Ethics V Morality

I’ve been fairly tough on Michael Kinsley of late, so I’m glad to say I thought today’s column was really very good. He highlights a personal peeve of mine; the confusion of ethics and morality. Journalistic ethics may always require a reporter to protect his sources, but morality can dictate the opposite. I still don’t think the Plame affair is the scandal its boosters claim, though we’ll see what comes out. But the notion that doing the ethical thing is always the right thing simply doesn’t wash. Kinsley offers a great example of such nonsensical thinking:

A very distinguished New York Times writer once told me that if the Times ballet critic, heading home after assessing the day’s offerings of pliés and glissades, happens to witness a murder on her way to the Times Square subway, she has a First Amendment right and obligation to refuse to testify about what she saw.

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