Monday, January 15, 2018

Murky Morality - Pheobus's Lie

At one point in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Esmeralda slips into a cathedral to avoid being arrested by Frollo. Captain Pheobus followed her inside and started to talk with her, but their conversation was interrupted by Frollo, who had followed Pheobus. Pheobus advised Esmeralda to invoke the right of sanctuary, trying to help her, but she suspected a trap and refused. Regardless, Pheobus lied and told Frollo that Esmeralda had invoked sanctuary, whereupon the Archdeacon had both Frollo and Captain Pheobus escorted out.

I respect Captain Pheobus, and I believed that what he did here was right, but what he said was clearly wasn't. He lied. He broke one of the Ten Commandments by bearing false witness, yet I believe that it was the right thing to do.

Morality is tricky. There are times when one law outweighs another, and doing the right thing in one circumstance might involve doing something that would be wrong in another. Lying is usually wrong, as is killing, stealing, and breaking any number of other commandments, but there may be circumstances under which it is morally right. I think it was good that Pheobus lied to Frollo just then, even though it is normally immoral to lie.

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