IS GOD IN CHARGE OR NOT?
Does God create but then not control the world? That's what a lot of people in India think, it's reported. The country where I spent two years of my boyhood is endlessly fascinating when it comes to religion. But who knew that so many folks there seem to be essentially deists?
* * *
IN SEARCH OF MORAL VALUES
Maybe you can help me out today.
The first is the O.J. Simpson story. After a huge outcry about a book and interview in which Simpson said he'd describe how he would have killed his wife and Ron Goldman "if I did it," News Corp. pulled the plug on both projects.
In doing so, News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch said this: "I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project. We are sorry for any pain this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson."
Pardon my skepticism, but it seems to me the only reason Murdoch now considers this an ill-considered project is that the public was outraged and he was facing a rebellion among Fox television affiliates who normally would have been expected to carry the interview.
After all, anyone with a lick of ethical sense should have known that this was a terrible idea on so many levels: It would wound the families of the victims again; give a public voice to a manipulative and dangerous man; make yet another mockery of our criminal justice system; be a financial transaction soaked in innocent blood. And on and on. All of this was obvious when the idea first surfaced.
Murdoch and his "senior management" clearly have the morals of a vacuum cleaner. Otherwise they'd have seen that and smashed down this bad project idea immediately. My question: Was it simply money that drove ethical thinking out of the park? Did Murdoch and his corporate sycophants really think the American public would buy anything so gross? (Yes, the public has bought a lot of grossness, but even our entertainment-besotted culture has its limits.)
I don't get it, as I say.
The same day the Simpson story was on the front page of The Kansas City Star last week, there were two other stories inside that left me almost equally puzzled about the lack of ethics and morals and simple good sense.
One was about comedian Michael Richards' apologizing for a clearly racist rant at people who were heckling his stand-up comedy routine. I've seen the video (to which I am decidedly not linking you), and his language far surpassed even Mel Gibson's recent anti-Semitic rantings, though Richards' words were aimed at African-Americans. Later, on David Letterman's show, Richards said, "I'm not a racist. That's what's so insane about this."
People who aren't racists simply don't say the stuff Richards said -- under any circumstances, drunk or sober, provoked or not. If he didn't mean what he said, why did he say it? And if he meant it, why apologize? I don't get it.
Another story that day was about an artist in Ohio who created gingerbread Nazis that the owner of a hardware store displayed in his store's front window. How did the store owner, who removed the display and then criticized it, allow this kind of tasteless ethical violation to occur in the first place? Why not think all this through before doing it? What seems to be blocking our ability to recognize how monstrously offensive words and displays will be taken?
I don't get it.
If you get it, tell me.
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.