highest reaches of the government, and his “Obama” persona is just a high-tech disguise, as “Barack”  is really an overweight Asian transsexual woman named “Mimsy.”

It wouldn’t matter. Joe Wilson was utterly wrong to shout out “You lie!’ because the act was inherently unethical in any context, and subsequent discoveries, no matter what they are, cannot redeem it. Dishonesty does not retroactively justify civility.

You are not vindicated, Congressman, and nobody owes you an apology. You received a formal reprimand, and got off easy, and you never apologized. You still owe one, to the President you insulted, and the public whose government you disgraced.

____________________________

 

14 thoughts on “Ethics And Civility 101: Rep. Joe (“You Lie!”) Wilson Has NOT Been Vindicated

  1. Was it lacking any civility? Yes.

    Was he right? Yes.

    Is he owed an apology? No.

    I liked it when it happened because it tweeked the president’s nose, but that doesn’t make it right. Joe should have been quiet during the stream of lies, and then afterwards called the president a liar.

  2. “All of this would be still true if we had subsequently learned that everything the President had ever told us was a lie—that he was really born in Kenya, is a practicing Muslim, that his marriage to Michelle is a sham, because she and his “daughters” are paid actresses, and his real wife is an unphotogenic troll who lives in a special compound beneath the White House. He rigged the vote count in all of his elections; he has been secretly negotiating to allow the Iranians to infiltrate the highest reaches of the government, and his “Obama” persona is just a high-tech disguise, as “Barack” is really an overweight Asian transsexual woman named “Mimsy.””

    Sadly, I think I have seen that conspiracy theory. I think you should work it up as a pilot for a sitcom.

    Until this post, I was blissfully unaware that Joe Wilson was still in Congress. This brings up a point I have been wondering about. Don’t the political parties vet their candidates anymore? I mean, shouldn’t they be actively encouraging capable people to run for office under their banner and actively discouraging embarrassments? I know they have primaries, but I also know that they direct their best political consultants and campaign managers to certain, favored, candidates. Why are they supporting the vast number of goof-offs and lunatics we see in office?

    • As tea party members primary establishment GOP candidates, I would say no the GOP has no control over who runs anymore. The goof offs manage to defeat those other guys who would likely be preferable to the GOP establishment. It all does make for good comedy, if it wasn’t real.

        • I am not sure what “this guy” is supposed to be pointing at.

          But recently the risk of an establishment Republican losing his/her seat is more likely to come from being primaried.

          The risk of an establishment Democrat losing his/her seat is more likely to come from being gerrymandered.

          • That was a bad link. Click again.

            The issue was “why do the parties run these Bozos?” not “how are establishment party hacks defeated.?” There’s little especially admirable about being “establishment” in either party. That essentially means complacent and corrupt, in most cases, R OR D.

            • OH That guy. Yeah….
              Asking “why do the parties run these Bozos” is a bit off because the parties do not choose to run these candidates. Anyone can run as a Democrat if they wish to and the same goes for Republicans.

              I didn’t mean to imply anything admirable about establishment candidates. I was just pointing out that those who are in that establishment have no choice about who else runs.

        • But they do have some control. I know a little bit about some recent local and state elections and in each the Democratic party picked a favorite early, gave that candidate resources the others had, and pretty much assured their victory in the primary. What I was wondering is why they pick favorites who are nuts/corrupt beyond belief/incompetent.

          • Well, the threshold reason is that the people who run the parties are also often nuts/corrupt beyond belief/incompetent. Michael Steele? Howard Dean? Terry McAuliffe? Debby Wasserman Schultz? Now degrade the quality of those three to the state and local level, and what to you get?

      • I would point out that Charlie Rangel got a letter of reprimand and nothing else. The problem is NOT limited to the Tea Party or the GOP.

  3. Just got a comment from a per se jerk who wouldn’t follow the rules and left me a fake e-mail address, but his comment is provocative, so I’ll reprint it:

    “He got off easy you say? Even the King of England Agreed in the Magna Carta that even he could not execute a man without cause.”

    Who’s talking about executing anyone?

    “This President has given himself the Authority to Execute anyone, without ever having to explain why.”

    Drones, presumably? Off topic.

    “I’m not sure what Penalty you might consider appropriate for a politician accidentally saying something true, even if impolitely, but I think we can see what direction it is going.”

    Joe said that “accidentally”? You mean, he had no intention to do so, and had an attack of Tourette’s? Ridiculous. It’s not impolite, it’s a violation of civility, process, tradition, respect and decorum in the nation’s Capitol, and he should have been censored.

    “Just If Illegals are not amongst the few dozen that have signed away the rights to their body on the non-functional website, it is only because they can not afford the obscene price and do not desire birth control..”

    Uh-uh.
    Read the Comment policies next time.

  4. Pingback: Has “you lie” been vindicated? | Crowhill Weblog

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