End of the professional/personal divide

An article on how the Navy has been sacking commanding officers for personal misconduct ends with a striking quotation:

The Navy has fired a dozen commanding officers this year, a near-record rate, with the bulk getting the ax for offenses related to sex, alcohol or other forms of personal misconduct.

The terminations, which follow a similar spike in firings last year, have shaken the upper ranks of the Navy, which has long invested enormous responsibility in its commanding officers and prides itself on a tradition of carefully cultivating captains and admirals.

Over the past 18 months, the Navy has sacked nine commanding officers for sexual harassment or inappropriate personal relationships. Three others were fired for alcohol-related offenses, and two on unspecified charges of personal misconduct. Combined, they account for roughly half of the 29 commanding officers relieved during that period.

Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations, called the increase in firings “bothersome” but said the Navy was duty-bound to uphold strict behavioral standards, even when commanders are off-duty. He attributed the rise in part to the revolution in communications and technology, which has made it easier for sailors and their families to snoop on one another and then instantly spread the word — even from once-isolated ships at sea.

“The divide between our private and professional lives is essentially gone,” Roughead said in an interview. “People can engage in the debate — does it really matter what a commanding officer does in their personal life? We believe it does, because it gets right to the issue of integrity and personal conduct and trust and the ability to enforce standards.”

via Navy has spike in commanding-officer firings, most for personal misconduct – The Washington Post.

It has been something of a mystery why Rep. Anthony Weiner was forced to resign for his social media postings, while President Clinton with his actual as opposed to virtual adultery was re-elected.  Perhaps this is the answer.  Our technology has evolved to the point that there is no longer a boundary between one’s private and public lives.  Not just when it comes to misbehavior but in other areas as well:  Computers and cell phones enable people to work and do business at home as well as at the office.  People are always on their cell phones, sometimes dealing with business while at a ball game or a family gathering, and sometimes dealing with family issues at work.  But it isn’t just work. . . .

Could it be a healthy development that we are becoming less compartmentalized?  At least when moral behavior and holding people accountable are concerned?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Jeremy

    There is a good point here in that social media and other technologies are making our lives less compartmentalized, and thus exposing potential misdoing. As this continues more, I think this is going to force us as a society to be more forgiving, as it’s going to become apparent that everybody has dirt on them. For example, up until know, we’ve known little about figures such as our parents, presidents, and others spend their youths. But with facebook and other tools recording people’s lives, we’re going to know a lot more about how a president spent his teens, 20s, and 30s. My prediction: By the year 2030, we’re going to have elected a president who had a very embarrassing facebook/ myspace/ mysocialmedia.com page.

  • Jeremy

    There is a good point here in that social media and other technologies are making our lives less compartmentalized, and thus exposing potential misdoing. As this continues more, I think this is going to force us as a society to be more forgiving, as it’s going to become apparent that everybody has dirt on them. For example, up until know, we’ve known little about figures such as our parents, presidents, and others spend their youths. But with facebook and other tools recording people’s lives, we’re going to know a lot more about how a president spent his teens, 20s, and 30s. My prediction: By the year 2030, we’re going to have elected a president who had a very embarrassing facebook/ myspace/ mysocialmedia.com page.

  • Carl Vehse

    The Ozero corruptocrats will throw even a fellow sleazeball under the bus if they think public outrage about him threatens to spur GOP-lead congressional investigations that could lead to bringing down a corrupt regime. They really didn’t have to worry; there are too few GOP backbones in the House to do anything that patriotic.

  • Carl Vehse

    The Ozero corruptocrats will throw even a fellow sleazeball under the bus if they think public outrage about him threatens to spur GOP-lead congressional investigations that could lead to bringing down a corrupt regime. They really didn’t have to worry; there are too few GOP backbones in the House to do anything that patriotic.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Keep in mind that Lewinsky-gate was after Clinton’s reelection. The shame with Clinton is that a majority of his supporters knew about his dishonesty and infidelity and (according to polls taken in 1993) did not care.

    That said, it’s nice that at least one scumbag got shown the door, but we’ve got a few more. It’s nice to see the Navy start a good trend, though.

    One thing I’d love to see–and for which I’d be pilloried by many I think–is for people looking at high positions to be evaluated more on their family life. Not just politicians, but also business executives.

    More or less, what I’m getting at is that if you’re 50 and single, or on your third marriage, or have the habit of working 70-80 hours per week, shouldn’t your prospective employer ask the question “if this is how he treats his family, how is he going to treat his subordinates?”

    (and yes, this is one big reason I only reluctantly pulled the lever for John McCain a few years back!)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Keep in mind that Lewinsky-gate was after Clinton’s reelection. The shame with Clinton is that a majority of his supporters knew about his dishonesty and infidelity and (according to polls taken in 1993) did not care.

    That said, it’s nice that at least one scumbag got shown the door, but we’ve got a few more. It’s nice to see the Navy start a good trend, though.

    One thing I’d love to see–and for which I’d be pilloried by many I think–is for people looking at high positions to be evaluated more on their family life. Not just politicians, but also business executives.

    More or less, what I’m getting at is that if you’re 50 and single, or on your third marriage, or have the habit of working 70-80 hours per week, shouldn’t your prospective employer ask the question “if this is how he treats his family, how is he going to treat his subordinates?”

    (and yes, this is one big reason I only reluctantly pulled the lever for John McCain a few years back!)

  • Dennis Peskey

    The comparison between military personnel and civilians suffers from a fatal flaw; the military operates under a seperate and distinct legal code apart from civilians. As we were clearly instructed before we ever were granted any off-base liberty, “Once a Marine, Always a Marine.” While you may not be in uniform, your still in the service – act accordingly (the UCMJ applies outside the white lines of the base). Imagine our society if we held the same recognition of God’s Law.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    The comparison between military personnel and civilians suffers from a fatal flaw; the military operates under a seperate and distinct legal code apart from civilians. As we were clearly instructed before we ever were granted any off-base liberty, “Once a Marine, Always a Marine.” While you may not be in uniform, your still in the service – act accordingly (the UCMJ applies outside the white lines of the base). Imagine our society if we held the same recognition of God’s Law.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • DonS

    Dennis @ 4: I think the point is, though, that military officers have probably always acted, proportionally speaking, in these kinds of ways, but now their personal foibles are more readily observed, thus the spike in disciplinary procedures. So, it’s not really about the differences between military and civilian conduct standards, it’s about the difference between past eras, and our current highly connected era.

    As for the Weiner/Clinton comparison, Weiner was pressured, but not forced, to resign. He chose to, in part, because he was caught redhanded in a despicable lie when he attempted to blame his misdeeds on a “hacker”. Clinton was also pressured to resign, mostly because he actually committed perjury, but resisted, to the point of putting the country through an impeachment proceeding. He was simply more shameless, and also had more support from his fellow Democrats, probably because it is much easier to throw a Congressman in a safe Democratic district over the side than it is to throw over your President.

  • DonS

    Dennis @ 4: I think the point is, though, that military officers have probably always acted, proportionally speaking, in these kinds of ways, but now their personal foibles are more readily observed, thus the spike in disciplinary procedures. So, it’s not really about the differences between military and civilian conduct standards, it’s about the difference between past eras, and our current highly connected era.

    As for the Weiner/Clinton comparison, Weiner was pressured, but not forced, to resign. He chose to, in part, because he was caught redhanded in a despicable lie when he attempted to blame his misdeeds on a “hacker”. Clinton was also pressured to resign, mostly because he actually committed perjury, but resisted, to the point of putting the country through an impeachment proceeding. He was simply more shameless, and also had more support from his fellow Democrats, probably because it is much easier to throw a Congressman in a safe Democratic district over the side than it is to throw over your President.

  • Joe

    Clinton was 100% of a branch of government; Weiner is 1/435th of one-half of a branch of government, I think the math matters.

  • Joe

    Clinton was 100% of a branch of government; Weiner is 1/435th of one-half of a branch of government, I think the math matters.


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