I suppose if I saw a man kick his dog, that would define him for me: I
would not care what morality he spouted. There are some acts that do
reveal a person's nasty little heart.
I am not saying we are not all mixed. Genuine good can compensate for
ordinary human "failings"--not for genuine bad. I think kicking sentient
creatures is genuine bad. (Yes there are degrees, but dogs are
pathetically loving and accepting, not objects to abuse). And I do also
think that if one is a professor, one has some obligation to keep one's
less admirable views out of cyberspace. My former husband--who
administered a criminal court--told me long ago that "if you don't want
to see it in a court of law, don't put it on the internet." I think that
was a pretty wise piece of advice.
As for thundering moral rectitude while raping children--it is
unforgivable, except perhaps by the god they claim. I think you are
partly right in saying I expect people to be good, but not in the sense
you seem to mean. I do not think they will be; I think they ought to be.
And no amount of righteous blether or belief matters if they are not.
>>> Peter Dillane 12/21/14 6:01 PM >>>
I suppose my lament is that the question that presents is whether one
swallow makes a summer. What is one to do. Throw out regard for
ostensible merit because you saw the man next door kick his dog in the
backyard? The spin that is used in my business when someone is found
out is that they are one bad apple. I am not suggesting that "they" are
all bad apples but we just by accident of history know what Barry Spurr
has said (but not what he thinks) and we dont know what all the other
professors of poetry think and do in private. Judge them by their acts
they say. Well his acts are public performances and he then has a
private life. I worked in the book trade for a while. It was a
fortunate man who had a diligent family who expurgated their lives
before the library was sold post mortem I found. In clinical practice
you are immersed in private lives and there dont seem to be many angels
out there. I think you expect people to be good while I just hope they
will be as good as they can be. Which is not to say I dont judge. The
cohort of men who taught me as a boy were thunderous about moral
rectitude. Many are now in jail here for raping children. I am angry
about their hypocrisy but more troubling is trying to explain how one
does these things and preaches Jesus the next day. The split ego?
Koestler's take on the neocortex sitting on a reptile mid brain? Dunno.
When I say I wish I didnt know I am not saying it would be better not to
know just that cynicism is hard to corral and it corrupts the other
On 12/22/2014 9:04 AM, Nancy Gish wrote:
> Well, one does not inhale second-hand gay--even if it mattered.
> I'm feeling more than ambivalent about Peter's wish that he did not
> his hero's moral failings. One can, of course, acknowledge good things
> in someone who also had major failings. Pound was a Fascist, but then
> was not teaching it to children or college students. And either way it
> does not change the value of his poetry. If anyone turned to Fascism
> because of his broadcasts, it might alter any judgment.
> But that young woman who deserved the top prize in pathology
> did not get it, and she was hurt by his bigotry. That is a serious
> difference. So, too, was the young gay man who, I gather, lost his
> These actions do have major impact. Think of Alan Turling who was a
> major factor in winning WWII but hounded out of work and destroyed:
> "In 1952, Turing was arrested and tried for homosexuality, then a
> criminal offence. To avoid prison, he accepted injections of oestrogen
> for a year, which were intended to neutralise his libido. In that era,
> homosexuals were considered a security risk as they were open to
> blackmail. Turing's security clearance was withdrawn, meaning he could
> no longer> He committed suicide on 7 June, 1954."
> Is total relativism really ok--any more than total "thought policing"
> when prejudice can do that?
> I'm not suggesting an answer--it's a question.
>>>> Kate Nichols 12/21/14 4:17 PM >>>
> My Professor in college who taught the Modernist class was an open
> homosexual and smoked cigarettes in the classroom. Amusing that in
> society, his being gay would not matter at all and would not be used
> against him, but he may be fired for smoking cigarettes in the
> Kate of Florida
> On Sun, Dec 21, 2014 at 3:49 PM, Peter Dillane
>> Hi Folks,
>> I seem to be tainted with cynicism and moral relativism in this
>> where everyone has such concern about the issues. Barry Spurr is a
>> political player not some dear little thing with wide eyes cruelly
>> down. He was engaged in the political game at the big end of town and
>> this country that is a brutally combative polar dialectic without
> nuance. I
>> find it hard to believe someone could get the job he had without
>> the score. The past thirty years in this country one or the other
>> cultural politics has used its time in power to end the careers of
>> other side. Neither has the moral call on track record. He had a
>> role which will deprive others of their careers perhaps for good. I
>> particularly partisan in this (probably I was on his side in much of
>> )but my point is that this is not the story of an ingenue butterfly
>> crushed on the wheel. I think it does matter that he has said these
>> I don’t think the public interest argument is a strong justification
>> disseminating these private conversations although someone who deeply
>> for the national curriculum and was opposed to his position would see
>> more substantial as a justification for publishing.
>> For the record in terms of him being hounded I have not noticed that
>> anyone much cares, there’s been a tiny hue and no cry really. He
>> and was not dismissed. I suppose he has been pushed but the public
> fact is
>> that he jumped and his University has chosen not to say much at all.
>> political masters have said next to nothing but they did not back him
>> Part of what he was reported to have said had a tilt at them so he
> be a
>> bit friendless. The racist comments were not particularly vile the
>> misogynist ones were. Reading between the lines he has accepted a
>> lame settlement with the publishers on the proviso they publish no
> more so
>> there must be more - and worse. It doesn’t matter that these were
>> nor that he should have known about the porous cyber conduit he was
>> What is is. He chose at a good age with a life of profession> I was
taught by a terrific chap. a professor of Pathology. Erudite,
>> astute, lovely educational technique, approachable and charming.
>> a prize for the top of the year in Pathology. This prize was more
>> itself because it opened doors in your career path. A friend of mine
>> in the next room to that in which the prize was being discussed by
>> professors one year and heard my hero professor say “Clearly the top
>> student on performance is this young woman, but she is a young woman
> and it
>> will be wasted on her.” I still recall some of his lectures and
>> moral stands on issues as very worthy. I do wish I could have them
>> untainted by the knowledge of what is.
>> On another occasion I was talking to a lecturer in the English
>> where I studied in the 1970s and said I very much admired the
>> professor who could recite great mountains of Njal’s saga or Morte
>> from heart and sometimes he became teary during these performances
>> a terrific person he was and so on. She said to me “Mmm ye>> who was giving trouble by recording a conversation in which the man
>> admitted to being homosexual." I wish I didn’t know that bit too.
>> By the way Jim you mentioned that you hoped this wouldn’t tarnish
>> Australia. Mate the way we are treating refugees on the high seas to
>> North and our International non contribution to battling climate
> change are
>> hard acts to follow in the tarnishing department.
>> Cheers Folks