May 4, 2007

Cheaters Win

When we heard about massive systematized cheating at Duke University's business school, many lamented the state of today's youth. How is it they think they can get away with such breaches of integrity, we asked with indignant rhetoric.

But our entire culture is now a perversion of right and wrong.

These are not young people cheating at Duke, but rather students whose average age is 29 years, and they are completely normal. A study from Rutgers University found that about half of all graduate students admit to cheating, while the number of undergraduates confessing to cheating is about 75%.

This is the generation which has long been of the mind that music, movies, and software are things that should be downloadable for free.

It's difficult to make a case for succeeding without cheating when so much of our culture proves otherwise. Is not the point of our most watched TV show, American Idol, that talent is not a requirement of fame?

Since 2000, one message has been very clear: Integrity is for losers. You can win elections without a majority of votes. You can make a case for going to war by lying about the evidence. Being qualified for a job is not a requirement of getting that job. When questioned under oath by prosecutors or congress, it's OK to lie. Torture is justified if your army is bigger. The purpose of holding public office is to enrich yourself.

So, of course we are a nation of cheaters. What is the incentive to do otherwise? Where are the plaudits for the upright and moral?

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