Letter to the Editor: Immoral, unethical behavior shouldn’t be called mistakes


Recent headlines highlight a disturbing cultural trend — that of referring to prolonged, repeated indiscretions as mistakes. From rumors about baseball’s Alex Rodriguez’s use of performance enhancing drugs to Anthony Weiner’s twitter activity, the landscape is littered with examples of immoral, unethical behavior euphemistically called mistakes.

Let’s clarify: a mistake is an incorrect answer on a spelling test, caused as much by oversight as ignorance. Nor should the term “lapse in judgment” be used of these examples. The air tragedy in San Francisco last month was a lapse in judgment.

No, these men made deliberate, intentional, repeated choices to ignore societal norms of decency and ethics. Flowing perhaps from the egotistical assumption that their achievements placed them above the law, they are defended by references to the fallibility we all possess. Yet in allowing fairness in whatever we attribute their behavior to, let us not trivialize their actions further by referring to them as mistakes.

William Shifflett, Edinburg