Issues, Musings

Corruption: Are We Doomed?


By Colleen Ladd, University of Central Florida

Has society always been corrupt or are we increasingly growing more formidable as time progresses?

All in a day’s time, one can witness a tweeted pic of a “Wiener” from a politician, a maid reveal about her hidden child with a governor robot who promised he’d “be back”, tweens #winning with an aged tiger blood celeb, and a 51-year-old actor marry a 16-year-old whose plastic 40-year-old-looking-face tries to prove worthy of their age gap.

All appalling within the first ten minutes after reading about them, but all disposable news that just seems to recycle itself for next week’s paper. There is no question that our society is unethical and daunting, but I do raise that previously stated internal question that I have yet to discover the answer to.

Corruption among society is a firmly planted tree. Its leaves are withered with profanity, its trunk carved with a knife of deception, and its roots filled with the actions of its citizens and acclaimed “role models.”

What’s developed in my mind is this great inclination that we’ve always been this corrupt. As said so wisely by a friend of mine while discussing the issue,”You don’t think a 50-year-old in ancient Rome was banging 16-year-old slaves?” In which I replied, “Exactly.”

With that being said, I decided to gallivant the high seas of ancient corruption and historical political taboo via Google. I foolishly searched “bad things people did in history” as if I were a vapid trophy wife. After failing miserably I searched, “sexual taboo in ancient Rome.” Winner winner, chicken dinner. “5 Worst Roman Emperors” appeared on my screen. I decided to, personally, hand-pick the poor excuse for a man who out-shined them all, Caligula.

“Caligula revived the treason trials of his predecessor, Tiberius, opened a brothel in palace, raped whomever he wished, reported on the woman’s performance to her husband, committed incest, killed for greed, and thought he should be treated as a god.”

I’m not quite sure if the vagueness of “raped whomever he wished” meant anything goes – women, children, men, goats, etc. – but I’m not too troubled by that piece of information compared to the latter, “reported on the woman’s performance to her husband.” Caligula not only had his way with any woman but he took form of a mechanic by giving free performance checks to their husbands who seemed to have misplaced their balls.

Godly of a man, indeed. But ya’ll still need to hide yo kids, hide yo wife, hide yo husband – because Caligula is rapin’ everybody out there.

One example of a time when they held the Olympics with naked men as contenders will not suffice as corruption being a common concept for all of history. This brings me to Exhibit B

“James Callender expected to be rewarded by the Jeffersonians after he was jailed under the Alien and Sedition Acts. When Jefferson was slow to release him from prison and failed to award Callender a position as a postmaster, Callender published the story, which seems to be confirmed by genetic testing, that Jefferson was the father of numerous children by a slave mistress.”

Thomas Jefferson. You know, the third president of the United States. He authored that piece of paper called the Declaration of Independence that we learned about in our elementary years and disposed of when we hit the monkey bars at recess. Although, I don’t quite remember reading about bastard children running around the fields of new-found freedom, but let’s just say I skipped over a few lines of our text-book.

With more personal research on your own, it isn’t hard to find scandalous “mishaps” in almost any time frame. Further progressing on my internal question and heading full speed to a dead-end, I come to latent thoughts that form into a cloud of conclusions. It’s not that we are becoming more and more outlandish as time ticks forward, but it’s rather that we are developing more and more media outlets and social networking applications that both grasp and peel back the curtains to the oblivious.  As social technology blooms, society’s reputation rots in moronic and embarrassing soils.

What once was just word of mouth and printed words on news papers distributed by tattered, lower class paper boys is now instantaneous news breaks that get sent to our televisions, computers, phones, iPads and countless other multifaceted ways to receive the same result of information. In a world obsessed with the newest technology that delivers quicker each $500 price increase and a myriad of ways to find out what one is doing through unnecessary status updates and ear-piercing #tweet-tweets, it isn’t a wonder at all that there are frequent leaks of misconduct and unethical acts.

But this raises more than just the obvious issues. It raises the issue of what will become the standard spectrum of responses to these unscrupulous misdemeanors? Will we accept what’s happened with natural ease as our responses transform from gasps to sighs to accepted silences? Or will we hold the standards we innately know and put the tiny voice of righteousness on megaphone and wave our ethical flag of pride, high for all to see and recognize from their own?

It seems that since messed-up-shit has been around since the beginning of time – we may never see the trend of morals and ethics make a comeback and dominate the ratio of corrupt to righteousness.

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