The South Gate
Over the past year, there have been several discussions about "moral turpitude" in the Lodge. Each of these discussions have raised good points but no clear cut answers. From the "Transactions Texas Lodge of Research" volume XLVII is an article that best describes what constitutes "moral turpitude.” The article, "The Categorical Approach To Misdemeanors Involving Moral Turpitude: A Guide of Question 16 of Form 26" was written by Christopher D. Livingston, Past Master, Richardson Lodge No. 1214.
A definition from the Fifth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals which has jurisdiction over Texas provides:
Moral turpitude refers generally to conduct that shocks the public conscience as being inherently base, vile, or depraved, and contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society in general."
It goes on to say, "among the tests to determine if a crime involves moral turpitude is whether the act is accompanied by a vicious motive or a corrupt mind."
Brother Livingston writes, "Nonetheless, it appears that "moral turpitude" connotes something more than mere illegality or criminality; otherwise all crimes would fall within
The article goes on to examine how judges and the courts wrestle with analysis in determining whether a criminal statute involves moral turpitude. Even the courts, relying on judicial precedent are unable to agree what constitutes a crime involving moral turpitude.
So how does this information affect our Lodge? Question 16 asks "Have you ever been charged with a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude?" How should we consider the answer when even the courts cannot agree? Brother Livingston goes on to write, "Again, crimes involving moral turpitude require both (1) an illegal act; and (2) a "vicious motive" or "corrupt mind" on the part of the criminal actor."....."It is important to note that negligence based crimes do not amount to crimes involving moral turpitude."
This confirms my belief that the job of serving on an investigating committee is a serious duty that requires due diligence, good notes on the investigative report, a thorough report to the Lodge prior to the vote, and deciding whether a petitioner is worthy of being taken by the hand as a brother.
George Hahn , Junior Warden
The Guiding Light / Dec. 2013 11