A Philosopher's Blog


Posted in Ethics, Politics, Race by Michael LaBossiere on April 13, 2007

As almost everyone knows, Imus got in trouble for using both a sexist and a racist term to describe the members of Rutgers basketball team.

While saying such things is not morally acceptable, it is important to keep in mind two moral principles.

The first is that it is unreasonable to expect moral sainthood from human beings. Human beings are fallible and make mistakes-often stupid and serious ones. This should always be taken into account when passing judgment on others.
The second principle is that of reversing the situation.  When passing moral judgment you should consider what it would be like to be the person on the receiving end.  So, think about something unpleasant or cruel you might have said or done that you were truly sorry about. No doubt you wanted to be forgiven for that offense. If we are to expect others to forgive us, we need to be willing to forgive them.

If Imus said what he did because of a stupid mistake and is truly sorry for his words (and not just sorry he is in trouble), then the right thing to do is forgive his offense…as we would want to forgiven for our offenses. Naturally, if he is not truly sorry, then he should not be forgiven.

I am old enough to remember when Jesse Jackson made his infamous “Hymie town” remark. It was a stupid thing to say and he paid for that thoughtless remark. At the time I thought that he should not have said it, but I also thought that he should be forgiven for the same reason I now think Imus should be forgiven.

Of course, these remarks were not directed against me and perhaps I would think differently if they were.


One Response

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  1. Adrienne Stapleton said, on April 26, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    Hello Dr. Labossiere,

    I am a former student of your Critical Thinking and Aesthestic classes and majored in philosophy at Florida A&M. As a matter of fact, I remember Kermit Harrison, and I am happy to see how well he is doing.

    Although philosophy did not ultimately become my chosen career, I continued to read books about philosophers and philosophies for some time. I must admit that I have not read much in the way of philosophy these days. Sometimes I feel that the study of philosophy feels one with more questions than answers. I suppose you probably would not agree.

    I felt compelled to write to say I have enjoyed reading both of your blogs and that I hope that the philosophy program at FAMU continues to flourish.


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