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Choosing an Ethical Standard

April 14, 2002

Lee Green's exceptionally well-written profile of Michael Josephson and the secular ethics movement succeeds in capturing the essence of a remarkable man making remarkable contributions to American society ("The Indisputable Mr. Scruples," March 10). Josephson's insights into the ethical dilemmas of our times and the clarity with which he is able to bring these into focus for a wide and diverse audience qualifies him as a sort of national treasure.

The Los Angeles YMCA is one of more than 500 disparate organizations across the nation involved with Josephson's Character Counts! Coalition in teaching children (and the people who work with them) the common language of the "Six Pillars of Character": trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. A society that fails to understand what it takes to raise children of character has a lot more to worry about than almost anything else that might occupy its time and attention.

Larry M. Rosen

President and CEO

YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles

*

Green's article shows that the mere idea of secular ethics is weak at best. There are so many holes in it that finding a place to start is difficult. Josephson's "Six Pillars of Character" only work if there is an objective moral absolute to hold them up against. Whose standards of caring, fairness, responsibility, etc. do we use as a measuring stick? Josephson's? Mine? Mother Teresa's? Hitler's? Perhaps if there were someone who was perfect, that would be the place to start. You can see how secular ethics doesn't work, and that we end up back at relativism and the damage that it has caused. There is either an objective good and bad or there isn't, and if there isn't, then nothing's wrong.

Shane W. Cadman

Whittier

*

I was astounded by the opening paragraphs of Green's article in which Josephson confronted the principal of L.A.'s Cathedral High School, the soccer coach of St. Genevieve High School and Los Angeles Times sportswriter Eric Sondheimer about their apparent approval of athletes probing the limits of sports rules as long as they don't get caught. Can these responsible people truly concur with Al Davis' "just win, baby" philosophy of sports? There is a vital need to reinstate sportsmanship, for without sportsmanship, the true value of sports will be lost. We need more of Josephson making us realize the importance of how we play games.

Bill Mead

Oak View

*

I dispute Mr. Scruples. The U.S. women's soccer team did not cheat to win the 1999 World Cup. It was the referee's job to whistle the infraction. The referee's mistake (or cowardice) cannot be construed as cheating. Goalkeeper Briana Scurry jumped off her line for the same reason a sprinter false starts or a drag racer pops his clutch too soon, and she had every right to expect the referee to do his/her job and penalize her for it. She had no intention of exposing herself to charges of cheating. Josephson's accusation is bizarre and undermines his otherwise commendable endeavor.

David Morgan

El Segundo

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