First we need to get a couple of things straight. I don’t care what fraternities do with their social events. I really don’t care too much about the decisions of the Greek Judicial Board. I’m sure they probably affect some people’s lives, but not mine. I also don’t care what happened or allegedly happened Dec. 4 at the Overture Center. I don’t care that Alpha Epsilon Pi was on social probation. And frankly, I’m not even really sure what social probation entails. As someone who is not a member of the Greek community, I have a decided lack of interest in pretty much everything that goes on within it. I can’t be interested in everything, and one thing I definitely have no interest in is Greek life. If you are involved and enjoy it, great, just don’t expect me to care.
However, one thing that I do care very much about is when people insult my intelligence by making stupid arguments. When AEPi attempted to justify whatever it may have done by saying that ?the positives greatly outweigh the negatives,? and that it is ?more beneficial than detrimental to this university,? they did just that.
What exactly they did wrong is entirely irrelevant. When AEPi President Jeff Herscott uttered the above statements, he necessarily implied that something negative happened. Otherwise the positives wouldn’t be needed to outweigh it. How minor it may have been, I don’t really care. It wasn’t the action that irked me, it was his justification.
What Herscott attempted to do was justify inappropriate actions by asserting every action, person or group should be judged on some grand, utilitarian balancing scale where the positive attributes are tallied on one side and weighed against the negatives. This kind of logic goes against every intuition people ought to have about what is right and wrong, and, thankfully, it goes against our existing legal structure.
Mother Teresa shouldn’t be allowed to kill, rob or assault someone because she would still be more beneficial than detrimental to society. Those things are wrong no matter how many poor people you’ve helped.
Fortunately, our legal system recognizes that wrong is wrong, no matter how many rights have been done in the process. Bernie Madoff may have given a ton of money to charity, but that still doesn’t mean he should receive a ?Get Out of Jail Free? card after defrauding and stealing from countless investors and pension funds.
Now, if I really wanted to cover all of my bases, this is the part where I would establish a basis for moral and legal systems that would allow you to figure out when actions are truly justified. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I have a word limit, so you will have to settle for taking a philosophy class.
So for now we’re going to have to just agree that a world in which we no longer need to argue about whether OJ did it, but instead about whether the $2 million he donated to cancer research immediately afterward made the action a net benefit to society in the off chance that he actually did it, is not one we want to live in.
If you still disagree with me, I’d love to hear from you, as I have a friend who has offered to donate $1,000 to Haiti earthquake victims every time I punch someone in the face. Since that would likely result in a net positive for the world, I don’t see how you could object to being first in line.
And as for all the fraternities that may have violated their social probation, you will find that significantly less people will care when you stop trying to justify whatever you did with absurd arguments. We’ll just go back to wondering which formula featuring a given Greek letter is our favorite (well, maybe I’m the only who does that) when someone starts talking about things related to Greek life.
Patrick McEwen ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in nuclear engineering.