The notion that country-club chairmen and New York Times writers have a social duty to defend monogamy seems old-fashioned. But the decline of marriage and monogamy, and the related rise of inequality, suggests that we need to use private associations and public institutions as mild means of encouraging virtue. This is especially true, I think, if you oppose more stringent forms of morality legislation. Here’s hoping that we get used to exercising our index fingers once again.
I suppose in comparison to morality legislation, a little moral outrage on the part of our nation's golf club chairmen is a tolerable irritation. But it certainly is irritating. From Payne's remarks:
"Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children," said Payne.
"It is not simply the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here, it is the fact he disappointed all of us and more importantly our kids and our grand kids."
First of all, that second paragraph simply makes no sense. How did he disappoint anyone, if not in the degree of his misconduct? Further, I don't understand how the disappointment could be worse than the behavior that provoked it. It's a nonsense statement.
But worse than the perplexing syntax and topsy-turvy moral hierarchy is the tired squawking about our poor, disillusioned children. I am bothered by this for two reasons:
1) I have never understood why athletes are held up as heroes because they are particularly good at sports. While I am terrrrrrrrrrrrrrrible at sports myself, this has nothing to do with any cultural resentment of the primacy of athletics in this country. (Well, OK. Maybe a little.) Rather, I don't get why one's ability to dunk, pitch or tackle somehow translates into moral authority. Say what you will about Charles Barkley, I still agree with his "I am not a role model" argument, though I'm not sure he needed to go to such lengths to prove it. Perhaps this is a good opportunity for children to learn several important lessons, including that even people we admire can let us down, and that just because a person is good at one thing doesn't mean they're perfect.
2) I think it's preposterous when disappointed adults project their feelings onto "the children." I don't believe it was America's children that have been buying all those copies of Star Magazine and InTouch. Not one single parent has brought their child to see me because of Tiger Woods sex scandal-induced depression. Our nation's youth, "our kids and grand kids" will be just fine. It's okay for the grown-ups to admit that they, personally, are the ones who are so