Assistant professor of philosophy Sasha Mudd wrote an op-ed in The New York Times Oct. 10 that presented, “The other day, my 7-year-old, having gotten wind of President Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis, asked me point blank, ‘Mommy, are you glad that Trump got the coronavirus?’”
“Here’s how I explained the moral quandary to my 7-year-old: I am sad that Mr. Trump got sick because in general suffering is bad, and I don’t want anyone to suffer, but on the other hand I think he should suffer consequences for the harm he has done,” Mudd wrote. “This answer seemed satisfying enough at the time, but it left out an important distinction. What I did not try to explain is that the punishment that Mr. Trump’s bout of Covid-19 represents is merely symbolic, a stand-in for the real punishment he deserves, which is necessarily social in character. Mr. Trump deserves to be punished at the ballot box and to be held accountable for any possible criminal wrongdoing in a court of law.”
The reader responses ranged in everything from, “I must admit that the irony that he may well lose the election because he refused to take Covid-19 seriously gives pleasure to some of us,” to “I have worked with many people who police their thoughts and are severely inhibited by the repression it requires.”
Many of us have wished the Russian-compromised illegitimate president with the slimy anti-everything rhetoric that has embedded it’s evil and hatred into our society – and democracy – ill. As Donald J. Trump continues to slide his gaslighting antics on his White supremacist followers for the nth time, America is beginning to wake up to a new dawn. Still, does thinking bad thoughts about the president cause you to be a horrible human being? And is it even worth admitting these thoughts to others?
“I think Sasha Mudd overlooks a basic point,” wrote William James Earle. “Wishing harm, feeling glee at another’s suffering and even hoping that someone will die are all causally inert. They don’t in themselves hurt anyone. What morality strictly forbids is taking the smallest step, the least action, to hurt another, cause suffering or bring about death. We have to worry about what we do, not what we feel.”