THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE #3, 15 JANUARY 1999

DAVID’S NOTES:

>>> I thought I’d give these mailings a title and begin numbering them from the first one in 1999 so this is #3. If you want #2 or #1 or know someone who does, let me know.

>>> Martin Luther King was born 70 years ago today.

>>> Now that the trial in the Senate has begun it is doubly important to mail, email, fax and call your senators AGAIN. For you who don’t know the numbers for your senators you can get them by going to http://www.rollcall.com/ which will be the home page, scroll to bottom, open Hill Directory, open Find Your Senators. Or go tohttp://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/1411/index.html where you will find a directory for everyone on Capitol Hill.

>>> I’ve been getting some mail from people who so disagree with Clinton about this or that–bombing Iraq, Welfare Reform, NAFTA, proposed increases in military spending, decreases in Medicaid–choose your favorites; I happen to be pissed off at The President for ALL of these–that they think it wouldn not be such a bad idea if he WERE impeached. We have to think clearly here. This impeachment process is not about whether or not Clinton should increase military spending, it’s about a Right Wing take over of various branches of the government–The House of Representatives, the Special Prosecutors Office for two examples. And if the Right Wing wins and kicks Clinton out, how could anyone imagine Al Gore would fare any better in the face of the Right Wing’s new found power or Bill Bradley after he takes the election away from Al Gore? In other words, how will we deal with political differences, animosities, even hatreds now–through impeachment or through elections?

>>> THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE #4, which will follow in a few days, will probably be my own essay/commentary PUT ON YOUR SCARLET LETTER. This piece is a logical follow-up to the main reason for J.M.E. #3 which is Lois Eby’s commentary WHO LACKS MORAL COURAGE AND HONESTY? which will air on Vermont Public Radio this coming Tuesday, 1/19, at approximately 7:50 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Here’s Lois’ essay:

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WHO LACKS MORAL COURAGE AND HONESTY?

by Lois Eby (leby@sover.net)

 

Who lacks moral courage and honesty? I ask myself. It’s easy to point the finger at President Clinton and say that he lacks moral courage and honesty, because he has affairs and tries to hide them from his wife and the public, even to the point of lying about them. But since, according to a study I read about last summer, about 50% of American men and 40% of American women have affairs, which I presume most of them try to hide, even to the point of lying about them, I find it hard to understand why political leaders and media pundits are so quick to point this particular finger at Mr. Clinton, and so willing to let our legal system spend millions on it.

The situation sadly reminds me of The Scarlet Letter, a novel written in 1850 by Nathaniel Hawthorne about a woman in 17th century Puritan New England who is forced to wear a red letter A on her chest as punishment for having committed adultery and having had a child from the affair. In the end, no one in the novel is free of sin, least of all those who pursue, hate, and punish Hester and her lover.

What worries me is that the lack of moral courage and honesty that was present in Puritan New England now dominates our public life at the end of the twentieth century. Everyone wants to attack Mr. Clinton’s lack of moral courage and honesty; almost no one will oppose this thinking and defend President Clinton’s right to privacy and right to deal with his own sins, and by doing so defend the right to privacy for the rest of us as well. And certainly NO ONE wants to acknowledge honestly and openly his or her OWN sins.

I am not condoning Mr. Clinton’s behavior. Neither am I critcizing it. I am asking whether we as a nation want this kind of government intrusion into private life, the life of sexual relationships and personal moral decisions.

This question must be asked of our whole society but especially of women, myself included, who have pushed for laws controlling sexual harrassment on the job to the point that we now have a marriage of liberal ideas and “religious right” morality which has brought us to the legal nightmare of the Paula Jones case and the Independent Counsel pursuit of Mr. Clinton. We all know that sexual relationships are complex and difficult to regulate. It’s clear, for example, that neither Paula Jones nor Monica Lewinsky were or are innocent victims, let alone children. When the state becomes involved in regulating sexual relationships on or off the job, endless legal complexity and the invasion of privacy are sure to result.

Therefore sexual harrassment needs to be much more narrowly defined in the law and the effects of it need to be much more concrete than “psychological harm,” let alone moral offense, for the government to get involved through the law. As individuals, religions, and social groups we can and should discuss what is true morality in the area of sexual relations and we can work hard to raise consciousness in these areas. We can create our own rules and our own sanctions. We can create conflict resolution methods for resolving claims of sexual harrassment and moral offense. But we cannot involve the State and the Law in the relations between men and women except when there is true coercion, as in rape, or true discrimination, or true, concrete job consequence, without sacrificing not only our freedoms and our right to privacy but our moral honesty and integrity as well.

Let’s NOT start handing out scarlet letters again.