Posts Tagged ‘Chris Matyszczyk’

Well, since I’ve got some intellectual momentum, let us revisit the issues in my previous blog about college cheating.  If there is any great public moral outrage about this story, it hasn’t reared its ugly little head yet.  Presumably, in a few weeks, a reporter will do a follow up story on the young man who claimed that everybody cheats in college.  One can only guess as to the character of that unreported story.  On the other hand, there has been online discussion about it.  Perhaps the most bothersome was this comment to one of the online articles about the event.

His views probably probably represent 80% of college students who are majoring in law, economics, business, accounting, medicine and the other disciplines where morality, ethics and integrity are not taught. He is your (and our) future.

And it is the “your future” part that is most disturbing, because the person who posted that comment is right.  What if we become a world where anything is possible because “everybody does it”.

Chris Matyszczyk, of Cnet.com, writes about the University of Central Florida cheating scandal.  In part his attitude about the matter comes from John 8:7, although he does not cite that passage:

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

Taken out of context, those words would indicate that nobody should say anything  about anybody because we’re all sinners.  It may be true that all are sinners, but one of the major tenets of religion is an acknowledgment that we are sinners.  The idea is to try and do better.  Besides, if applied, the “we’re all sinners so we can’t judge others” would destroy our legal system, the mechanism which protects us from the predations of others.

There’s always an inclination to let things slide, and the phrase “everybody does it” is particularly insidious.  Especially since while everybody may be doing it, specific names of just “who” is doing it are rarely cited.  There’s just this nebulous mass of humanity out there doing it, and I want to get mine while I can.  This is the sort of stuff that you tried to feed your Mom in high school.  It didn’t work then, and it probably should not work now.

Humanity has a track record for letting things drift downward and then catching itself.  Inevitably, there are those who call for “new thinking” on a topic.  The old ideas are just that, old.  We need new stuff.  Consider this extension of that logic:

After extensive research, the staff of the School of Divinity have determined that the Ten Commandments should now be described as the Ten Recommended Practices.  To quote the school’s Dean, “This makes our coursework congruent with modern day realities.  It conveys the modern interpretation of God’s Will into the context of daily life.”

Of course, I’m just riffing here, but you can see the logical train of thought.  The seventh commandment (“You shall not commit adultery”) becomes RP 7 (“You shouldn’t sleep around”).  And, because we are a litigious society, the Ten Recommended Practices would be subject to extensive bureaucratic examination and clarification.  For example:

RP 7 (4)(c)(ii):  It may be possible to sleep with a person who is not your spouse / partner if you are at a convention more than 500 miles from your place of domicile and you have consumed four margaritas and three Cuervo shooters.

Certainly words for our modern times.

Matyszczyk ends his column with:

….there is an essay question: “Cheating in business is both natural and prevalent. Discuss.” You have three hours to answer that one.

Well, to start with, I have to admit that I have already cheated on this essay because I first saw this question three days ago, not three minutes ago.  Be that as it may, I feel that I am still entitled to complete the question and you’ll be hearing from my attorney if you object.  But, hey, that’s the current state of academia.

Moving along, there certainly is the popular conception that business people cheat and steal as a matter of course.  Just take a look at many movies produced by Hollywood.  It is almost always the big bad business people who are doing the cheating and stealing.  Of course, there is little discussion about Hollywood’s typical approach to motion picture accounting, although The Player comes disarmingly close.

With those examples extant, it is no wonder that some of our children draw the conclusion that “This is college, everybody cheats.”  Suit yourself, but I’ve got to believe that children can’t be left to their own devices in front of a television set.

The source of this conversation is a cheating scandal at a university in Florida, but it could just as easily be coming from almost any quarter of our society.  Yes, everybody might cheat, but there are penalties for doing so.  In part, this is a personal favorite of mine, the conservative tenet of taking responsibility for one’s actions.

An individual can cheat on their taxes.  And it is possible that they can get away with it, but if they get caught, the penalties are often substantial.  Needless to say, there are a lot of “ifs” and “ands” to that statement, especially if you have enough money to afford a very good lawyer.  What the government gets you on is false swearing, misrepresenting your financial transactions.  Cheating, if you will.  By cheating on the test, the business students were misrepresenting their knowledge of the subject matter, essentially a false swearing of fact.

The real issue is that we still consider cheating to be deviant behavior.  If we didn’t, one would think that there should be college courses in the art of cheating.  Actually, there are institutions that serve as teaching facilities for cheating; they’re called prisons.  Even if they’re the very nice penal facilities that allow you to improve your tennis game, they’re still jails.  And most who are residents of those facilities are guilty; many of those residents will also assure you that they are, in fact, innocent.

So, while  Cheating in business is both natural and prevalent” in your mind, that doesn’t make it any more legal than it was a hundred years ago.  Hopefully, the same will be true in another hundred years.  In the greater sense, the University of Central Florida cheating scandal is a paradigm for what is going on in our society in general.

If someone doesn’t stand up and object to the cheating, regardless of their personal sins, it will only grow worse.  And, we are the poorer for that.


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