Painter Nelson Shanks, Art Fick

Shanks. (The photographer hid a tiny image of an asshole in the photo, Nelson. He knew you'd approve.)

Shanks. (The photographer hid a tiny image of an asshole in the photo, Nelson. He knew you’d approve.)

A “fick” is an individual isn’t just unethical, shamelessly unethical, or openly unethical. Fick is the Ethics Alarms term, created in honor of the horrible Leroy Fick, who is proudly and cheerfully unethical. Fick sightings are mercifully rare, but we have a true giant of the species: Philadelphia portrait artist Nelson Shanks. Shanks, who was the artist commissioned by the Clintons to paint the portrait of Bill that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, just gave an interview to the Philadelphia Inquirer, and without a gun pointed to he head, told them this:

“Clinton was hard. I’ll tell you why. The reality is he’s probably the most famous liar of all time. He and his administration did some very good things, of course, but I could never get this Monica thing completely out of my mind and it is subtly incorporated in the painting.

If you look at the left-hand side of it there’s a mantle in the Oval Office and I put a shadow coming into the painting and it does two things. It actually literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that I had on a mannequin, that I had there while I was painting it, but not when he was there. It is also a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him.”

Fick.

Bill Clinton chose Shanks for this prestigious task, paid him, patronized him, posed for him, and trusted him. And Shanks not only does this trick with the dress shadow, which is bad (making a disguised uncomplimentary reference to a career scandal in an official portrait is a betrayal of the subject whether it is discovered or not —See Rationalization #10, The Unethical Tree in the Forest, or “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.” ), but then makes his conduct public, instantly transforming the portrait from an honor into an indictment. He was not hired to paint an indictment.

Fick

He is using this now to his own advantage, gaining fame and name recognition, possibly enhancing the value of his work, definitely increasing interest in the painting itself. He knows there will be TV interviews and controversy; he knows enemies and critics of the Clintons, Republicans, and many of those–like me— who find Bill Clinton’s continued currency among Democrats, women and feminists infuriating will applaud him, defend him, and even reward him in various ways.

Fick.

He knows what he did was wrong, and knows announcing it is wrong. He’s still pleased with himself.

Fick.

________________________

Pointer: Tim Maher

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History

Case Study In Unethical Journalism And The Unethical Editors Who Spawn It: Jezebel and Editor Natasha V C

Natasha. Jezebel must be so proud.

Natasha. Jezebel must be so proud.

It is obvious that the mainstream media is determined to shoot down Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker by any means possible, because Democrats a) hate him to pieces and b) fear him. The primaries aren’t even underway, and they are already outing their own bias with over-heated criticism of his refusing to be drawn into gotcha questions about evolution and President Obama’s religion (to which he gave essentially the same answer as Hillary Clinton did in 2008: he has no way of knowing for sure), dropping subversive reminders that he never got a college degree, and already are breaching Journalism Ethics 101 principles by running bogus accusations without checking the facts. This will continue—it worked with Sarah Palin and Romney, after all—until the American public figures out what’s going on. I’ll try to help the best I can.

New York Times star columnist Gail Collins, who detests Walker with a passion that apparently obliterates all professional ethics, wrote two weeks ago that Walker was responsible for Wisconsin’s 2010 cuts to education, resulting in teacher layoffs. Walker didn’t take office until 2011. The Times retracted—six days later!—but you know how it works, and so does the Times: a fraction of the readers who read the mistake—this was a reckless, biased, embarrassing mistake—see the correction. The Times is better than Fox News…barely. Collins and her editor should have been disciplined.

Then  the progressive feminist website Jezebel printed this:

“Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget—which would cut $300 million dollars out of the state’s beloved public university system—has a non-fiscal bombshell tucked in between its insane pages.Under Walker’s budget, universities would no longer have to report the number of sexual assaults that take place on a campus to the Department of Justice. Under Walker’s plan, university employees who witness a sexual assault would no longer have to report it.There are no policy recommendations in Walker’s budget how or what would replace these reporting mechanisms. The Governor simply instructs that they should be deleted.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the bewildering force that is Scott Walker, know this: he is a small-time guy who is having a big-time moment by playing the conservative werewolf, a role Chris Christie and Jeb Bush are so far unwilling to play in their presidential bids.”

[Translation: “Small time” means “no college degree.” Ad hominem, naturally.]

The Daily Beast, which bleeds blue and has its own stable of wildly left-slanting commentators, uncritically picked up the story, as did many others. They kept it around, too, well after this was revealed: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, The Internet

SNL’s ISIS Recruitment Commercial

There is supposedly a big social media controversy over this gag SNL ad, starring Dakota Johnson, that simultaneously parodied an Army recruitment promo and satirized the disturbing trend of brainless teens running off to join that terrorist organization that has nothing to do with Islam.

It’s not a controversy when one side is ignorant, censorious, politically correctness- addled, humorless and wrong and the other side isn’t.

The ad is brilliant black comedy and satire, one of SNL’s all-time best. Those who object to it don’t get black humor and satire, which makes their objections as irrelevant as someone allergic to shellfish saying that Legal Seafoods stinks. Nobody’s making them eat there, and they don’t have to watch Saturday Night Live or think it’s funny either. But I don’t care about their opinion, which is uninformed and useless to anyone who understands and appreciates the issues.

Here’s what was good and funny—and ethical– about the parody:

1. It caught the saccharine tone of its model exactly.

2. Its ending was a surprise.

3. It ridiculed ISIS, which deserves ridicule. President Obama claims that the way to withhold respect for the group is to lie about it being a group of Islamic extremists. This is much better, ethical, and doesn’t mislead anyone.

4. Making fun of evil is a time-honored activity, healthy, useful, and effective. I don’t recall anyone saying that Spike Jones was treading on sacred ground with this song:

or that The Three Stooges were trivializing the death camps with this…

5. The satire even cuts two ways. You know, that sweet young girl is also being sent off to kill people when she’s joining the military in the real ad. Like all great satire, this one is subversive and layered. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Humor and Satire, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, Religion and Philosophy, War and the Military

Downton Abbey Ethics: Evil Barrow’s Ethics Lesson

Downton-abbey-season-5

If some of your PBS watching friends are unclear on those essential ethics analysis tools, the concepts of moral luck and consequentialism, the season finale of “Downton Abbey”( which you can view here) provided a wonderful example of both in action.

Now, settle down, because this takes some table-setting: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Etiquette and manners, Family, Popular Culture

Time For Ethical People To Boycott Fox News

No-Fox

Brian Stelter, CNN’s media critic, just played a newly-uncovered tape of the phone call to then-reporter Bill O’Reilly telling him that a shadowy figure in the JFK assassination had committed suicide. This was the same gentleman that O’Reilly, in his best selling “history” book, “Killing Kennedy,” claims shot himself with a shotgun while O’Reilly was just outside his door.

Documentation of O’Reilly lies are proliferating like Republican Presidential hopefuls, and the Fox News Head Bloviator continues to respond with bluster, ad hominem attacks and threats. In doing so, he refuses to abide by the standards he articulated—correctly—explaining why NBC’s fabulist anchor Brian Williams could no longer be trusted by viewers.

Meanwhile, Fox News has disqualified itself as a news source even for those who (completely justifiably) distrust the left-biased mainstream media. At least NBC had the integrity and professionalism to (eventually) investigate Williams’ conduct and take him off the air. Fox, in stark contrast, has issued deceitful defenses of their most profitable commentator, and continues to back, promote, and air a proven liar. (We already knew Bill was a bully, a jerk, and a narcissist.) Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, History, Journalism & Media, Professions

March 1 Is “Remember What Drugs Cost Society Day”

Belushi

The District of Columbia is poised to completely legalize pot, which will be the most ringing of government endorsements of  societally destructive personal conduct, in a malfunctioning culture that should not be placed at further risk. This overwhelmingly black, poor, educationally-challenged and struggling population needs competent, trustworthy leadership and an injection of values.  It is a community, after all, that idolized the late Marion Barry, a mayor who smoked crack on the job, and never apologized for it. It’s not surprising that the adults in the District would tell the young African-Americans that it’s cool to spend their your money to get stupid, to avoid clear thought rather than practice it.

Every March 1, I watch this old clip (below) from Saturday Night Live  (it’s not on YouTube, so I can only link to it) , featuring the great, and thanks to recreational drugs, late John Belushi. It unfailingly makes me laugh out loud. It also makes me furious that a talent like this gave himself so little time to entertain us, because he killed himself with an insatiable appetite for illegal drugs.

For me, March 1 is “Remember What Drugs Cost Society Day.” Those arguing for our government placing a societal  seal of approval on these costs have yet to persuade me that it is ethical, wise or even sane to not just accept them, but to multiply them by a number unknown.

Here’s John Belushi (1949-1982), enlightening us about March around the world.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Humor and Satire, Law & Law Enforcement

Remembering Another False “Memory”: The Rosenblats, Oprah, and the Holocaust Love Story

Herman and Roma

Herman and Roma

Somehow I missed this story, because if I had noticed it, I know I would have written about it. Maybe you missed it too.

Herman Rosenblat died on Feb. 5, and his death was noted in several publications, not for his life, which included surviving the Holocaust, but because of a charming story he told that turned out to false. He had written in a memoir about a mysterious young girl on the other side of the barbed wire fence who help kept him alive as a starving teenage inmate at Buchenwald. As recounted in another book:

“He saw her pull something from her pocket. An apple? She squinted, gauging the distance between them, swung her arm in a few practice throws, then hurled the apple with a force that surprised him. The fruit flew across most of the distance between them before it dropped to the ground, rolled under the fence and landed just inches beyond the wire on Herman’s side.”

Day after day, the same mysterious “angel,” as he thought of her, risked her life by throwing apples to him over the fence.

Twelve years after the war, he had a blind date in Coney Island. His date told him about her experiences in Europe during the war, and how she wondered what had become of a young boy she remembered throwing apples to in a German death camp.  Stunned, Herman said that he asked, “Did he wear rags on his feet instead of shoes?”  When she answered that he did, Herman exclaimed, ‘That boy was me!” They were married, and it was a loving union that lasted 56 years. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, History, Love, Romance and Relationships