Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

FactChecker Ethics: I Know This Is A Bit Late, But If Glenn Kessler Is Going To Give Out “Pinocchios,” He Needs To Learn What a Lie Is

Time to revisit the classics, Glenn...

Time to revisit the classics, Glenn…

Newspaper “fact-checking” is a mostly unethical and misleading exercise in which media partisans use the format to call positions they differ with ideologically and politically “lies.”  PolitiFact is well established as the worst and most biased of these features; Annenberg’s Factcheck.org is easily the best (but still shows its leftward bias), and somewhere in between is Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s “Factchecker.” Today’s installment of his periodic column shows that after many years at his job, he still doesn’t know what a lie is. Amazing.

This is not, or should not be, necessarily for a factchecker, as long as he sticks to checking facts, and not characterizing why the facts don’t jibe with a particular public figure’s public statements. PolitiFact’s specialty is making questionable interpretations of statistics and events, declaring them the revealed truth, and attacking anyone,  usually a Republican, who has come to a different conclusion. To his credit, Kessler doesn’t do that very often. He is typically fair and objective in his research and presentation of facts. But the Post’s Factchecker uses the device of one to four little Pinocchio heads to indicate the seriousness of a factual misstatement, and as he should know, Pinocchio’s nose grew long when he lied. Even one Pinocchio indicates that Kessler believes he has proven that someone lied.

It seems a little late for Kessler to be mistaking opinions that he disagrees with, analyses of facts that reach different conclusions than he would, and obvious mistakes as lies. Kessler, who is should be in the business of checking facts but has chosen a gimmick that makes him conclude by accusing others of lying, is ethically obligated to know what a lie is: an intentional misstatement of fact that is designed and intended to deceive. He either doesn’t know that, which means he’s incompetent, or he does and misrepresents mistakes and opinions as lies, which means that he’s the liar. Whichever it is, this is ethically unacceptable for a “factchecker.” Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Literature, War and the Military

Seven Ethics Observations On The Josh Duggar Child Molestation Revelations

19 kids

Yes, this is an Ethics Train Wreck.

First, some background:

“19 Kids and Counting” is another reality show featuring the exploitation of children for their parents fame and profit broadcast by the  cable channel TLC, the same shameless bunch that bought us “Jon and Kate Plus 8″ and the trashy Honey Boo-Boo Bunch.It began as “17 Kids and Counting,” became “18 Kids and Counting,” and but for this emerging fiasco, might have kept adding numbers, and little unpaid performers,  ad infinitum.  The show featured the godly, conservative, fertile Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their nine girls and ten boys, all of whose names begin with the letter “J.” Since the show began, three of the children have been married and several grandchildren have been born. The series began on September 29, 2008.  February 17, 2015 marked Season 10.

In response to emerging reports that oldest son Dugger son Josh, now 27, was once accused of molesting five underage girls as a teen, Josh Duggar, his wife Anna, and his parents Jim Bob and Michelle jointly explained the circumstances, which had not been revealed outside the family until now. “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends,” Josh said  in a statement. “I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”

Josh then resigned from his position at the Family Research Council.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar had this to say about their son:

“Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes, and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before. Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles every day. It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us – even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey – the good times and the difficult times – cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything.”

TLC cancelled the show. It said, on its Facebook page,

“Effective immediately, TLC has pulled all episodes of 19 Kids and Counting currently from the air. We are deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time”

Then GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee issued his own Facebook statement in support of Josh and the family:

“Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’ He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things. The reason that the law protects disclosure of many actions on the part of a minor is that the society has traditionally understood something that today’s blood-thirsty media does not understand—that being a minor means that one’s judgement is not mature. No one needs to defend Josh’s actions as a teenager, but the fact that he confessed his sins to those he harmed, sought help, and has gone forward to live a responsible and circumspect life as an adult is testament to his family’s authenticity and humility. Those who have enjoyed revealing this long ago sins in order to discredit the Duggar family have actually revealed their own insensitive bloodthirst, for there was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed—not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims. Janet and I love Jim Bob and Michelle and their entire family. They are no more perfect a family than any family, but their Christian witness is not marred in our eyes because following Christ is not a declaration of our perfection, but of HIS perfection. It is precisely because we are all sinners that we need His grace and His forgiveness. We have been blessed to receive God’s love and we would do no less than to extend our love and support for our friends. In fact, it is such times as this, when real friends show up and stand up. Today, Janet and I want to show up and stand up for our friends. Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support.”

Observations: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Religion and Philosophy

And Now, A Rueful Parody: “Hillary, Brady and George”

hillary-brady-george

I’ll let Dion set the mood first…

Now my updated version, in its own way even sadder than the original. (You can sing along, if you like…)

Does anybody here care ’bout influence peddling?
Can you tell me why it’s wrong?
She got a lot of money
And it sure looks like quid pro quo
But Hillary’s prospects stay strong.

***

 Anybody here care ’bout conflicts of interest?
Can you tell me why they’re wrong?
George gave a lot of money,
To Hillary’s foundation
(He’s been a supporter all along.)

***

Anybody here care ’bout lying and cheating?
Do you think that they’re wrong?
The quarterback messed with
The balls that he scored with
And still is cheered by the throng.

 ***

Should we admire the values they stand for?
Won’t their lies corrupt it all for you and me?
And society
Some day soon, if we don’t make them sorry…

***

Everybody here see our old friend Bubba?
(I can’t stop my rising gorge)
As I watch  him walkin,’ and laughin’ at all of us…

With Hillary, Brady and George.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Popular Culture, Sports, U.S. Society

Here’s The Thing, Booking.Com: If You Think Your Customers Appreciate Gratuitous Smuttiness, I Don’t Want To Be One Of Them

Booking_com_Logo The manners of society appear to be heading south at an accelerating rate, with our up and coming generations being increasingly sent the message from the culture, celebrities and even elected officials, that manners and civility in public conduct and speech is for snobs, nerds, dorks, and goons. It’s cool to be vulgar! I admit, I’m in at least two of those three categories, so I really don’t get it. Ethics dictates that one communicates with respect for anyone within hearing distance, and unless ugly words serve a material purpose, using them is not the mark of a good citizen, a good neighbor, or a trustworthy human being. Nor is spouting vulgarity witty, and unless you are 11, and employing obvious code words that sound like curses, epithets and obscenities isn’t especially funny either, since we pretty much exhausted the possibilities at summer camp. I have no idea why anyone would want to recast the culture as a place where professionals curse like sailors and the words “fuck” and “cocksucker” are as likely to issue from a debutante’s lips as those of a hip hop artist, but that seems to be the objective now. President Obama, the Fish Head, signaled his approval by repeatedly using the word “bucket” in a televised event when he obviously meant “fuck it.” First President ever to use fuck on TV! Yes, Obama continues to burnish his legacy. Small wonder that CNN’s John Berman thought his audience wanted to see him snigger over a colleague’s “big stones,” a testicle joke that always has them LOL-ing in the 7th grade. Making sure that there is nowhere for the civil and well-mannered to hide, all the other TV stations happily accept money from advertisers using code words for “ass” (Verizon), alluding to sexual intercourse (Reese’s), and evoking the word “shit” (K-Mart and DraftKings). Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Jumbo, Marketing and Advertising, U.S. Society

When “Oh, Grow Up!”, “That’s Ridiculous” and “You Need Help” Are Appropriate Responses

Oops...I forgot the trigger warning...

Oops…I forgot the trigger warning…

Columbia University’s descent into madness continues.

Columbia University’s student newspaper recently featured four members of the school’s student Multicultural Affairs Advisory Board demanding that professors consider their students’ delicate sensibilites when teaching intense, violent or otherwise provocative material. This will give you a flavor of what the students advocate:

“Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” is a fixture of Lit Hum, but like so many texts in the Western canon, it contains triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom. These texts, wrought with histories and narratives of exclusion and oppression, can be difficult to read and discuss as a survivor, a person of color, or a student from a low-income background…Students need to feel safe in the classroom, and that requires a learning environment that recognizes the multiplicity of their identities. The MAAB has been meeting with administration and faculty in the Center for the Core Curriculum to determine how to create such a space. The Board has recommended three measures: First, we proposed that the center issue a letter to faculty about potential trigger warnings and suggestions for how to support triggered students. Next, we noted that there should be a mechanism for students to communicate their concerns to professors anonymously, as well as a mediation mechanism for students who have identity-based disagreements with professors. Finally, the center should create a training program for all professors, including faculty and graduate instructors, which will enable them to constructively facilitate conversations that embrace all identities, share best practices, and think critically about how the Core Curriculum is framed for their students.”

I take a lot of criticism on the blog for not expressing false respect when someone espouses a position that is cultural cyanide, or, in some cases, just plain stupid. This argument by the Columbia students would qualify. Some affirmatively bad ideas should not be pampered, mollycoddled or treated as if they deserve sustained attention and debate. It just encourages them. Long ago I feared that the multi-culturalism and diversity movements would run amuck, and indeed they have. Being literate,respectful and tolerant, as well as open-minded, toward other cultures is healthy and essentially American. Nevertheless, nations, societies and communities require a consistent culture, as well as the cultural values that a dominant culture contains. Ethics, among other critical features of a healthy society, is impossible without this, and chaos is inevitable. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Education, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, History, Literature, U.S. Society

Unethical Quote Of The Month: William Spencer Reilly, Executive Director of the Sheen Center

This was Bishopr Sheen, after whom the Sheen Center is named. Having spent a lot of time watching and listening to Sheen, I am fairly certain that he would not concur with the Sheen Center's decision. Why? Because, among  other reasons, he was a lot smarter than that.

This was Bishop Sheen, after whom the Sheen Center is named. Having spent a lot of time watching and listening to Sheen, I am fairly certain that he would not concur with the Sheen Center’s decision. Why? Because, among other reasons, he was a lot smarter than that.

“When an artistic project maligns any faith group, that project clearly falls outside of our mission to highlight the good, the true, and the beautiful as they have been expressed throughout the ages.”

William Spencer Reilly, the executive director of Manhattan’s Sheen Center,  in an email announcing that it was cancelling an anti-censorship benefit event at its theater because the organizers refused to allow the Center to change a play’s title and redact the content of some speakers’ remarks.

Yes, a theater found an anti-censorship event unacceptable because it refused to submit to censorship.

Ethics Dunce is too kind for Mr. Reilly, though I suspect he is more likely a traitor to his art and profession because he wants to keep his job. He is, however, a strong candidate for Hypocrite of the Decade. He rents out the Center for a theatrical project to condemn censorship, and then attempts to censor the event.

Cowabunga.

There were two ethical courses open to him: either refuse to rent the space to the event, or rent the space, knowing its purpose, and leave the event alone. What he did instead was ludicrous, and indefensible.”The management of The Sheen Center actually suggested that we alter the title of Neil LaBute’s play, and alter the content of some of our panelist’s speeches,” said the artistic curator of “Playwrights for a Cause.” “Which we find completely out of line with the anti-censorship mission of the benefit.”

Ya think? Yes, I’d say that is res ipsa loquitur. Also indefensible was Reilly’s tortured interpretation of the Sheen Center Mission Statement, which is, admittedly, a pompous mess:

“The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture is a forum to highlight the true, the good, and the beautiful as they have been expressed throughout the ages. Cognizant of our creation in the image and likeness of God, the Sheen Center aspires to present the heights and depths of human expression in thought and culture, featuring humankind as fully alive. At the Sheen Center, we proclaim that life is worth living, especially when we seek to deepen, explore, challenge, and stimulate ourselves, Catholic* and non-Catholic alike, intellectually, artistically, and spiritually.”

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes

Memorial Ethics: Under Armour’s “Disrespect”

Underarmor

The Horror…

Just in time for Memorial Day comes this depressing example of how timid and wan Americans have become when free speech and expression are under attack. This is how acceptance of the Universal Veto of the Officious Offended will reduce the U.S. to a barren, humorless, imagination-free culture dominated by political correctness bullies and exploitive self-anointed, power-seeking “victims.”

Under Armour advertised a “Band of Ballers” tee-shirt showing a silhouette of men in backwards baseball caps raising a basketball hoop in the iconic pose of the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial, in which combat weary soldiers are frozen in the act of raising an American flag after the Marine’s bloody victory at Iwo Jima.

There is nothing remotely wrong with this design. It is not disrespectful It is satire. It is a parody. It is using the status of the image to extol basketball; only a fool could read the image as an effort to denigrate veterans or the American flag. Personally, I think it’s clever, just as I like Charles Addams’ cartoon showing butchers wrestling with sausages in the pose of the famous statue of Laocoon and his sons being devoured by serpents…

Addams Cartoon

…or parodies of Washington crossing the Delaware, like this ad for HBO’s “Veep”… Continue reading

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