Saturday, December 5, 2009

Commencement Speech

This was the speech Ted Koppel of Nightline gave at the commencement exercises at Duke University. This speech is also in the book Scandalgate:Exposing America's Moral Deficit Disorder by Kenneth J. Brown.
This speech took place more than a decade ago, and it shocked the audiences then, but I think the idea is very valid still today.

"In the place of truth we have discovered facts; for moral absolutes we have substitued moral ambiguity. We now communicate with everone and say absolutely nothing. We have reconstructed the Tower of Babel and it is a television antenna, a thousand voices producing a daily parody of democracy in which everyone's opinion is afforded equal weight regardless of substance or merit....

We have actually convinced ourselves that slogans will save us. Shoot up if you must, but use a clean needle. Enjoy sex whenever and with whomever you wish, but wear a condom. No! The answer is No! Not because it isn't cool or smart or because you might end up in jail or dying in an AIDS ward, but No! because it's wrong....

In its purest form, truth is not a polite tap on the shoulder. It is a howling reproach. What Moses brought down from Mount Sinai were not the Ten Suggestions. They are commandments. Are, not were. The sheer brilliance of the Ten Commandments is that they codify in a handful of words acceptable human behavior, not just for then or now, but for all time."

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