Category Archives: Ethics Heroes

Ethics Hero: Judge Richard Posner

Sure, you have a right to think there's something wrong with that, but the state has no business acting as if it thinks so too.

Sure, you have a right to think there’s something wrong with that, but the state has no business acting as if it thinks so too.

Because Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit Court was appointed by Ronald Reagan, he is usually describes as a conservative judge. He’s better described as an unusually smart, articulate, thoughtful and courageous judge, and in responding to oral arguments  lawyers for Wisconsin and Indiana defending their state’s marriage bans, he proved it.

I have frequently attempted to draw a distinction between those guided by archaic religious morality that causes them to regard same-sex marriage as sinful, and the attempt to use the government, which must not be guided by religion to make such marriages illegal. Morality doesn’t have to be defended by logic—God works in mysterious ways, you know—but laws do. A complete evisceration emanating from a place of authority of the specious and often absent reasoning behind gay marriage bans was much needed, and knowing that he risked criticism as a “judicial bully” for doing so with gusto, Judge Posner came through.

Here is a sampling of the barrage he placed on Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher and Wisconsin’s assistant attorney general Timothy Samuelson: Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy, Romance and Relationships, 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

The Gay Marriage Acceptance Reverse-Foxhole Conversion Problem

Atheists in trenchesThe New York Times sported a front page story extolling the actions and familial love of Rev. Frank Schaefer, a United Methodist minister, whose son Tim, now 30, had been raised  in his father’s conservative church in West Germany, Pennsylvania, where sermons, policy and the congregation embodied the belief that homosexuality was a sin, and gay marriage a monstrosity.  Then, after he had contemplated suicide, Tim told his father he was gay, and later that he wanted to wed his same-sex partner. The loving father accepted his son and presided over the wedding, causing him to become a target of criticism in his church, and the defendant in a church trial. To the Times reporter, Michael Paulson, he is an unequivocal hero.

He did the right thing, no question, just as Dick Cheney and Republican Senator Rob Portman did the right thing by changing their position on gay marriage when their children showed them the human side of the issue. I also agree that it takes courage to admit you are wrong, and that being able to change one’s ethical analysis is an essential ability for all of us. Indeed, in this post, I designated as an Ethics Hero an outspoken gay marriage opponent for changing his position after he became friends with gay men and women, leading him to realize, as he put it, that Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Heroes, Family, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

Ethics Hero Emeritus (Independence Day Division): John Dickinson (1732-1808)

Villainous, singing version on the left; heroic, real life version on the right.

Villainous, singing version on the left; heroic, real life version on the right.

It is the American patriot John Dickinson’s curse that the very strength of character that caused him to stand out among the other Founders and that led them to respect him as much or more than any other also made him the black sheep in the inspiring tale of American independence. This led to relative obscurity. Although Dickinson is honored (along with his wife) by Dickinson College, Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University, and University of Delaware’s Dickinson Complex, he is largely unknown to most Americans. He would be even less known, had Peter Stone not chosen to make him the villain of his 1969Tony-winning musical “1776,” where he was portrayed as a conservative loyalist who almost single-handedly foils the efforts of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin to declare independence from Great Britain. Whatever that choice’s dramatic virtues, it was unfair to Dickinson in every way.

Raised a Quaker, educated as a lawyer and a farmer by trade, Dickinson began public life in 1760 when he was elected to the Delaware legislature. During the next fifteen years he served both in that body and in the Pennsylvania legislature, a rare dual service made possible because he owned property in both colonies.

When the British Parliament instituted measures in the Colonies to raise revenue and provide for the quartering of British troops, Dickinson was one of the most eloquent and persuasive critics of the Crown, always with the intention of finding a satisfactory negotiated accord that did not involve the threat of armed rebellion. He urged Americans to rely primarily on economic pressure to oppose the hated Stamp Act, and he enlisted the influence of British merchants on the colonists’ behalf. His diplomatic orientation seemed like a prudent antidote to the firebrands calling for revolution in Boston, so the Pennsylvania legislature appointed him to represent that colony at the Stamp Act Congress of 1765. There he advocated the proposition that reconciliation was possible if the King and Parliament would only realize that colonial opposition was in the grand tradition English principles of political liberty. Dickinson set his reasoning to paper in his “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania,” a series of deft essays that brought Dickinson international fame as a man of reason and principle. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, History, Leadership, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, War and the Military

Ethics Hero: “Good Day New York” Co-anchor Rosanna Scotto

Screen-Shot-2014-06-27-at-3.52.23-PM

Rosanna Scotto had the professionalism, decency and the courage to step in and reprimand (and embarrass) partner Greg Kelly who engaged in on-air sexual harassment of a young colleague during today’s morning broadcast on the Fox affiliate.

Reporter Anna Gilligan was assigned to New Jersey’s Action Park to try out the new Tarzan rope swing. This required putting on a bathing suit, in Gilligan’s case a relatively conservative two-piece.

. When she completed the water ride,  wet and probably self-conscious (no fair TV exec should make a young woman expose herself like that on TV), Kelly leered, “Nice bathing suit.” He then began teasing her with questions about her temporary breathlessness, tilting into innuendo  Scotto reminded him him to “stay appropriate,”  but to no avail: Kelly was in full frat boy mode. When Gilligan ended her segment by saying she was going to put some clothes on, Kelly protested playfully, saying, “hold on a second, not so fast, Anna!”

When they  cut back to the news desk,  Scotto gave Kelly a disgusted look and asked, “What is wrong with you?”

I wish she had said more, but she was probably right: any more pointed criticism would be airing dirty linen in public. To answer her question though, here is what’s the matter with Kelly:

  • He’s unprofessional, a fool and a pig.
  • He clearly didn’t get the memo, and it came from the culture many years ago, that you don’t treat a female employee, colleague or subordinate like a sex object, a piece of meat or eye candy in the work place. The conduct is rude, it denigrates her as a professional and a human being, it gives a green light to other harassers in the workplace and creates a hostile environment not only for her but for every female employee who sees or learns of the incident. It is also illegal.
  • He is such a boor and a fool that he not only did this, but did it on live TV.

Greg Kelly owes Gilligan, Scotto and every other woman at at the station and in the audience an apology.

Then he should be fired.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Workplace

Ethics Hero Emeritus: Senator Howard Baker (1925-2014)

Howard_Baker

Howard H. Baker Jr., a three-term Tennessee Senator whose trademarks were integrity, honesty, and a refusal to allow partisanship get in the way of what he believed was the right thing to do, died today.  The Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky,  called him “one of the Senate’s most towering figures.” How ironic, or perhaps just insincere. If McConnell understood and admired the qualities that made Baker “towering” he couldn’t possibly be the divisive, petty, ultra-partisan hack that he is. Then again, comparing Baker’s career and character to the scrimy, petty, self-centered and ethics-challenged dwarves that make up all of McConnell’s colleagues  in both Houses and on both sides of the aisle reveals such an obvious disparity that even the sorry likes of McConnell couldn’t deny it.

Howard Baker stands especially tall in my memory as I watch the disgraceful conduct of House Democrats, doing all they could to derail the I.R.S scandal hearings and to prevent the uncovering of facts surrounding the executive branch’s abuse of power, because they have chosen political loyalty and expediency over transparency, fairness, duty to country, and trust. Contrast this horror show with the principled stance of Baker during Watergate, seeking uncomfortable truths rather than throwing obstacles in the way of efforts to uncover them, treating abuse of power and attempted cover-ups from his own party’s President as he would the same from a Democrat, asking the famous question, “What did the President know, and when did he know it?” Continue reading

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Sorry, Chris Cuomo: You’d Be An Ethics Hero If It Wasn’t For Your Blatant Conflict Of Interest

CNN’s  co-host on “New Day,” Chris Cuomo,  is about as pro-active a news anchor as one can imagine, often hijacking interviews and advocating his own positions as his guests listen. All of CNN’s morning hosts do this; though Cuomo wears his progressive pedigree on his sleeve, he is less annoying in the practice than colleagues like Carol Costello, in part because he is smarter, fairer, and less predictable. Sometimes he bucks the liberal line, and an Ethics Hero-worthy example occurred this week, when he repeatedly mocked the media’s ongoing coronation of Hillary Clinton, and the Malaysian airliner-level coverage she has been getting on CNN, and elsewhere.   CNN, after a segment on Hillary Clinton’s interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer as part of the former Secretary of State’s book promotion, Cuomo made such comments as these:

  • “Coming up on New Day, the Hillary Clinton book tour: Is it really the kickoff to her presidential campaign? Because, otherwise, why are we talking about it so much?”
  • “It’s a problem because what she’s doing is what they call in politics “freezing pockets” because the donors are giving her money thinking she’s going to run. That means they’re not going to have available money for other candidates…if she doesn’t. And I don’t think she’s going to give it to them.
  • “We couldn’t help her any more than we have, you know. I mean, she’s got just a free ride so far from the media. We’re the biggest ones promoting her campaign, so it better happen.”
  • “Coming up on New Day, the endless reading of the Hillary tea leaves continues. She’s now speaking out about her decision on whether to decide, and we’re covering this as if she has decided.”

Bravo! Except that there’s one little problem that throws the legitimacy of Cuomo’s refreshingly candid (and accurate) exposition of the news media’s functioning as part of the Clinton campaign PR apparatus. Continue reading

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