Category Archives: Character

Watch “Blue Bloods”

Blue Bloods

I owe Tom Selleck an apology. The long-time genial hunk, famous as “Magnum, P.I.” and notable in show business lore for missing the career opportunity of a lifetime when contractual obligations forced him to turn down the role of Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” has guided his CBS police series “Blue Bloods” to five seasons, exploring tough ethics dilemmas in virtually every episode, and usually doing it very well. For some reason, I’ve only cited the show a few times, once critically, and it deserves better. Netflix started streaming the show, and my wife has been watching about three a day. I really hadn’t been paying sufficient attention, or respect. It’s a wonderful ethics show, the best since “Star Trek, the Next Generation’s” hay day, and one of the very best ethics TV shows of all time.

Selleck plays fictional New York City police chief Frank Reagan. The show could be called “The Conflicts of Interest Family, ” because law enforcement is the family business, and Selleck’s large brood includes two sons, one a patrolman and the other a detective, under his command, and a daughter who is an assistant district attorney. Reagan delicately balances the jobs a father, mediator and boss, all while being given back-seat advice from his father, who is retired but was also a NYC police chief.

I have found myself thinking about how Selleck’s character would react to the Ferguson ethics train wreck. Police shootings have been frequent topics of episodes, as have political efforts to demonize police. Frank was a fan of New York’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy, and accusations of profiling do not reduce him to a mass of apologetic jelly. Meanwhile, he has forged a working relationship or trust with the City’s black mayor, whose loyalties to the black community, and more than a few dubious civil rights headline-seekers.

Selleck is a credentialed, if low-key, Hollywood conservative, and his show’s demographics are just short of Social Security territory.  It’s too bad: teachers should assign the show and discuss the episodes in class. The episode I wrote about earlier was an entire ethics course on its own, but hardly unique in the series: What should an undercover cop do when a child is imperiled in a burning building, and he is the only one who can get to the kid in time? If his photo is taken by the media that arrive on the scene, not only is his cover blown, but his life and family may be in danger. He hands off the child to his partner, who is the on photographed and becomes a hero. The city is clamoring for the Chief to decorate him as a hero. Naturally, the real rescuer is a Reagan.  Should the partner be willing to live a lie? Should the Chief deceive the public and preside over a fake ceremony to preserve an undercover operation that might bust the mob?  This was a memorable “Bluebloods” episode. but many reach this level of ethics complexity, and the duds are far and few between. This season the show has explored many ethics problems that have been debated in the news, such as campus rape, police body cameras, the “blue line,” news media bias, and others.

I apologize, Mr. Selleck. I have neglected your excellent efforts to present ethical dilemmas in law enforcement, leadership and parenting to the public in an intelligent, balanced, courageous and entertaining manner. Great job, on a great show. Please keep it up. I promise to pay closer attention.

 

 

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Attorney General Eric Holder

“While the grand jury proceeding in St. Louis County has concluded, the Justice Department’s investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown remains ongoing.  Though we have shared information with local prosecutors during the course of our investigation, the federal inquiry has been independent of the local one from the start, and remains so now.  Even at this mature stage of the investigation, we have avoided prejudging any of the evidence.  And although federal civil rights law imposes a high legal bar in these types of cases, we have resisted forming premature conclusions.”

—-Attorney General Eric Holder’s official statement following the announcement that the grand jury would not be handing down an indictment against Michale Brown’s shooter, Officer Wilson.

Sure, why change now?

Sure, why change now?

Why is this statement so unethical? There are three reasons.

1. The positioning of this statement, at the very beginning of the whole release, suggests and is meant to suggest that Holder and the Justice Department are in sympathy with those who believe that Wilson should be prosecuted. It translates into “Don’t despair! There is still hope! Your black Attorney General is doing all he can to get this racist cop and avenge Mike Brown!” for many who read or heard it, and that was the intent.

2. This is misrepresentation, essentially a lie, designed to mislead. No legal experts believe that there is any chance that the Justice Department will find probable cause to make a civil rights case against Wilson, and Holder is too good a lawyer—or once was—not to know that.  The bar is too high, and the evidence isn’t there, just as it wasn’t there in the equally futile civil rights investigation against George Zimmerman. Most, if not all, of those determined to see Wilson punished don’t comprehend what the investigation of the shooting by Justice signifies, and think it is just a separate chance to get him on trial for murder. Holder, again intentionally, did nothing to enlighten them.

3. To the extent that anyone does believe that the Justice investigation holds out hope of an indictment against Wilson, Holder is setting Brown’s supporters up for a second disappointment, and conceivably setting up Ferguson and the nation for a second round of rioting when the inevitable bad news comes down. Good plan.

What an ethics disaster and a national disgrace Eric Holder has been as Attorney General. And he is clearly determined to be both until the day he walks out of Justice for good….and I do mean “for good.

 

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Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Ethics Dunces, Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck Files, “Seriously Confused” Division: The Looters of Ferguson Market and Liquor

Ferguson Market

Ferguson Market and Liquor was looted last night, targeted by protesters demanding “justice” for Michael Brown.

I’d like someone to explain the logic of that act to me, please.  Please. That was the store where Michael Brown was captured on video shoplifting and assaulting a clerk prior to his fatal encounter with Officer Wilson.

How dare that store be robbed by an unarmed teen! No, that doesn’t work. How dare an employee be assaulted by a shooting victim! Hmmm…no, no, that’s stupid. How dare the business allow the media to mention its name in connection with the examination of whether Mike Brown was just a gentle giant who wouldn’t hurt a fly or intimidate a clerk!  That can’t be it, can it? Or is it, “Let’s honor Mike by really hurting that small business where he stole some blunts  and shoved that  little clerk!” Really?

What exactly is the theory of justice here? My mind is open, it really is. I so want to understand.

Absent a persuasive explanation, however, I must conclude that anyone who sees “justice” in punishing Michael Brown’s innocent victims, however the teen met his demise, no more understands the concept of justice than I understand string theory, and I have no interest at all in listening to such an individual’s theories, protests, or rants about a subject about which that they are not only embarrassingly ignorant, but deluded as well.

What they did is injustice. They don’t know the difference between injustice and justice, which tells me that neither they nor anyone allied with them, supporting them or sympathetic with them should be taken seriously or heeded.

And when we are told, “The police are biased against people who think looting a store is justice!,” I am compelled to answer,

“As well they should be.”

 

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

The Bill Cosby Follies: Idiotic Blog Post, Atrocious Apology, Lame Justification…Thanks, “TheWrap,” For This Lesson In First Amendment Abuse

thewrap-logo

TheWrap is a web Hollywood news and gossip site. Picture TMZ crossed with Gawker.  It published an immediate candidate for the most unethical blog post of the year, always a closely contested category, a piece of cyber-offal by an industry writer named Rich Stellar that issued a combined attack on the women coming forward to prove Bill Cosby is a serial rapist, and the media’s coverage of it. I was happily unaware of Stellar, barely aware of The Wrap and definitely unaware of this utter crap until it was flagged in a Salon piece, which was in turn flagged by one of my indispensable scouts, Fred. What unfolded before me was a horrible spectacle of a despicably and dumber than a box of rocks opinion piece that no competent editor should allow to avoid the trash, a subsequent apology of sorts from the writer that shows such an ethics deficit that he should probably have a 24-hour keeper, and, finally, his editor’s defense of her wretched editorial judgment based on the theory of the First Amendment, which she appears to think means “You have to publish any garbage any fool writes no matter how poorly conceived or reasoned, or you are unAmerican.”  But I am getting ahead of myself.

The Blog Post.

Read it all if you dare. Here’s Stellar’s money quote, which distills most of the cretinism without forcing you into Hell: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Jumbo, Popular Culture, Professions, The Internet, Unethical Blog Post

Ethics Dunce: Ashlea Johnson And The Supporters Of Her Petition

Crack Mayor

How wrong is the Change.org petition posted by Ashlea Johnson and demanding that TMZ remove and apologize for the above headline announcing the death of Marion Barry?

1. This is an attempt to whitewashing a very soiled legacy.

2. Barry, and no one else, ruined his legacy. Next to using crack while Mayor of Washington D.C. (and being filmed in the process), Barry is best known for his immortal quote after his arrest with an old girl-friend and drug pal: “Bitch set me up!”

3. TMZ has both the freedom to publish whatever it chooses however it chooses, as long as it is true. This is true. Barry was “the Crack Mayor.” Deal with it.

4. It would have been good for all if Barry’s enablers and supporters forced him to apologize and be accountable for his various crimes, hustles and misdeeds, of which the crack was only the most spectacular. Instead, Ashlea Johnson and those like her kept electing Barry, who was unrepentant and unreformed, to office,  sending the message to District politicians that character and honesty, even good citizenship, don’t matter as much as group identification and cronyism

The TMZ headline was certainly not kind, polite or diplomatic, but rogues, miscreants and thieves do not deserve pleasant or respectful obituaries. When Bernie Madoff dies, he will be called a swindler, because he was one. When Anthony Weiner passes on, he will be noted as the “sexting Congressman,” because that was his legacy. Monica Lewinsky will be eulogized in the press as Clinton’s intern plaything, or something nastier: what else should she be remembered for? Marion Barry could have earned a headline describing him as a transformative mayor of the nation’s Capital, for he had the ability to be that and more. Barry chose to be the Crack Mayor instead.

Ashlea should have sent him a petition about forty years ago, demanding that he stop being such a jerk.

________________

Pointer: Mediaite

 

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Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, The Internet

Uber Ethics: Emil Michael Has To Go

Uber logo

What a dilemma. You are a 17 billion dollar technology firm, known for developing the technology application that supports the burgeoning car-hiring business, and most recently for expanding into music streaming by partnering with Spotify. Then one of your key executives is recorded, Mitt Romney-style, as he tells a reporter at a business gathering that the company should deal with negative publicity by doing “opposition research” on reporters and exposing their private lives in retaliation. Now what?

This is where hot tech start-up Uber is at the moment. The executive is Uber Vice President Emil Michael, a key figure in the company’s growth and success.  At a private company dinner in New York, he speculated that Uber could spend $1 million to hire a team to do the equivalent of “opposition research” on journalists who were critical of Uber, to dig into their private lives and family secrets. A reporter from BuzzFeed who was a guest at the event made Michael’s off-the-cuff comments public, setting off several rounds of high visibility attacks from various quarters—Sen. Al Franken called for an investigation—and apologies from Uber management, including Michael, whose statement said…

“The remarks attributed to me at a private dinner – borne out of frustration during an informal debate over what I feel is sensationalistic media coverage of the company I am proud to work for – do not reflect my actual views and have no relation to the company’s views or approach. They were wrong no matter the circumstance and I regret them.”

I rate this a category 7 apology on the Ethics Alarms apology scale: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Journalism & Media, Leadership

Comment of the Day: On Cosby, Clinton, And An Ethics Dunce Convention In Melbourne, Florida

Why can't a serial rapist be funny and cute?

Why can’t a serial rapist be funny and cute?

Frequent commenter aaronpaschal weighed in with this rich post on the Bill Cosby matter. I will hold my response to the end, because there is much to consider here, and much I disagree with. However, aaron has articulated well the thoughts many are having about the Cos, and I am grateful for the exposition. Here is his Comment of the Day regarding the post, On Cosby, Clinton, And An Ethics Dunce Convention In Melbourne, Florida.

I don’t know if I fully believe the allegations. I don’t know if the girls and women involved should bear some responsibility for choosing to become impaired. I don’t know if Cosby’s career will long survive this uproar – Netflix is dropping all of Cosby’s works in response, and that’ll cost someone a pretty penny.

But I do know that I don’t feel completely at ease with the notion that he faces ruin. That there is no evidence, no words, nothing he could present in his own defense. No courtroom, no trial, no lawyers. That the man who allegedly committed these acts did so a lifetime ago. I’ll admit that the women who have come out don’t have much tangibly to gain – but I also know all too well that revenge, hatred, defending existent lies, even merely time in the spotlight can be powerful motivators for some people (bearing in mind that pursuing justice, speaking the truth, and protecting the innocent are well – it could be any of them, all of them, or more.) There must, however, be SOME motive somewhere, or they would not be stepping forward – if there was truly nothing to gain.

But I do know that his works have always made me laugh, and I will appreciate them for years to come. I know I’ve heard wisdom from him, and these crimes don’t change the wisdom, either. I might not choose to leave my daughter alone with him. And I know that the court of public opinion makes very few wise choices, it is a terrible thing to be tried by it, guilty or innocent, and true justice is rarely found there.

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Comment of the Day, Gender and Sex, History, Humor and Satire, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, U.S. Society