Is Immorality Really Immoral?

I was reading, and intrigued by, a post written by Scott Bonn, a sociology professor and an expert on crime, titled “Beware: Evil Exists Everywhere” . In this post he discusses the act of evil as being socially constructed; that is “all knowledge, including the most basic, taken-for-granted common sense knowledge of everyday life, is actually constructed and reinforced through social interaction” (psychology today.com). In plainer english, we believe in something because we are (1). taught to believe in it, or (2). observed as being true, both of which are in the social environment. This is especially true, or more so, through the interaction between us and our immediate surroundings (at one place and at one time). That is one person’s view of evil, may be different than another person’s view of evil. Dr. Bonn believes that the Salem Witch Trials are a great example for this. The community executed or condemned so many people accused of witchcraft because to them (in 1692 Massachusetts) witchcraft or practicing witchcraft was evil and should be condemned. To us, now,  in the 21st century, it seems silly that that event happened because of advances in technology etc. (psychology today.com).

I contend the idea of morality operates much the same way. Morality is socially constructed, in that what is considered moral here in the USA may be strange or immortal elsewhere and vice versa. Again, the idea of morality, much like the idea of evil is not universal. Case in point, To Mauritania, an African nation, it is moral to force- feed a girl till she is fat because fat in Mauritania means beautiful and a higher chance of getting married (www.businessinsider.com). To us here in the U.S.A., it may seem both immoral and strange to force- feed anyone, especially a girl, because it is child- abuse. Thus, morality is socially constructed as well.

The Social Learning Theory and The Appeal to Consequences

I believe the reason why crimes happen is because criminals do not follow social norms or laws (www.psychologytoday.com) they tend to not fit in with The Social Learning Theory as well as disregarding the consequences. The Social Learning Theory and The Appeal to Consequences are some of the proposed reasons as to why people commit or do not commit crimes. According to the social learning theory, people are capable of changing their behavior from evil to good by learning good behavior through positive influences (www.southalabama.edu). Some ways that a person might learn good behavior is through their upbringing and/ or observing social norms. One such social norm and/ or a way to up-bring a child is through observing or teaching the notion that every action has it’s consequences. For example, if a reasonable person runs a red light they know they will get a ticket. Therefore, knowing these detrimental consequences to these ‘crimes’ they know it be best not to commit these ‘crimes’ because they don’t want to get in to trouble!

This type of learned or observed thinking discussed previously is known as The Appeal to Consequences. The Appeal to Consequences states that a person would not commit a certain act because of its consequences (www.gloryhood.com). Thus, some may say that ‘the appeal to consequences’ is not an accurate way to determine why a criminal commits a crime because this type of thinking is commonly found as a fallacy. For example, one might argue,”I don’t think that there will be a nuclear war. If I believed that, I wouldn’t be able to get up in the morning. I mean, how depressing”(www.nizkor.org). Thus, this is commonly found to be a fallacy because it does not follow logic rather consequences instead; using the example above, just because you can sleep at night does not mean a nuclear war wouldn’t happen. Your consequence of believing that a nuclear war’s chances of happening is irrelevant to your presupposed consequence. Maybe you slept well because you had a nice dinner.

I contend, however, the appeal to consequences is not always defined as a fallacy. This particular case may be a case where the appeal to consequences is a fallacy, but again it is NOT always the case. The appeal to consequences, in my case, is not discussing it as a fallacy, rather  discussing it in a more generic definition. That is, people in general logically do things or don’t do things because of the resulting consequences.

For example, it is generally logical and reasonable to assume that running a red light will result in a ticket because it is a traffic law in all states (http://traffic.findlaw.com). For example, New Jersey statue or N.J.S.A 39:4-8.15 states that, “The owner and operator shall be jointly liable for a traffic control signal violation summons issued … who pays any fine, penalty, civil judgment, costs or administrative fees in connection with a traffic control signal violation has the right to recover that sum from the operator in a court of competent jurisdiction” (http://www.njjcpd.org). In plainer English, the person who violates a traffic violation is liable for that violation by paying a fine (unless the person can prove in a court that the person was not liable for that violation).

However, since most criminals do not follow social norms or laws (www.psychologytoday.com) they tend to not fit in with The Social Learning Theory and they disregard consequences (this is, again, used in a generic way, not as a fallacy) too. By not fitting into the S.L.T. and by disregarding the appeal to consequences, they will tend to appeal to emotions rather than logic; they tend to be sporadic and demonstrate rather violent behavior. Crimes happen or rather are more likely to happen when violent behavior is demonstrated.

Is “Happy Face” a Sociopath or a Psychopath

I normally do not post about criminals and their heinous acts; I wondered what Keith Hunter Jesperson (Happy Face Killer) would be categorized as. Would he be a psychopathic or a sociopathic killer.  It was difficult to discern, as he fit the descriptions for both types as defined by the “fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), released by the American Psychiatric Association”(www.psychologytoday.com). However, I contend that Keith Jesperson is sociopathic serial killer. The reason I believe he is a sociopath is because he fit most of the description of a sociopath.

According to the same manual listed above, sociopaths have the following characteristics:

“They are volatile and prone to emotional outbursts, including fits of rage. They are likely to be uneducated and live on the fringes of society, unable to hold down a steady job or stay in one place for very long. It is difficult but not impossible for sociopaths to form attachments with others. Many sociopaths are able to form an attachment to a particular individual or group, although they have no regard for society in general or its rules. In the eyes of others, sociopaths will appear to be very disturbed. Any crimes committed by a sociopath, including murder, will tend to be haphazard and spontaneous rather than planned” (psychology today.com).

Keith was volatile by having fits of rage because he raped and strangled/ choked all his 8 female victims and when he was little he killed and tortured animals in the most inhumane ways. He was educated, but not beyond a high school level because his father said he couldn’t do it, though some may argue that he was rather smart because he had a IQ of 102 (maamodt.asp.radford.edu). He had a few friends, in fact, the only friend he had was Duke (a dog) that Keith’s dad shot because it did not look healthy (maamodt.asp.radford.edu). I presume that the formed an attachment with women, as all his 8 victims were women and none of these murders were planned (maamodt.asp.radford.edu) though some may say that he wanted to kill these victims, I contend not.

White Privilege…What About Affirmative Action?

I once read a great article on (psychologytoday.com) titled “I Sometimes Feel Guilty About My White Male Privilege” by a world renowned crime expert Dr. Scott Bonn. He argues that although white (males, especially) derive their successes from effort and attitude, most of the success is derived from people’s biological makeup (psychologytoday.com). By being a white male in America will give them higher salaries, preferential treatment,  and become more influential (i.e.: Fortune 500 C.E.O.’s and  U.S. Congressmen). Heck, getting a access to a  job opening might also be an example of white preferential treatment (psychologytoday.com).

I believe that white privilege can be socially unequal because it promotes white patriarchal privilege over the other races in existence. We never question this act of unequalness; we just let this happen as nothing had happened. However, we debate affirmative action. Affirmative action is defined as the practice of improving the educational and job opportunities of members of groups that have not been treated fairly in the past because of their race, sex, etc. (merriam-webster.com). Races may be, but not limited to Latinos, African Americans, and women. For example, instead of looking at resumès and qualifications, colleges look at sexual and / or racial minorities when admitting.  Some people believe it is not fair because the colleges put preferential treatment over the qualifications and merit. As a sort- of- discrimination. If we are so overly worried about preferential treatment and basing things on race,sex, etc. and not merit, why aren’t we concerned about white privilege?

Public Opinion: A Case Study on the Teaneck High School Senior Prank

Some of you may or may not may not know, but couple weeks ago several seniors from Teaneck High School in New Jersey pulled a prank, or as some considered vandalism because of the nature of the act, that landed 63 students in trouble (northjersey.com). The students allegedly broke in to the high school during the the wee hours before school and “broke chairs and desks, scrawled graffiti and smeared petroleum jelly on doorknobs, (allegedly) urinated on floors and scattered balloons…” (northjersey.com). According to This damage cost the school 970 dollars to clean up. The custodians, however, were in dismay that the some of the facts in reports of the extensive damage were wrong. In fact, they did not find any urine; thus, the custodians told the school that they wanted to donate their custodial services during the prank’s aftermath, rather than be paid for the time and making the students pay for the bill (nj.com).

Some are infuriated by the thought of letting the students get away with what they have done by having them not pay for the damage. According to a poll administered by (nj.com) 89.74% of people who answered the poll believe that the students should pay for the damage. That is 15.40 dollars for each individual student involved. Others who held protests against the charges and the paying of the damages think the charges (and if they get convicted of the charges–which they most likely will) would hurt the students chances of college because they will have a criminal record. Here is my take, I think that the students should pay the damage and settle out of court (hoping that the charges will be dropped) before they get convicted (guilty) of these charges and have a criminal record (if they go to court). It’s a win win– kind of. The student learned their lesson by paying back the damage done and the students by admitting their wrong doing they won’t have a criminal record.      

Agenda vs Individual

Lately, home realtors and home makeover hosts David and Jason Benham lost their future show on HGTV because of this quote about homosexuality. David Benham said, “we have a homosexuality and agenda that is attacking the nation”(www.rawstory.com). It backfired on them because HGTV and the media probably thought that they were against LGBTs in general (both people and the agenda). This quote (which was taken out of context) prompted the brothers to set things straight with Erin Burnett of CNN,”we just set the record straight, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to say directly to the camera that we love homosexuals …we have nothing against the people. There’s a difference between the people and an agenda” (www.CNN.com).

As an ally, here is my take. First, I agree that the media has taken the quote WAY out of context (to assume that the “agenda” encompasses both the agenda and the people involved (LGBTs); “the agenda”and “the people” are two different things (they even have different definitions– GASP!!!). Agenda is defined as, “an underlying often ideological plan or program” (merriam-webster.com) and people are defined as,”persons (human being) indefinitely or collectively” (dictionary.com). Second, lets come up with an example, say for instance you had a very very nice math teacher that gave you all good grades, but on one fine morning she decided to teach fractions (which you dislike). Would you hate her and cut off all contact with her for this? Probably not. It’s the same thing here, just because they hate the homosexual agenda (just like you dislike the math teacher teaching fractions on one fine morning) does not mean you hate the teacher (them not hating LGBT’s)