It recently has been revealed that Dr. Bill Bennett, author of the Book of Virtues as well as other notable works, has been spending time in the gambling casinos of Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
It seems that, according to casino records, Bennett has lost millions, but he says that he has broken about even. The amount of money he has lost or won is not the issue. The issue is that Bill Bennett, former Drug Czar, former cabinet member for education, author and speaker whose main message has been virtue or the lack of it in society, has taken part in an activity that is far less than virtuous.
Liberals are giddy at being able to roast a conservative like Bennett, and are doing a good job of it. However, the public needs to understand something: The liberals are trying to convince the public that not only is Bennett a hypocrite, but that everything he has said about morality is wrong because of his actions.
Im not taking up for Bennett and his gambling activity, but it is extremely important that the virtues which he has so ably written about should not be cast aside simply he has disappointed everyone who ever looked to him for his word on moral issues in America.
That is exactly what the liberals want to do. They want to denigrate the moral positions Bennett has taken and say that those positions are open for debate simply because Bennett has fallen.
Those who are attacking Bennett for gambling are themselves essentially saying that gambling is wrong; otherwise, where is their case? Bennett has stood for what is right, and they are attacking him for gambling which betrays the fact that they think gambling is a vice and is therefore wrong. We should thank the liberals for affirming what we have always said about gambling; that it is wrong and harmful.
But while we might be analyzing Bennett and the damage this revelation has done to him personally, we should also take a look at how society at large feels about it. Results of a poll on the World Net Daily Web site show that we need to talk much longer and much louder about virtues than we have.
Readers of World Net Daily are typically conservatives who generally express very conservative opinions in the various polls on the site. This one concerning Bennett and his gambling reveals something very disturbing. One would think that the majority of the people would have said that Bennett was a hypocrite, but that is not what happened. Only 12 percent said he is a hypocrite.
The biggest percentage, 29 percent, said Its surprising, but no big deal. Nearly 16 percent said, If you have the money, whats the harm? while the response, Good for him, theres nothing wrong with it got 8 percent.
No big deal? You would think it would be a huge deal to people who are even partly acquainted with who Bill Bennett is. This graphically displays for us once again just how far society has slipped. Here is the icon of virtuous thought being found out as a gambler, and its no big deal?
Something is terribly wrong here. It proves that people like to talk about the value of virtues and good morality, but so many of the people dont let those virtues and values influence their lives.
Additionally, it must be pointed out that the failure of the man does not negate what he has said. Virtues do not slide up and down a scale that is set to the actions of Bennett or anyone else. They are not right or wrong based on whether the person who stated them is right or wrong.
Moral virtues are right. God stated the basics of them long ago in the Ten Com-mandments and other Bib-lical passages. Bennett is a good man who has stated many good things that would make our nation better if they were followed, but he is a good man who made a bad mistake.
God can forgive him for that, but the sad thing is that people will not. They will never forget it, and the liberals will never tire of trying to take the failings of Bill Bennett and turn them into an argument against the good things he has said concerning good virtues and Godly morality.
That is the real tragedy.
(The Rev. Bill Harrell is pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez.)
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