Flickering Signs

Despite years of getting a steady diet of "non-judgmental" attitudes from our educational system and the media, we have not yet lost all sense of right and wrong.

Our elites may have, which might explain how anyone could have thought that O.J. Simpson’s book about the murder of his ex-wife and her friend would be accepted by the public. Apparently the clever people who put this deal together thought that a few glib words would defuse any serious objections and perhaps the few voices of outrage would be just enough to create more free publicity for the book.

We have been imposed on so often that it is understandable how some would think that we had reached the point where we would stand for anything.

After all, parents have come to accept the idea that schools have taken over the task of introducing their children to sex — at whatever age and in whatever way, often crude, might be fashionable in education circles.

As taxpayers, we have quietly accepted the fact that our taxes will be spent to pay big bucks for all sorts of ugly, twisted metal to be displayed in front of or inside government buildings, in the name of "art" — art that was obviously never meant to give the public any enjoyment and often represented a thumbing of the artist’s nose at the public.

We have bowed to the little totalitarians like the so-called American Civil Liberties Union who try each year to stamp out more symbols of Christmas. They have even intimidated many schools and businesses into changing the name of their "Christmas vacation" to the "winter holiday." Some stores have been intimidated into dropping the phrase "Merry Christmas."

Yet now and then we sheep rebel. The issue may be large or small but in any event we let the clever folks know that we won’t always buy their cleverness.

For years, the non-judgmental sophisticates argued that Pete Rose should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Whatever rules he may have violated, his record on the field was all that mattered — or so they said.

By this reasoning, Shoeless Joe Jackson should also be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, despite his role in throwing the 1919 World Series. After all, Shoeless Joe hit .408 at his peak and had a lifetime batting average of .356. Those are Hall of Fame numbers.

Mark McGwire, with his 70 home runs in 1998, had a greater season than Pete Rose ever did, so you might think that the baseball writers who vote on such things would be all in favor of putting him in the Baseball Hall of Fame as well, despite the steroid scandal and McGwire’s taking the Fifth Amendment when questioned in Congress about whether he used steroids.

But nearly three-quarters of the writers polled say that they will not vote for him, even though nothing was proved against him. Nothing was proved in court against the players accused of throwing the 1919 World Series but they were all banned from baseball for life anyway.

The fact that everyone is presumed to be innocent in a court of law until proven guilty does not mean that those of us who are not in a court of law have to make that same presumption. It is part of the mindless repetition of words in our time that so many people cannot make that basic distinction.

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings was not convicted in a court of law of taking bribes when he was a federal judge back in the 1980s. But his fellow judges raised that suspicion, his fellow Democrats in the House of Representatives impeached him and Democrats who controlled the Senate removed him from the federal bench.

What Members of Congress were voting on was not whether to send Alcee L. Hastings to jail but whether he was too big a risk to be left with all the powers of a federal judge.

Apparently future House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was willing to risk putting this man with his checkered past in charge of the intelligence committee in the House of Representatives. But outrage among the public, including some in the liberal media, showed that the "non-judgmental" attitude has not yet eliminated common sense and common decency.

There are still flickering signs of hope.