By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: National Greek play needs walk-on roles

Thursday’s New York Times story by Kate Taylor reports on judicial sentencing in the nationwide college admissions fraud case.

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Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

Like many, I’ve probably fallen short in moral indignation toward this story about wealthy, entitlement-minded people facing their legal comeuppance. The more appropriate response is concern that, too often, questions of right versus wrong are being replaced by choices between recognized ethics and devious ways to circumvent them.

Wrote Taylor: “Sentencing has begun for parents who have pleaded guilty to using their wealth to boost their children’s chances: paying to rig entrance-exam scores, securing athletic-recruit status through bribery. Now some of those parents are using their wealth to boost their own chances of getting a lenient sentence, by marshaling the best possible experts and the best possible arguments, some of which bear a trace of the extracurricular résumé-polishing of college applicants.”

We’ve long witnessed a decline of traditional American moralities associated with the nuclear family, religion, abortions, legal accountability and more. Much of that is subject to legitimate debate about social mores and cultural consequences, but honest opinions on controversial issues  are different from the disregard of basic moral ethics.

The Times article focused on excess spending by rich people to reduce penalties for their original illicit use of that same wealth.

Taylor quoted Judge Indira Talwani of the District of Massachusetts, who “has expressed impatience, and even incredulity, at some of the arguments and materials presented to her.” After one defendant submitted an intricate criminologist report in seeking a limited sentence, the judge warned other defendants:

“I maybe should say to you, before I get nine more of these: I don’t feel I need an expert report from a criminologist to tell me how to rule here, particularly where it’s the same criminologist that’s going to be probably presenting for everybody in L.A.”

It was heartening when actress Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty with shame and humility, without excuses. Now, reports say her accomplice in that particular college admission fraud will plead guilty.

Today, and for months to come, the country is engulfed in a national Greek tragedy that involves right and wrong, truth and lies, laws and lawlessness, constitutional imperatives and personal partisan judgments. The cast of that play includes many wealthy, entitled, self-important partisans who lead their respective choruses into political, legal and judicial battles.

Here’s hoping for a few honest, contrite Felicity Huffmans with walk-on roles.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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