A Philosopher's Blog

ACORN & Prositution

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on September 11, 2009

ACORN is once again in the news. This time it is because two employees were taped giving advice about prostitution and how to evade the IRS.  ACORN was last in the news because of concerns about fraudulent voter registration.

The video was created by conservative activists posing as a pimp and a prostitute. The employees in question are said to be seasonal, part time employees and not ACORN officials.

Obviously, the fact that the employees were willing to give such advice is a matter of concer. However, the implications of this video must be properly considered.

First, while the employees were ACORN employees, there is the question of whether or not they presented ACORN’s actual views on prostitution. It seems that they did not, since they were fired for unprofessional behavior. Also, there were several attempts to run the same sting at other ACORN offices that failed. As such, the most reasonable inference is that the employees acted on their own and revealed their own ethical views rather than those of ACORN itself. To think otherwise would be fall victim to a rather hasty generalization. This would be on par with thinking that all Republicans commit adultery because of that governor’s little “walk along the Appalachian trail” or to conclude that all Republicans are uninformed and rude because of Joe Wilson’s actions.

Of course, it does show that ACORN probably needs to work a bit on how it screens its employees. After all, ACORN had problems with part time employees who provided fraudulent voter registration forms. ACORN officials, it must be noted, were the ones who informed the government about the irregularities in question. If they had been involved in a plot, they would have hardly brought these problems to the attention of officials.

Second, there is the question of how “honest” the video actually is. The video has been edited and fades to black in some areas, leading one to wonder about the whole story. The Daily Show illustrates how a little creative editing can change how something appears, so that is something that should be kept in mind. Of course, it should also be kept in mind that the video might have simply been edited on reasonable grounds and that it does show events in an honest and accurate way.

So, what does the available evidence support? The most reasonable conclusion is that the ACORN employees acted on their own and do not represent ACORN’s official views. In light of the problems ACORN has had in the past, it does show that ACORN should review its hiring practices. Of course, even the best hiring practices can let in bad apples.

It should not be concluded that ACORN is itself for prostitution or in support of evading the IRS. Now, if the video had shown ACORN policy makers offering such advice, then the matter would be quite different. But, the evidence needed to show that ACORN has a policy of advising prostitutes and pimps is lacking.

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September 11, 2009

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on September 11, 2009

Today is, of course, September 11. Like most people, I have vivid memories of 9/11/2001. While that day retreats deeper into the past with each passing year, the mark it left upon us remains strong.

We should pause and remember the people who died and the people who did all they could to try to save those in danger. That day revealed the worst of humanity as well the best: those who would murder the innocent and those who would die to save others.

The event also changed how we see the world. America had faced war and terror before, but not something on that scale-not on our own soil. In some ways, we became a better people because of it. But, it made us a worse people in other ways. We are still sorting things out and will no doubt do so for a long time to come.

My own reflection on the event is that it should inspire us to be not just opponents of evil but also supporters of the good. That is, we should do more than simply try to wage war against those who would harm us. We should seek to make the world better by improving it. While I am realistic and know that we cannot expect everyone to love peace and virtue, we do have the power to shape the world-for good or for bad.

As 9/11 showed, people can chose what they will be. Some folks chose to murder the innocent. Others elect to protect life. Bush was quite right-9/11 and what followed was (and is) a moral struggle. But, this has always been the case. The history of the world is marked by this moral struggle.

I am no fanatic about this matter-I am not willing to do anything for my cause and I do not hold that the ends justify the means. But, I also am no fool about this and recognize that doing what is right can sometimes require harsh measures. But, these must be such that they serve the cause of right and not partisan need or a thirst for bloody vengeance.

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