Making recent headline for all the wrong reasons last week was the U.S. Secret Service for their late night escapades in Cartagena, Colombia.
(NyTimes) — American investigators seeking to get to the bottom of the reported late-night activities of a group of Secret Service agents and military personnel assigned to President Obama’s recent visit to Colombia have begun searching for as many as 21 women who are believed to include prostitutes and to have spent the night with the security officers, American security officials say. [...] Prostitution is legal in Colombia in “tolerance zones.” A number of brothels in Cartagena are in these zones.
My opinion on this matter is that the agents and military personnel acted dishonorably towards themselves, their country, and their President. The United States has always been at the fore in its show of professionalism when it comes to our government agencies despite the occasional isolated incident. This is why these agents getting themselves wrapped up in this kind of incident is creating such a stir. In reality this makes sense, but in theory it shouldn’t even raise an eyebrow.
For one thing, society has for the past few decades been trending toward degrees of moral relativism. If it doesn’t hurt anyone else, then it’s none of your concern. Or, people must decide what is right for them, and who are you to say what’s right or wrong for someone else? etc. These really aren’t hypothetical statements. I hear them all the time whether it is in the context of same-sex marriage, abortion, or any number of other moral issues. People are bombarded with the idea that they are the sole arbiter of the moral rightness or wrongness of their behaviors.
A main contributor of this problem is the notion that legal = morally good or benign. This is especially true in the case of abortion. Abortion advocates and defenders will argue on the premise that abortion is a legal “right”, therefore, hands-off the issue. This isn’t unique to abortion though. How many times have we encountered someone who defends their behavior with Hey, it’s a free country!?
So here we have an instance of some U.S. Secret Service agents engaging in a legal “business transaction” after a fashion, and they now face disciplinary action. What the agents did was perfectly legal in Cartagena, what is the problem here?
The problem is that we all know right from wrong. You cannot turn the immoral moral by passing a law. Arguments ensue when someone’s desires run into conflict with what they and others know to be wrong and seek to indulge them (See: Who Are You To Say?). Funny how now all of a sudden it is glaringly obvious that what the agents did was wrong. Do what is right in your own eyes — as long as it’s legal, and doesn’t hurt anyone; and now we want to lock the agents up for acting on what society has been teaching them for so long!
We as a society would be much better off if we would just come to terms with the fact that morality is discovered, not determined.