WASHINGTON, February 17, 2015 — In Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, industrialist Hank Rearden says, “People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one’s reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one’s master.”
That is certainly the case for NBC newsreader Brian Williams. Williams is on a forced six-month suspension without pay for lying on several occasions about coming under enemy fire while covering the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Ranking seventh among its twelve “core values,” the Boy Scouts of America believe “telling the truth and being worthy of trust” are essential to a person’s character development.
Today, the Scouts are seen as anachronistic, institutional disseminators of Judeo-Christian moral values. As the New York Times – our post-modern disseminator – noted, the “cherished national symbol” has fallen into disrepute at a time “when same-sex benefits, diversity training and nondiscrimination policies have become routine.”
“He’s no Boy Scout,” is a statement of praise these days. That’s because truth and personal honor take a back seat to the trendy hobbyhorses of the left.
Some Williams apologists say the respected nightly newsreader did not lie. He simply misrememberd. That hearing the vivid descriptions of an enemy rocket attack, which forced U.S. military helicopters to land in the Iraq desert, played so vividly in the news anchor’s imagination, he made himself the action hero in his own movie.
His defenders are using situational ethics as invented by Joseph Francis Fletcher – a man who abandoned Christianity in favor of Humanism, and attempted to replace Judeo-Christian morality with his own nifty, bell-curve ethics.
Under Fletcher’s theory, “The situationist enters into every decision-making situation fully armed with the ethical maxims of his community and its heritage, and he treats them with respect as illuminators of his problem. Just the same he is prepared in any situation to compromise them or set them aside in the situation if love seems better served by doing so.”
In other words, we can use four millennia of Western religious thought and tradition, its “maxims” and moral “heritage,” as building blocks for Fletcher’s human-centric 1960s ethical system ruled by “love.”
And, voilà, Williams is exonerated! That’s because Williams exemplifies what that philosophical sage of pop-culture, the late singer Whitney Houston, called the “greatest love of all.”
God-like, Williams altered space and time, transporting himself into the thick of the battle. If only in his mind. He lied because he loved so deeply; himself being the supreme object of his affection.
But Williams’ self-centered situational ethics may smash his career into a stone wall. According to New York Post gossip columnist Emily Smith, Williams’ contract with NBC contains a “morality clause” that includes the following:
“If artist commits any act or becomes involved in any situation, or occurrence, which brings artist into public disrepute, contempt, scandal or ridicule, or which justifiably shocks, insults or offends a significant portion of the community, or if publicity is given to any such conduct . . . company shall have the right to terminate.”
It’s too delicious.
Contracts are legal instruments one enters into in good faith (truth). When a certain newsreader breaks that faith (lies), said contract newsreader not only proves his unworthiness in the public’s mind (“disrepute, contempt, ridicule”), he nullifies his lucrative contract.
In the end, what prevents our post-modernist society from descending into moral chaos are contractual agreements – written, declared, or unspoken – answering to an authority much higher than NBC or Brian Williams.