Category Archives: Ethics Dunces

Unethical Quote of the Week: Dick Cheney

Hello, I'll be your torturer today. Now, if you are innocent, please understand, on balance this works.

Hello, my name is Skug, and I’ll be your torturer today. Now, if you are innocent, please understand, on balance this works.

“I’m more concerned with bad guys who got out and released than I am with a few that, in fact, were innocent.”

—Former V.P. Dick Cheney, giving his reactions on “Meet the Press” regarding the Senate’s critique of the Bush Administration and the CIA’s interrogation methods.

I try to be fair to Dick Cheney, whose character has been distorted beyond all recognition by his partisan foes. Sunday, however, he was apparently attempting to validate all the most terrible things anyone has said about him, as well as providing future students of ethics real life examples of ethical fallacies.

The one quoted above is the pip: so much for the jurisprudential principle that It is better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer.”   Chuck Todd reminded Cheney that 25% of those detained were apparently innocent. The Cheney variation: “It is OK if some innocent persons are unjustly punished as long as the bad guys get what they deserve.”

It is hard to pick the most unethical assertion, however; there are so many horrible statements to choose from. Such as: Continue reading

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Signature Significance Verdict: Lena Dunham Is An Awful Human Being

 UPDATED!

Yechh.

Yechh.

If her boasting about abusing her little sister in her memoir wasn’t enough, Lena Dunham’s revealed conduct regarding “Barry” in the same tome rings the signature significance bell. No human being with a sufficient amount of decency would do something like this, even once.

In case you have not followed the latest ethics scandal involving the over-praised creator and star of HBO’s “Girls,” what occurred is this:

In one chapter of Dunham’s memoir “Not That Kind of Girl,” the feminist actress describes as factual an episode of sexual assault or rape that she says she experienced while an undergraduate at Oberlin. Her assailant was a well-known campus “Republican,” she says, a conservative whom she refers to as Barry—without the conventional quotes that would indicate a pseudonym.

There was, as it happens,  a real Oberlin college graduate from the same period named Barry, then well-known as a conservative, which then as now, is a species about as common at Oberlin as velociraptors. Besides his name and campus reputation, Barry fit some of the other details given by Dunham, such as wearing cowboy boots and sporting a flamboyant mustache. Now the 28-year-old man (the same age as Dunham)  is being tarred as a rapist, and has been forced to take down his social media accounts. He has hired a lawyer named Aaron Minc, with the help of donations from GoFundMe to help pay his legal fees, and has promised that any money he receives from the suit exceeding legal fees will go to charities assisting survivors of rape and sexual assault.

Dunham has not had the courage or decency to say anything, to or about Barry. But yesterday Random House did, in an extraordinary statement and admission: Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: George Stevens, Jr.

Abuse of power, abuse of position, disrespect, unfairness and old-fashioned pettiness—these are just some of the ethics fouls the Kennedy Center’s George Stevens, Jr. committed during the 37th Kennedy Center Honors program last night in Washington, D.C.

“Take this job and shove it” is a pleasing anthem of the abused and disaffected in the workforce, but acting on the sentiment is usually a bad idea, and in some cases, like this one, a terrible idea. The Kennedy Center Honors program was Stevens’ baby from its inception nearly two decades ago, a gala honoring the greats of American culture with a star-studded stage show attended by the glitterati of Washington and Hollywood. Through his skill and showmanship—it runs in his family: he is the son of the great Hollywood director George Stevens, who directed “Shane,” among other classics–he had made the annual event an institution. The awards were considered the official confirmation of icon status, and the program was one of the few culture-related presentations remaining that was deemed worthy of a yearly network telecast. Apparently, Stevens felt that he made the Honors what they were, so he had the right to warp it to his own selfish ends.

Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein thanked the audience for its support, and then, in a gesture unchanged from past years, thanked producers George Stevens Jr. This time, however, instead of waving from the audience as in past years, Stevens came on stage and announced that Rubenstein was forcing him out as producer after 37 years. “We accept that this will be our last Honors,” Stevens said. “This is our good night.” It was hardly a spontaneous show of pique, for he had programmed his comments into the teleprompter.

The sour note interrupted the flow of the evening, and cast a pall over the tributes to honorees Lily Tomlin and Sting, which had not yet begun. (The celebrations of the careers of Tom Hanks, ballerina Patricia McBride and soul singer Al Green had been completed.)

Stevens had been engaged in contentious talks with Kennedy Center management, which wanted to move the Honors show in a new direction and sought a fresh creative vision. In a messy split redolent of Jerry Lewis’s divorce from the Annual MS Labor Day Telethon, an aging creator of a cherished tradition was being retired against his will, and felt betrayed.

Jerry Lewis, however, did not crash the telethon to announce his departure.

This kind of petulant and vindictive exit may feel good in the doing, but is always destructive. The victims included the honorees, the audience, and Steven’s own good will and reputation, as well the event itself.  Can this be justified by the momentary satisfaction of telling his foes at the Kennedy Center off, and holding them up for brief, unwanted criticism? Of course not. All this act accomplishes is to make it clear why the leadership of the Kennedy Center concluded that it was time for Stevens to go. This was not the act of a professional nor the act of a gentlemen. It is the act of an egotist, or perhaps that of someone who has stayed too long and through age or complacency forgotten that maxim of both the theater and life, that you always want to leave your audience wanting more.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Workplace

Ethics Dunce and Unethical Facebook Post of the Month: Elizabeth Lauten, Spokeswoman for Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tennessee)

Elizabeth Lauten, communications director for Republican Congressman Stephen Fincher, decided that she is authorized to give parental advice to First Offspring Sasha (13) and Malia (16) Obama. She was deeply troubled by the young ladies looking bored in photographs she saw online, so she posted this jaw-dropper on Facebook:

Facebook lecture

Wow. What a Thanksgiving feast of unethical features! Let’s see: Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Family, Government & Politics, Literature, Professions, The Internet, Unethical Blog Post

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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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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On Cosby, Clinton, And An Ethics Dunce Convention In Melbourne, Florida

Cosby billboard

It is kind of funny, isn’t it, to hear and read the shocked reactions of pundits to the fact that probable serial rapist Bill Cosby got a standing ovation from his concert crowd of 2100 in Melbourne, Florida last night? “What could this mean?” they ask. Does this mean that Cosby’s popularity will survive the onslaught of women reporting that he drugged and raped them years ago? Well, no, it means that 2100 people who paid premium prices to see Bill Cosby and attended his concert even after hearing more than sufficient evidence that he is a sick hypocrite like Bill Cosby.

Wow.

What a surprise.

Nor should it be any surprise that that many people will adopt rationalizations and tortured logic to avoid confronting the cognitive dissonance resulting from a self-styled moral exemplar having a spectacularly immoral, indeed criminal, past. After all, the Democratic National Convention, with a lot more that 2,100 in attendance, cheered serial sexual harasser and sexual predator William Jefferson Clinton as he spoke to a throng protesting Republican attitudes toward women, as progressive journalists and pundits from MSNBC to the New York Times nodded in approval.

Unrelated, you say? Wrong. The phenomenon is exactly the same, and therein lies a serious problem for Hillary Clinton. The rationalizations used to rescue her husband from accountability for his decades long abuse of women are exactly the same as those being used now by Cosby’s desperate fans to try to keep laughing at the wise humor of the icon who includes in his storehouse of wisdom such nuggets as… Continue reading

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