Can Bad People Do Good Things?

Even a curious complaint can be a starter for a very interesting discussion. My critical commenter would seem to have dismissed Woody Allen, not because of his skill (or lack thereof) as a filmmaker, but from his “lacking in basic morals and scruples.” So I put a question to the thoughtful commentariat here: can bad people do good things? And maybe a follow-up query: how bad does bad have to get?

Suppose we have medical research on tortured persons that contributes to the common good. Are we allowed to use it?

Suppose we have great art created by an immoral person. Is there some hidden quality in such music or painting or architecture that is like a moral trojan horse? Does a lesser work suffice because we know there are no traps? And if the sinner repents and reforms, does the horse-in-hiding wither and die?

And just to be sure we’re on the same page, I’m not talking about accepting a known liar as a trusted journalist, or turning one’s finances over to a thief. I’m talking about something totally separate from the sin or the quality noted in the person in question.

These kinds of questions are wrestled with on both ideological extemes, to be sure. Where the Left wants to boycott and persuade a bully (like Bishop Jenky or white-ruled South Africa) into a change of mind and heart, the Right just wants someone’s a** pink-slipped.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to Can Bad People Do Good Things?

  1. Jimmy Mac says:

    I think that the world has an abundance of great art created by “immoral persons.”

  2. Patti says:

    The art either speaks to you, or it doesn’t. Why sit in judgement of the artist as a person?

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