There are times, not many, but a sufficient number to make my existence significantly grayer than I wish it to be, when I feel as if my professional endeavors have been in vain, and indeed, a waste of time. One such instance was the widespread defense of torture during the Bush administration. Another has been the reaction of some readers here to my post about Israel razing the homes of the families of presumed terrorists. I do not see how anyone who grasps the basic principles of ethics as they are explored and explicated on Ethics Alarms daily can pronounce such a policy as justified, justifiable, or anything other than unethical. If regular readers hear can come to a different conclusion, I am either not doing my job well, or the job itself is not worth doing.
Yesterday, Human Rights Watch called on Israel to stop razing the homes of Palestinians accused of attacking Israelis. The group called it a war crime, and I don’t like the concept of war crimes generally. The New York based organization’s argument, however, is irrefutable:
“Israel should impose an immediate moratorium on its policy of demolishing the family homes of Palestinians suspected of carrying out attacks on Israelis. The policy, which Israeli officials claim is a deterrent, deliberately and unlawfully punishes people not accused of any wrongdoing. When carried out in occupied territory, including east Jerusalem, it amounts to collective punishment, a war crime.”
Putting the war crime label aside, it is wrong enough that the act punishes those who have done nothing wrong other than be associated with a wrongdoer. There is no ethical system under which such an act is ethically defensible. It is an abuse of power. It fails any standard of Kantian ethics, using human beings as a means to an end, and proposing a standard that would, if universally adopted, send civilization into barbarism. It even fails extreme utilitarian ethics, for this means doesn’t even achieve a desirable end. The Israeli army believes that the razings do nothing to stem terrorist attacks, and there is no way that contention can be disproved. It is simply Old Testament justice of the most irrational and brutal kind. Continue reading
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.
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.
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
Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership, U.S. Society
Meanwhile, Lincoln pretty much just lay around after he was President…
Face the Nation had George W. Bush on today as its primary guest, so the show’s lead in, CBS This Morning, asked its guest, “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, what question he would ask the man who preceded President Obama in the Oval Office. Stewart’s smirking reply,
“ ‘Tell me about umber and how it helps you in painting cats.’ Jimmy Carter’s like 108? He’s out in Africa pulling guinea worms out of children’s feet, trying to cure them. Bush is at home. ‘Bring me my fruit bowl. Doin’ a still life!”
The technical term for this is, I believe,“being a dick.” Yes, it’s vulgar, but the usual terms don’t quite do Stewart’s gratuitous and unfair nastiness justice in trhis instance.
I recognize that Stewart, who eschewed a flood of well-deserved Democrat jokes over the past five days because he could not get around his massive anti-Republican biases, is in mourning over the GOP electoral avalanche that turned the nation red at all levels of government in all regions. Poor baby. Nonetheless, mocking one President of the United States for his activities in retirement because they do not measure up, in Stewart’s value system, to what Presidents are supposed to do is evidence of a stunning lack of grace, decency,proportion, self-awareness and common sense. Continue reading
Different hoodies, different races, same ethics…
Million Hoodies Movement for Justice is, in its own way, as racist as “Chimpmania,” and, I would argue, far more harmful.
The Chimpmania racists live on the margins of respectable civilization. They are the direct ideological descendants of those who wore hoods and lynched blacks in the South, but they operate in the shadows. Their hateful words and beliefs are almost universally recognized for what they are, the product of ignorance. The vast majority of Americans of any race or creed would be mortified to be associated with the site, or with anyone who read it.
In contrast, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice projects the sheen of respectability, and aims to advance legitimate, if debatable causes: the elimination of police militarization, and the banning of profiling. It is, however, as racist in its assumptions about whites as Chimpmania is regarding African-Americans, just more subtle. Continue reading
Every now and then a comment out of the blue reminds me of a post that I had forgotten. That was the case here. Reading it again for the first time in five years, I was struck by how the crux of the post is still relevant today (that crux has nothing to do with baseball), and indeed how the intervening five years have made what I thought was a bad trend a genuine political and cultural malady.
And the World Series is going on, and I feel badly about the Red Sox having such a miserable season. This post, which few read when it was first published as the blog was attracting (let’s see…) less than 200 views a day as opposed to nearly 4000 a day now, is a good one, and I enjoyed it. That “self-professed ethicist” has his moments…. Continue reading