Have you noticed how politicians and football managers (and other senior roles in society) say they made an “error of judgement”, when caught doing something wrong/unethical.  But that phrase “error of judgement” seems to be used to minimise or to try and cover-up that the behaviour  was unethical.

Surely every wrong action is based on a judgement that was wrong. Lets take a practical safety example. If I chose to NOT follow a procedure or if I am too lazy to go and get the right tool for a job and use the wring tool, is that not an erroneous judgement – an “error of judgement”? Of course the error of judgement leads to the wrong act – which may be unsafe or unethical.

“Error of judgement” sounds much better than “I did the wrong thing” or “I behaved unethically“. In a way, using the phrase “error of judgement”, is in itself unethical because it is a deliberate attempt to paint one’s unethical behaviours in a better – not so serious light. In other words, ” what I did was not so bad, it was an error of judgement“.

If  take a bribe/bribe others, cheat on my spouse or crook my expenses, what is the error of judgement? Did I judge that these things are okay? No, most likely there the error of judgement, was in thinking that I would  get away with it.  Isn’t it time journalists do more to expose  this attempt to exuse unethical behaviour?