Category Archives: Animals

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Rep. Alvin Holmes (D-Alabama)

Alvin-HolmesRep. Alvin Holmes is a hatemonger and a race-baiter, but is he a wacko?

This question was inspired in the aftermath to my post about the ridiculous Bob Marshall,  a Virginia legislator who blights the Republican Party in my home state. The question I raised in that post was whether it was true that GOP elected nut-cases are further out in orbit than their Democratic counterparts. The related theory offered (not be me) in the ensuing thread was that while liberal-slanted media sources criticize the deranged in their ideological camp, conservative media sources tend to defend the GOP’s mutants. In fairness, I thought that I should raise the case of Mr. Holmes.

He was recently featured in a column by the Washington Post’s mildly conservative—perhaps the better term is “wishy-washy”—columnist Kathleen Parker. She notes, accurately, that he has at various times… Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Race

Unethical Website of the Month: “I Love Dogs”

This isn't the puppy in the post, but I've been looking for an excuse use this photo...

This isn’t the puppy in the post, but I’ve been looking for an excuse use this photo…

I love dogs too, but encouraging people to beat alleged animal abusers to the verge of death just doesn’t seem right to me. I’m funny that way.

Indeed, I wonder about the values and mental stability of those who think this is a rational and ethical response to the perpetrator of any kind of crime, not just animal abuse.

“I Love Dogs” has sent into the web a virtual “Wanted Poster” with a photo of a real human being, ostensibly a canine abuser who “nearly beat this pup”—also pictured—”to death.” The poster suggests that readers should share the poster if they “believe that he deserves the same.”

Sure enough, many do. The post has gleaned many thousands of likes, about 5000 shares, and a wave of comments like those that follow here. I’ve included the names of the posters, who obviously didn’t think their comments were anything to be ashamed of. I wish I could include the thousands more like them, but there is too much anonymity in crowds. Posting the commenters’ names that appear below is a public service. I suggest avoiding them. Also proofreading their work, as they all appear to have dropped out of the third grade…

Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Character, Law & Law Enforcement, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Websites

Donald Rumsfeld And The Irony Of Hair-Trigger Race-baiters

chimp-jackLook around the web, and you will find some vituperative leftist bloggers and tweeters condemning Donald Rumsfeld as a racist, based on his criticism of Barack Obama. True, any criticism of Barack Obama is presumptively racist—did anyone predict that an unintended consequence of the first black President would be de facto suppression of legitimate political criticism?—-but Rumsfeld, we are told, really proved he’s just like all conservatives, Republicans and teapartiers because he recently said, criticizing the Obama administration’s eminently criticizable  policies in Afghanistan:

“A trained ape could get a status of forces agreement. It does not take a genius. And we have so mismanaged that relationship.”

GOTCHA! Comparing a black President to an ape! Proof positive of racial bigotry!

Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Character, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Race

Incompetent Elected Officials Of The Month: Chicago City Council

Rugby, my pure Jack Russell Terrier (though "pure" is an oxymoron with Jacks)

Rugby, my pure Jack Russell Terrier (though “pure” is an oxymoron with Jacks)

Laws affect our lives too much to be concocted by dolts. If elected officials are going to restrict our freedom, they have an obligation to do so only with good cause, careful consideration, precision, and after making certain that unintended consequences will be minimal.

On the other hand, elected official could just say “What the hell, let’s see how this turns out,” and be like the Chicago City Council, which passed an ordinance banning the sale of pure breed dogs.

This is as nice an example of good intentions gone stupid as we are ever likely to see. The intent is to cut off the supply of dogs from s0-called puppy mills, which are rightly regarded as too often cruel and irresponsible. However, in pursuit of that elusive goal, the city council didn’t bother to craft a law that addressed the problem effectively, or that even made sense.

Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Unethical Website of the Month: “Smosh” OR “Let’s Give A Big Hand To The Hilarious Comedy of Will Weldon!”

Blurry face boy

In a twist, this Unethical Website found me. Smosh’s despicable montage titled by the ethically clueless creep who concocted it, Will Weldon, “19 Funniest Examples of Kid Shaming” includes, among its hilarious examples, the photo above from an Ethics Alarms essay I posted about a year ago, with a link back here. Weldon appears to have stolen his post idea from an earlier version of it on the website Heavy, this by an equally warped wag named Elizabeth Furey. Heavy would have been an “Unethical Website of the Month” if I had known about its post last May, and everything I write about  Smosh applies to Heavey, just as everything I write about Will applies to Elizabeth.

In the linked Ethics Alarms post, I specifically condemned the practice of  parents forcing children to hold up a sign “confessing” some transgression, taking a photo of him or her*, and posting it on the web.  I wrote:

“I think any aspect of a punishment that outlives the effects of the offense and a continues to do harm long after the original wrongdoer has reformed is unfair, abusive and cruel. If, as seems to be the case, the boy’s parents added to his punishment of having to return his Play Station 3 by first photographing the kid holding a sign describing his transgression, and then memorializing his humiliation by posting it on the internet, they took the lesson into unethical territory. Punishing their child for his spoiled and ungracious behavior by taking away a cherished gift is a legitimate exercise of parental authority, if a bit excessive for my tastes, especially at Christmastime. Turning him into the web poster child for ungrateful and spoiled children everywhere is, I believe, an abuse of that authority.”

I was feeling uncharacteristically equivocal that day, it seems, infused as I was still by the holiday spirit. Let me be more assertive now.  Dog-shaming using this device is a “thing’ on the web now, and such photos can be funny. Needess to say…or rather, it should be needless to say, but apparently I need to say it for people like Will and Elizabeth…children are not dogs. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Family, Humor and Satire, The Internet, Unethical Websites

Signature Significance: The Sick Little Girl’s Stolen Puppy

pug-puppy

If you ever want to explain the concept of signature significance in ethics—how one act can be sufficient evidence to make a fair and valid judgment about someone’s character—to a friend or colleague, this story should do the trick.

In California, a kind woman named Shawna Hamon heard about a 7-year-old girl with leukemia whose Christmas wish was for Santa to bring her a pug puppy. So Hamon bought a pug puppy, and gave it to a friend who promised to deliver the little dog to the girl in Sacramento in time for the holidays.

The puppy never arrived, however.  The friend decided to keep it for herself. Hamon sent an animal delivery service and an attorney to the woman’s Los Angeles home, but the woman refused to give the dog back. Then Hamon  filed a theft complaint and police got a search warrant to search the home, but found no pug puppy. After searching some other nearby homes, they eventually found the little dog at a neighbor’s  house, where the pug-napper had hidden it.

Hamon now has the dog back, and learned her lesson. She will deliver it herself this time, a bit late, to the sick little girl. The child is currently receiving experimental treatment for leukemia in Philadelphia.

Now, what are the chances that the woman who took the dog, a desperately sick child’s Christmas gift, for herself, and foiled the compassionate act of a friend in the process, was just having a bad day, just made one mistake, really is a fine, upstanding, trustworthy individual and can’t be judged conclusively as an unethical cur (no offense, puppy…) based on this one incident, because a single episode has no statistical and predictive significance?

None.

____________________________

Pointer: Fark

Facts and graphic: NBC

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Filed under Animals, Character, Law & Law Enforcement

Fun With Rationalizations: Considering Salon’s Attack On The New York Post

post_cover-620x412

Let me dispense with the outrage over The New York Post’s brilliant (from their perspective, which is selling newspapers) and tasteless front page covering the death of Menachem Stark, a Hasidic real estate developer ( a.k.a. “slumlord”) who was found murdered and burned in a dumpster last Friday in Long Island.

The operative principle is not, as the reader who flagged the issue suggested, the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule does not often apply to the press, which is supposed to be truthful, not kind and diplomatic. There are provisions of most journalistic codes about avoiding unnecessary harm to third parties, which is pretty much a universal ethics rule in every field, from law to the military. When, however, you operate a tabloid, and not just any tabloid but a tabloid whose brand is defined by intentionally shocking, outrageous, assaultive and controversial headlines and photos, “Unnecessary harm to third parties” is almost an impossible principle to apply.

The headline is a perfect example of the Julie Principle, which I explained back in May. The Julie Principle comes into play when an undesirable or annoying  characteristic or behavior pattern in a person or organization appears to be hard-wired and part of their essence.  In judging such a person or entity, it is useful to keep the lyrics of Julie’s song from “Show Boat” (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein Jr., music by Jerome Kern) firmly in mind, when she sings…

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly…

I’ve gotta love that man til I die

Can’t help lovin’ that man of mine!  Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Etiquette and manners, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising

The White House Scores A 2013 Jumbo Jumbo

There's no elephant. Do you see an elephant?

There’s no elephant. Do you see an elephant?

Just in time to make the 2013 cut-off, the White House achieved the Jumbo of the year, and simultaneously made me wonder if I am going to have to jettison all respect for my loyal Obama-supporting friends.

The Jumbo is an Ethics Alarms category lunched in 2013, designed to recognize individuals who engage in spectacular examples of unethical conduct I have always detested with a special passion: trying to wiggle out of a tight spot by stubbornly insisting that what is obviously the case isn’t really, a brazen exercise resting on the presumption that everyone else is either a dimwit or as corrupt as the speaker. The name derives from an iconic moment in Billy Rose’s 1936 Broadway musical extravaganza “Jumbo,” named after P.T. Barnum’s famous giant elephant, that starred Jimmy Durante. Caught red-handed as he tried to sneak his dying bankrupt circus’s major asset off the premises and away from creditors, the “Old Shnozzola” was confronted with a sheriff who belligerently inquired, “Just where do you think you’re going with that elephant?” Jimmy’s response, acting for all the world as if the massive pachyderm at the end of the rope he was holding didn’t exist: “Elephant? What elephant?” Another apocryphal equivalent is the old burlesque joke about the philandering husband caught by his wife as he frolics in their bed with a naked and luscious bimbo. The rake still denies anything untoward is going on, pleading, “Who are you going to believe, me, or your own eyes?” . In real life, the gold standard might be actress Lindsay Lohan’s insistence to police, when she was arrested for reckless driving and cocaine was found in her pocket, that she was wearing someone else’s pants.

The White House’s entry into the Jumbo Hall of Fame is pretty impressive, though. As figures showed that a million Americans had registered for Obamacare in December, bringing the total number to 2.1 million, well short of the 3 million goal, White House White House health care adviser Phil Schiliro told MSNBC yesterday that the frequently stated Administration goal of  7 million enrolled by the end of March, when the individual mandate (penalty, according to Democrats; tax, according to the U.S. Supreme Court) kicks in, was not really the goal after all. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Arts & Entertainment, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Leadership, U.S. Society

Maybe I’m Losing My Mind, But I Think Geico’s “Maxwell The Pig” Ads Are Racist

Well, not racist, exactly, since there is no such human race (yet) as “Pig Men.” If there were such a race, however, there is no question that Geico’s humorous ads would be regarded as racist and offensive. And in Geico Universe, where Maxwell the Talking Pig resides, there is such a race. Therefore the ads are racist. Right? No?

Hear me out.

This has been bothering me for a while, and I don’t think I am imagining it. If we had, living among us, anthropomorphic swine like Maxwell (first discovered being driven home by a friend’s mother and yelling “Wee wee wee!” all the way), would making not so subtle, demeaning pig references (“when pigs fly” in one commercial, “pig in a blanket” in another) be considered acceptable or civil? Clearly not. Obviously Maxwell is a minority, and obviously sensitive about being a pig. Using “when pigs fly” around him is like intentionally inviting an obese friend to “chew the fat,” or accusing a Native American of being an “Indian giver.” Maxwell gets the intent of the insult in both ads, too: “I can’t believe she said that,” he says after one swine-slur, and “I walked right into that one,” after another.

Geico laid the foundation for Maxwell to be a “harmless” stand-in for harassed minorities that the commercials couldn’t mock without serious consequences in an earlier ad, where his car is stopped by a policeman. The cop asks, “Do you know why I stopped you?” Maxwell suggests profiling. “Because I’m a pig driving a convertible?” Yes, it’s strange. The more I think about it, the stranger and more subversive it seems…

This is ridiculous, I know, but also, I think, sinister. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Etiquette and manners, Humor and Satire, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, Race, U.S. Society

The Obligation To Know Something About What You Are Writing About

Believe it or not, this isn't the most ridiculous feature of the Slate essay it comes from.

Believe it or not, this isn’t the most ridiculous feature of the Slate essay it comes from.

I am constantly being reminded of an old Bob and Ray skit (no, I can’t find it online) they did on late night TV where Bob played an interviewer of a longshoreman (Ray) who had just published a thousand page history of the U.S. that was riddled with errors. “Here, for example,” the increasingly perplexed interviewer sputtered, “you say that Abraham Lincoln was born in 1943 in Bailey’s Mistake, Maine!” Because the internet permits anyone to publish authoritative-sounding nonsense and lies without penalty, that skit seems less and less absurd with each passing day.

Even the content of supposedly legitimate, respected on-line sources cannot be relied upon , because 1) the job of “editor” appears to be obsolete, and 2) if there is an editor, he may be an ignoramus too. For example, a day after after the World Health Organization released a stunning report announcing that citizens of Greece were intentionally giving themselves AIDS so they could get health benefits, it retracted the statement, saying, through  a spokesman, “There is no evidence of people in Greece or anywhere else in Europe deliberately infecting themselves.” What happened? It was an editing error. Oh, well then… wait, what? And nobody other than the editor read the ridiculous release before falsely accusing an entire country of breeding idiots?

This brings us to this “correction” that appeared yesterday on Slate….you know, that sophisticated, erudite, eclectic online cultural  commentary magazine:

“Correction, Dec. 10, 2013: This article originally misidentified penguins as mammals. They are birds.” Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Health and Medicine, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Professions, The Internet