Category Archives: Citizenship

Comment of the Day and Ferguson Thread Highlight: Chris Marschner On The Elusive Equal Treatment Problem

Doesn't seem right, somehow...

Doesn’t seem right, somehow…

At least one good thing has out of the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck, anyway: several unusually intense, frank and thought-provoking threads about race, “privilege” and poverty led by Ethics Alarms All-Stars Chris Marschner, deery, and urbanregor, with trenchant contributions by others as well. The most vigorous thread emerged here, in response to Marschner’s Comment of the Day on this post, on the unfolding Ferguson situation.

I could have chosen any number of comments to highlight by a separate post, but decided on this one, by Chris. First of all, it is remarkably thoughtful. Second, it transcends Ferguson and addresses the larger, related issues of poverty and perceived inequality of opportunity in the U.S. Third, it constitutes a first: a Comment of the Day, by the author of a Comment of the Day, commenting on his own piece. Guinness has been notified.

Here is Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day on his previous post, Comment of the Day: “Ethics Train Wrecks Collide, As The Redskins And Trayvon Martin’s Mother Board The Ferguson Express”: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Comment of the Day, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society

Wishing Ethics: What Should We WANT The Outcome To Be In Ferguson?

finger-crossed

The simple answer to the question in the headline is: we should all want the truth to come out, whatever it is, and be dealt with honestly and justly. I don’t think that result is possible, unfortunately, just as it proved impossible in the Martin-Zimmerman tragedy.If the truth could be determined, however…if an experimental, advanced video recorder just happened to capture everything that occurred between Officer Wilson and Mike Brown, including in the squad car; if it captured the incident from all angles, and we could hear and see everything that transpired between them, what would we want that to be, recognizing that the tragedy cannot be undone?

Would we want it to show that Mike Brown was murdered, that he was fleeing for his life when he escaped the car, then turned, fell to his knees ( as at least one witness claims) and was gunned down with his hands in the air? Obviously many Americans, including Brown’s family, the Ferguson protestors, many African-Americans, civil rights activists, police critics, politicians and pundits, have an interest in seeing this be the final verdict of investigators, for a multitude of reasons. The grieving family wants their son to be proven innocent of any fault in his own death. Others, especially those who prematurely declared Officer Wilson of guilty of “executing” Brown, have a strong interest in being proven right, for even though it would not excuse their unfair and irresponsible rush to judgment, such a determination would greatly reduce the intensity of criticism leveled at them.

[Side Note on Ethics Dunce Jay Nixon: That won't stop the criticism here, however: Whatever the facts prove to be,  Gov. Jay Nixon's comments are indefensible, and inexcusable. Now the Democrat is denying that they meant what he clearly meant to convey: calling for "justice for Brown's family" and a "vigorous prosecution" can only mean charging Wilson, and that is what those calling for Wilson to be arrested took his comments to mean. If the Governor didn't mean that, as he now claims, then he is 1) an ignoramus and 2) beyond incompetent to recklessly comment on an emotion-charged crisis in his state without choosing his words carefully.]

Or should we hope that the facts exonerate Wilson? After all, shouldn’t we want the one living participant in this tragedy to be able to have some semblance of a life without being forever associated with villainy? Certainly his family and friends, as well as member of the Ferguson police force who want their own ranks to be vindicated, and police all over the nation who have had their profession attacked and denigrated in the wake of the shooting, fervently hope that the narrative pushed by the demonstrators is proven wrong. Others want to see Wilson proven innocent for less admirable reasons. They want to use the incident to condemn police critics, and undermine and discredit civil rights advocates, especially long-time ideological foes like Al Sharpton. They want Eric Holder to look biased, (he looks biased anyway, because he appears to be taking sides) and to make the case—one that a single episode neither supports nor can possible rebut—that police do not have itchy trigger fingers when their weapons are pointed at young black men.

From the standpoint of ethics, which means that the best outcome will be the one that does the most good for society, the choice is complex.  Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Train Wrecks Collide, As The Redskins And Trayvon Martin’s Mother Board The Ferguson Express”

lynch mob

I had just read a nauseating post by self-declared liberal pragmatist Justin Barogona, who authored this despicable sentiment:

“The fact is that the protests would quickly simmer down if a handful of actions were taken, none of which involves SWAT teams, tear gas, riot gear, assault rifles or armored vehicles. The moment Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson gets charged with the murder of Mike Brown, the city of Ferguson won’t find itself overtaken with protests, rallies and marches…Wilson needs to be charged with a crime, and that needs to happen sooner rather than later. Anger and frustration will only continue to build upon itself as long as Wilson isn’t staring down a murder charge.”

This is essentially extortion, bordering on terrorism, I thought. Is this really mainstream liberal thought today in the United States—mob coerced indictments, regardless of truth, due process or fairness? Sacrifice a possibly innocent public servant so Ferguson, Mo. won’t burn? Bragona’s smug insistence that the obvious course of action is to charge a man with murder for political expediency marks him as beneath contempt, an enemy of the rule of law as well as basic fairness and decency. But how close is the position of Eric Holder and the Justice Department, as well as President Obama?

This story, telling us the the Obama Administration is promising civil rights leaders “justice,”  is ominous. “Justice,” to the protesters and those who decided to make the death of Mike Brown another symbolic indictment of white racism, and the facts be damned,means only one thing: tar Darren Wilson as a racist killer. Is Obama playing a dangerous game of deceit with his core supporters, or is he merely promising justice as it is supposed to be, letting the law follow the facts after an objective investigation? The latter is the obvious ethical and responsible course, indeed the only legitimate course. I don’t believe that is what is intended or meant, however. I think the Obama Administration is determined to prosecute Wilson regardless of what the investigation reveals, because it does not have the integrity or courage to oppose the mob, and “liberals” like Bragona.

Then I read about  Isis beheading photo-journalist James Foley, and their threat to kill another American if Obama doesn’t capitulate to their demands. As the two situations began to coalesce as a blog post in my fevered brain, Chris Marchener posted what follows, making my post superfluous.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Train Wrecks Collide, As The Redskins And Trayvon Martin’s Mother Board The Ferguson Express: Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Citizenship, Comment of the Day, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race

The Protest Ethics Check List And The Ferguson Demonstrations

APTOPIX Police Shooting Missouri

Protests are an American tradition, with protective rights enshrined in the Constitution, and a distinguished legacy that includes the Boston Tea Party and Martin Luther King’s civil rights marches and rallies. They are also perhaps the most misused and abused device in national politics. Most of them are useless, many of them are stupid, and too many of them do tangible harm.

The Obama Administration’s crisis of the hour is the Ethics Trainwreck in Ferguson, Missouri, where a perfect storm arose when an an inept, distrusted and untrustworthy police force and a poor and frustrated African-American population clashed over the Rashomon shooting of an unarmed black teen. Now there are demonstrations every day in Ferguson; several people have been killed, and the demonstrations have spawned rioting and looting.

What is the purpose of all of this? It better be a good one, given its cost, and the protesters better be right. The problem is that the protesters can’t possibly be right at this point, because the facts aren’t known. We are told that the reason for the demonstrations is larger than mere anger over the shooting of Michael Brown; that it’s about police harassment, abuse and violence against African-Americans and their lack of accountability for it. That would only be a sustainable justification if in fact the death of Brown was an unequivocal, clear-cut example of the phenomenon being protested. It is not, not yet, and it may never be. So again the question has to be asked: is it ethical to be protesting in Ferguson at all? Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, U.S. Society, Law & Law Enforcement, Citizenship, Race, Rights, Ethics Train Wrecks

Unethical App of the Year: BuyPartisan

The un-American app at work. Just what we need...more help at being divided.

The un-American app at work. Just what we need…more help at being divided.

One thing we can be sure of in our capitalistic, entrepreneurial culture: if there’s toxic conduct that somebody can make a buck out of facilitating, someone will.

BuyPartisan is a new smartphone app and the inspiration of app developer Spend Consciously. It allows users to receive an instant ideological score on every product, designating the manufacturer or service provider as virtuous or evil, or, as this sick, hyper-partisan, hyper-polarized, disintegrating culture would have it, Republican or Democratic, conservative or liberal.  After the self-righteous, hating-the-other-side-of-the-political-spectrum user scans the bar code on products with his or her phone camera, BuyPartisan (Get it???) accesses campaign finance data and analyzes contributions from the company’s board of directors, CEO, employees and PACs. This allows the happy, political aparthied-loving app user to stick it to any company that doesn’t comport with the user’s narrow, but absolutely right beyond question, view of the world.

Yecch. I want an app that tells me who uses this app, so I can avoid them whenever possible. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Daily Life, Government & Politics, Science & Technology

How Constitutional Government Censorship Works In Obama’s America

zipper on mouth

Sarah Durand, a senior editor at a division of Simon & Schuster, Atria Books, informed the literary agents of one of the U.S. soldiers who had submitted a book proposal about the conduct of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl—the controversial Taliban prisoner who was freed in a costly prisoner exchange and then hailed as a “hero” by the Obama administration— that the publishing house was not interested in pursuing the project. The soldiers, comrades of Bergdahl, allege that he is a traitor.

Maybe the book proposal was poor; maybe it isn’t what Atria Books is looking for at this time. Getting any book published is difficult for first-time authors, and there is no obligation for a publishing company to print anything.

However, this is what Durand wrote to explain the rejection:

“I’m not sure we can publish this book without the Right using it to their ends..the Conservatives are all over Bergdahl and using it against Obama and my concern is that this book will have to become a kind of ‘Swift Boat Veterans for Truth'”

In other words, a professional, supposedly non-partisan conduit for free speech and communication is restricting that speech for political and partisan reasons, and specifically to protect the government currently in power.

I would never argue that refusing to publish the book is unethical. That reason, however, if it is the only reason, is unethical, and also chilling. The only difference between the government censoring political speech and private enterprise censoring speech critical of the government is that the former is prohibited by the Constitution, and the latter is protected by the Constitution, since the freedom not to say something is the same as the freedom to say it. Durant and Atria, appear to be using that freedom to do exactly what a censoring government would do if it could. And how do we know that a Simon & Schuster executive didn’t contact the White House for guidance, and were told to bury the book for “future considerations”? We don’t. Yet this is the kind of suspicion and distrust engendered when communications entities behave like this.

Note that Durand doesn’t challenge the truth of the soldiers’ assertions about Bergdahl. Her concern is how it will be used by political opponents of President Obama. The fact that she would feel that this is a legitimate factor to be considered in publishing a book to the extent that she wouldn’t see the danger of expressing it in an e-mail is as disturbing as the sentiment itself. The book editor sees her duty as protecting the state from opposition and criticism, apparently. How many other gate-keepers of our free speech feel the same way?

_______________________________

Pointer: Newsbusters

Source: Yahoo!

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Filed under Citizenship, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Rights

The “Ordinary People Who Are Struggling Within Gaza” Are Not Innocent

President Obama continued a pattern of declaring deceitful formal support of Israel while throwing coded support for Palestinians to the Democratic base, which is, disgracefully, largely siding with the anti-Israel forces in Europe. His reluctance to commit the moral weight of his office against the conduct of Hamas and behind Israel was embarrassingly clear when he said, “I also think it is important to remember that Hamas acts extraordinarily irresponsibly when it is deliberately siting rocket launchers in population centers, putting populations at risk because of that particular military strategy.” Intentionally placing its own citizens, including children, in harm’s way to maximize photo-ready casualties that can turn world opinion against Israel is not “irresponsible.” The President trying to play both ends against the middle in the Gaza crisis is irresponsible. Using Gazans as human shields when Hamas forces Israel to respond militarily to missiles and tunnels is indistinguishable from evil, and the President, were he responsible, would say so unequivocally. Instead, he resorts to weasel words, equivocations. Surely, this President extolled for his eloquence knows the meaning of the words he uses.

Then, this week, Obama gave us this:

“I have no sympathy for Hamas. I have great sympathy for ordinary people who are struggling within Gaza.”

Godwin’s Law be damned: a Nazi Germany analogy is instructive here. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Leadership, War and the Military

Ethics Dunce: Mary’s Gourmet Diner in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Welcome to Mary's! Some are more welcome than others...

Welcome to Mary’s! Some are more welcome than others…

I wish this were a joke, (thinking back on the previous post) but apparently it’s not.

The diner gives a 15% discount to customers who appear to say grace before eating. Yes, it’s a public prayer discount. Mary’s  has been doing this for years, a co-owner confirmed to NPR. Finally someone posted a receipt with the line item for “15% Praying in Public ($6.07)” to Facebook.

I detest this kind of thing, and so should you, because it is ethically indefensible and un-American to the core. The policy, whether it is well-publicized or quietly implemented as this one was, exacerbates societal divisions and embraces bias and prejudice. There may be a legal difference between this and charging a premium (that is, a penalty) to those who have Obama stickers on their cars or who are wearing T-shirts with the logo of the local team’s nemesis, but ethically it is all the same: splitting the world into them and us, good guys and bad guys, the virtuous and the reviled. All of “Mary’s” customers are human beings, and that is the only thing that should matter in the United States of America.

Now that this offensive policy has been outed, the question is this: Is it unethical for a non-believer to pretend to pray in order to get the diner’s unethical discount for the godly? Of course it is.

It’s also unethical to patronize a restaurant that discriminates against its own patrons.

___________________________

Facts: NPR

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Dunces, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

Ethics Hero: Columnist George Will

George WillI just watched George Will stun the Fox News Sunday panel by arguing against virtually all conservative pundits by insisting that the U.S. should welcome the hoard of children being apprehended at the border as they accept the current Administration’s open invitation to illegal immigrants.

“We ought to say to these children, ‘Welcome to America, you’re going to go to school and get a job and become Americans,’” Will said. “We have 3,141 counties in this country. That would be 20 per county. The idea that we can’t assimilate these eight-year-old criminals with their teddy bears is preposterous.”

I think the policy that Will is advocating is foolish, wrong, and will continue to incentivize illegal immigration.Nonetheless, in giving his contrarian opinion Will demonstrated personal integrity, courage, and showed those who accuse him of being a knee-jerk mouthpiece for Republicans and conservatives that they are wrong. His independence from the right-wing echo chamber also encourages viewers to start thinking for themselves.

I pledge to give a matching Ethics Hero designation to the first liberal pundit who argues that the human weapons in this unethical “think of the children!” assault on our laws and sovereignty should be shipped home, thus demonstrating similar integrity and independence from progressive talking points.

I’m waiting.

_____________

Graphic: Mediaite

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Dunce: Radio Talk Show Host Bryan Fischer

To be fair, I guess it's possible that Fischer captured a leprechaun who granted him three wishes, in which case his prescription for ending AIDS isn't crazy after all. So I may owe him an apology...

To be fair, I guess it’s possible that Fischer captured a Leprechaun who granted him three wishes, in which case his prescription for ending AIDS isn’t crazy after all. So I may owe him an apology…

When ideology, including religion, requires one to abandon all connection to reality, unethical positions are sure to follow.  Christian conservative talk show host Bryan Fisher launched an angry rant over what he called President Obama’s promotion of sexual deviancy in his remarks following the downing of MH17 over the Ukraine. Here are the relevant remarks by the President:

“Let me close by making one additional comment. On board Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17 there were apparently near 100 researchers and advocates traveling to an international conference in Australia dedicated to combating AIDS/HIV. These were men and women who had dedicated their own lives to saving the lives of others, and they were taken from us in a senseless act of violence.

In this world today we shouldn’t forget that in the midst of conflict and killing, there are people like these, people who are focused on what can be built rather than what can be destroyed, people who are focused on how they can help people that they’ve never met, people that define themselves not by what makes them different from other people but by the humanity that we hold in common. It’s important for us to lift them up and to affirm their lives. And it’s time for us to heed their example.

The United States of America is going to continue to stand for the basic principle that people have the right to live as they choose, that nations have the right to determine their own destiny, and that when terrible events like this occur, the international community stands on the side of justice and on the side of truth.”

Now here is Fischer’s reaction: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Around the World, Health and Medicine, Religion and Philosophy, Citizenship, Research and Scholarship, Gender and Sex, Rights