Determining Corruption?:

Is it corruption if one achieves a disirable ends by ignoble means.


Background: William who comments here on occasion was one of the lawyers representing a South Boston Veterans group that organized and ran the St. Patrick’s Day parade each year. He is the co-author of a book on this. One year gays wanted to march in the parade proclaiming their sexual orientation. The veterans group told them they could not march.

The idea in America is that a person who puts on an event has the right to control the message. For instance, if you rented a hall to espouse the Communist ideology you could not be required to let a person opposed to Communism speak; nor could you be required to include one who wanted to speak on the plight of the polar bears in the Arctic. If a group of Greeks were going to demonstrate Greek traditional dances they would not be required to include a group of Irish step dancers. This always seemed a basic American right.

Desirable Goal: Stopping discrimination against gays and advancing their acceptance in society; enjoying a feeling of advancing a more understanding and tolerant society  by doing this.

Ignoble Means: All the judges in Massachusetts except one ruled that gays had a right to march in the parade. Various reasons were put forth but reading between the lines it boiled down that they usurped the parade organizers rights to decide their message. These judges wanted to tell them what message they could send.

Outcome: The Supreme Court of the United States ruled 9 – 0 that the organizer of an event controls the message. That is the law of the land. Judges cannot decide what message a private individual may or may not expound.


Background: About 4% of the 315 million people living in the United States are here illegally, some for decades. They have raised their families while living in this country. Some of their children know little about the land from which they came. They are as American as children born here who can trace their heritage back to the Mayflower. Many speak English better than the language of their mother country.

While these people remain in this miasma they cannot work openly and live in constant trepidation of losing all that they have gained and being deported. This is not beneficial to the country. It would be preferable if the problem were addressed so that they could fully enjoy the benefits of the country. The fears expressed are that offering a means to accomplish that will encourage others to come; it will give benefits to law breakers and send a message to those who sought to come here legally that they were dupes; and that it will become a great burden on our financial resources.

Desirable Goal: Allowing these people to become productive and open members of our society and letting their children enjoy the same benefits as other children who grow up in America do.

 Ignoble Means:  The president of the United States being frustrated by the inability of Congress to come up with a solution which he can endorse acted on his own to bring about the goal. Despite the Constitutional mandate that he see that the laws are enforced he has said he will not do that with respect to some of the immigrants. In effect, he is taking the law in his own hands contrary to the Constitution and the right of Congress to make the laws.

 Outcome: To be determined.


Background:  The nation realized there was no doubt the Mafia existed when more than 100 Italians, mostly Sicilians, from throughout the United States and even from outside, held a meeting in Apalachin, New York, That meeting and subsequent events made it clear the Mafia was a threat to the United States. The FBI was pushed to do something about it. Initially it installed listening devices in the locations of some of the Mafia leaders. It then came up with the idea that it should develop high level informants to infiltrate it. It established the Top Echelon informant program which was to be used in conjunction with the electronic surveillance.

Desirable Goal:  The destruction of the Mafia’s sinister influence in the United States.

 Ignoble Means:  The Top Echelon informant was a criminal who would enter into a long-term arrangement with an FBI agent. This arrangement was to be kept secret from the American people. The informant would give the FBI agent important information; the FBI agent would protect the informant from other law enforcement agencies.

 Outcome: The Mafia was substantially diminished to the point of a minor irritant. Some protected informants murdered people. The protection of such high level criminals was condemned by society. The FBI let one agent who followed the program’s goal take a hit for having done so. The FBI having shifted the blame to the one agent continued on with the program.