A 2007 Canadian study (Canadian Journal of Higher Education, Feb., 2007) reported that 53% of undergraduates confessed to at least some cheating in class, and 73% of them said they cheated in high school. Two years earlier an ABC poll reported pretty much the same for American students. The business school community, spurred on by the 2007 Fuqua scandal at Duke where 34 MBA students were caught cheating on an exam, is beginning to look at the quality of the product they are producing. But it doesn’t end there.
David Calahan wrote The Cheating Culture in 2004 and has managed to parlay it into an entire business devoted to uncovering and teaching about cheating in our society. Uncovering is not that hard to do. Noted journalists see their careers extinguished over plagiarism. Each spring the IRS tells us again how much tax cheats cost the rest of us. The sub-prime mortgage debacle was brought on by a ponzi scheme of enormous proportions reaching into the very centers of the American financial industry. The current administration has revealed itself to have been built on deception and lies, and the previous one certainly played fast and loose with the truth.
It is not a pretty picture, and so it should be no surprise that the Democratic parties of Michigan and Florida felt no compunction about flouting the rules of the game to do what they wanted to do, the way they wanted to do it, and when they wanted to do it. Now, having cheated the system at the start, they are without guilt or remorse in demanding that their cheating be honored by the full counting of their votes, and that those who obeyed the rules be, in effect, penalized for having obeyed them. The Rules Committee compromise is probably the best that could be expected, but it also sends a signal of toleration for cheating. I am afraid it is a toleration that pervades the American psyche to the point where we don’t really see much wrong with the sort of cheating that has become an everyday affair. To be sure, we will get on a variety of high horses over some aspects of sex, reproductive rights or the environment, but when it comes to the ordinary events of everyday life we are curiously silent. Is that because we don’t even know when we have crossed the line into unethical territory?
What does the Church have to say about that? What do you have to say about that?