Country Life Every Week - - Contents - Fol­low @agromenes on Twit­ter

AS the world grows mad­der ev­ery day, Agromenes longs for an In­sti­tute for Com­mon Sense. Hands on knees, se­cret vis­its to Ne­tanyahu, Cay­man Is­land ve­hi­cles, ‘no-gun’ shoot­ings— there’s hys­te­ria, hype and hypocrisy on ev­ery side.

If only we had an or­gan­i­sa­tion that could ap­ply the in­sights of the past and the ex­pe­ri­ence of peo­ple who can recog­nise rub­bish when they see it: a set-up that would con­trib­ute bal­anced in­sights in­stead of the half­formed judge­ments of the at­ten­tion-seek­ing jour­nal­ists and cir­cu­la­tion-ob­sessed me­dia own­ers that now dom­i­nate pub­lic dis­course.

It would be about con­text and pro­por­tion, facts and prop­erly based fig­ures; it would con­sult ex­pe­ri­ence and learn lessons from the past. In other words, it would be all that the Bri­tain of 2017 is not.

Here is Agromenes’s imag­ined ex­am­i­na­tion pa­per on cur­rent af­fairs and logic for its MA in so­ci­etal ethics and ap­plied com­mon sense.

His­tory sec­tion 1) Which 19th-cen­tury Prime Min­is­ter do you be­lieve would sur­vive an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his pri­vate life by a cur­rent Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary and why? 2) Os­car Wilde was a great and en­dur­ing drama­tist, but he also—by mod­ern judge­ment— abused un­der-age boys. Does his art ex­cuse his be­hav­iour or would his prison sen­tence be even longer were he pros­e­cuted today? 3) Lord Halifax was a man of ir­re­proach­able moral char­ac­ter. At a time of na­tional emer­gency, how­ever, he was over­looked for an in­vet­er­ate gam­bler ow­ing the equiv­a­lent of £300,000 in tax, who had other debts to­talling more than £1 mil­lion and had burned through £5 mil­lion of in­her­ited money. That man was Sir Win­ston Churchill. With hind­sight, how would you jus­tify the ap­point­ment? In­ap­pro­pri­ate-be­hav­iour sec­tion 1) How would you jus­tify re­fer­ring a min­is­ter for in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Cab­i­net Of­fice for breaches of the Min­is­te­rial Code when the al­leged breaches took place long be­fore he was a min­is­ter? 2) How do you bal­ance the rights of a vic­tim with those of the per­son they ac­cuse of sex­ual im­pro­pri­ety when it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to ver­ify —or judge—the par­tic­u­lars of what hap­pened? 3) What would be suit­able sanc­tions were a chief con­sta­ble to seek to pro­tect him­self and his force by re­fus­ing to ad­mit that he had no real ev­i­dence to jus­tify a case against a dis­tin­guished pub­lic ser­vant and that he had wasted sig­nif­i­cant sums of pub­lic money in pur­su­ing it?

4) It is a given that non­con­sen­sual sex or abus­ing a po­si­tion of power are un­ac­cept­able and par­tic­u­larly rep­re­hen­si­ble in a pub­lic fig­ure. Oth­er­wise, what is­sues in a man or woman’s pri­vate life should be any­one else’s con­cern? Should their pri­vacy be pro­tected? 5) Dis­cuss the moral is­sues raised by a me­dia owner who ar­ranges his af­fairs so that he doesn’t pay tax in the UK, but al­lows his news­pa­pers to pil­lory pub­lic fig­ures who in­vest in le­git­i­mate com­pa­nies through for­eign-based ve­hi­cles while pay­ing full UK tax on any earn­ings.

‘If only we had an or­gan­i­sa­tion that could ap­ply the in­sights of the past

Sim­ply rais­ing these mat­ters and de­mand­ing rig­or­ous in­tel­lec­tual con­sid­er­a­tion of the eth­i­cal is­sues in­volved should be­gin to raise the stan­dards of pub­lic dis­course. It might also mean that de­cent peo­ple could con­sider that a life of pub­lic ser­vice would not ex­pose them and their fam­i­lies to un­war­ranted and wound­ing in­tru­sion from me­dia moguls who are them­selves pro­tected by the prin­ci­ple that dog doesn’t eat dog. If only we had an In­sti­tute for Com­mon Sense.

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