Of COURSE There’s An Unwed and Pregnant Catholic School Teacher Principle….Don’t Be Silly.

pregnant nunButte Central teacher Shaela Evenson says she is planning on suing the Montana Catholic middle school that fired her for getting pregnant without the benefit of a husband. Whatever it is she is thinking (and whatever it is her lawyer is encouraging to keep thinking), it’s unethical, and I doubt the law will have much sympathy with it either.

  • She signed a contract promising “to respect the moral and religious teachings of the Catholic Church in both her professional and personal life”—a bit broad for my tastes, but this episode was pretty obviously exactly the kind of thing such a clause was designed to forbid, and nobody forced her to agree to it.
  • As Patrick Haggarty, the superintendent of Catholic schools for the diocese, said,  Evenson “made a willful decision to violate the terms of her contract.” It’s hard to argue that getting pregnant before marriage isn’t a willful decision, if she wasn’t raped.

  • Haggarty also notes, “The Catholic moral teaching is that the sacrament of marriage is a holy union between a man and a woman.” That sounds about right. Continue reading

Bloomberg Is Right About Teen Pregnancy, We Are Right To Condemn It

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No, Candace, we haven’t forgotten Murphy and her amazing vanishing baby.

Conduct that is harmful to society needs to be rejected and condemned by society, and society has limited options for accomplishing that. It can make destructive and harmful conduct illegal, but some kinds of conduct can’t be illegalized. Uncivil speech, for example, is ugly and causes discord, and the only way to make it less common is to let those who engage in it know that neither they nor their communication habits are appreciated. The Supreme Court has decided that we can’t make lying illegal, but we certainly have the power to make habitual liars feel unpopular.

When society sends mixed messages about destructive conduct, or worse, tell those who engage in it that they are still wonderful people and that their conduct might be just fine for them, it poisons itself. There is a solid, practical reason for Kant’s Rule of Universality, which holds that conduct that would be lead to societal catastrophe if everybody engaged in it is wrong should be discouraged. If everybody doing it would be bad, it’s a good bet that the fewer doing it, the better.

No toxic social conduct illustrates the folly of hesitating to condemn it more vividly than unwed pregnancy, particularly teen pregnancy. While shunning and shaming pregnant teens was undoubtedly cruel, sending the message that unwed motherhood is socially acceptable is arguably crueler. This kinder, gentler response, combined with the warping influence of wealthy celebrities proudly parading their “baby bumps” courtesy of equally rich celebrity boyfriends, has led to an explosion of births without wedlock, especially in the black community. The children of these non-marriages are handicapped from birth, more likely to fall into poverty,substance abuse, illiteracy and crime; the mothers involved less are likely to succeed in careers or life; government programs, funded by taxpayers, are too often required to mitigate the damage. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: The Single Mother Tip-Stiffer

According to a poster on Reddit, a woman allegedly left the message above on her receipt after eating a pricey meal at a restaurant. “Single mom, sorry,” she wrote, in the space left for a tip. “Thank you—it was great!” The furious waiter’s colleague scanned and posted  the receipt, with appropriate invective that has been matched and exceeded by others on the site.

As usual, there are denials that the story is genuine, and claims that some single mother-hating trouble-maker created this miserable ethics smoking gun. “I think this bill is a fraud because I’ve met very few single mothers who expected to get special treatment for their status. They’re just hoping no one holds their situation against them,” wrote one skeptic. This is the “No True Scotsman” fallacy in Technicolor. The fact, if it is a fact, that few single mothers expect special treatment doesn’t prove that this one didn’t or doesn’t. Continue reading

Where We Miss Morality: The Unmarried Mothers Disaster

USA Today included an editorial yesterday about the explosion of births to unmarried mothers in America that has exacerbated many societal problems. It’s a stunning story : in 1960,  the figure was 5.3%; by 1970, in the teeth of the cultural upheaval launched in the late 60’s, it had  more than doubled to 10.7%.   In 2009, 41% of children born in the USA were born to unmarried mothers,  including a frightening 73% of non-Hispanic black children.  The editorial suggested that reversing the trend is a priority, but was short on ideas for how to address it. Notably absent was the method of social control that had served the United States well since 1776, and had been effective world-wide since the institution of marriage: calling it wrong. Continue reading

Ethics Verdict on O’Reilly vs. Aniston: O’Reilly’s No Dan Quayle

Jennifer Aniston is promoting her upcoming comedy “The Switch,” about a single woman who becomes a mother through artificial insemination. In one interview. Aniston commented that “Women are realizing more and more that you don’t have to settle, they don’t have to fiddle with a man to have that child.” This rankled Fox News’ star blowhard Bill O’Reilly, who regarded Aniston’s remark as an endorsement of unwed and under-age motherhood, and told his  cable audience that Aniston was “throwing a message out to 12-year-olds and 13-year-olds that, ‘Hey! You don’t need a guy, you don’t need a dad!” His verdict: “That’s destructive to our society!…Aniston can hire a battery of people to help her, but she cannot hire a dad, okay?” Continue reading