Category Archives: Race

KABOOM! The Michael Brown Memorial

Brown memorial

Normally, as is the usual Ethics Alarms tradition when a story causes my head to explode, I would begin with a graphic representing the moment when reading a news item about unethical conduct so shorted-out my cranial wiring that my skull did an imitation of Dante’s Peak. The cause of the eruption, in this case, is even more disgusting than some of those bloody pictures, so I’m posting a photo of that instead. Now, assuming you have an ethics compass that doesn’t spin wildly due to a manufacturing defect, your head has exploded too.

KABOOM!

I have to hand it to the good people of Ferguson, Missouri. They have officially disproved the chestnut, “You have a right to your opinion, but you don’t have a right to your own set of facts.” The late Michael Brown—I’m sure you’ve heard of him—is being honored with his own memorial in the town, like military heroes, local martyrs, long-time community leaders, and distinguished men and women born in communities and who honored them by their accomplishments. Apparently the city is under the misconception that Michael Brown fits one of these categories, despite conclusive evidence to the contrary certified by the U.S. Justice Department, which was desperate to prove that the Gentle Giant was a pure as the driven snow. Thus Ferguson is anointing Brown with icon status, poisoning the values and the culture of the city from the moment the memorial is dedicated.

How sad, how wrong, and how stupid. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

Comment of the Day: “What’s Going On Here?” Ten Ethics Observations On The Miami Beach Police Force Racist E-mails”

praise

Nothing makes me consider  shouting praise to the skies like the situation I just experienced. I find myself in a hotel, away from home, waking up feeling sick, having to prepare for a two hour ethics lecture to young lawyers and knowing that writing a new Ethics Alarms post will either make me frantic or result in a product even more riddled with typos than usual. And there it is! A worthy Comment of the Day, allowing me to present high quality ethics content that I don’t have to write myself, giving me time to work, get back home and think. (Unless I die first, because boy, do I feel lousy.)

The perfectly-timed COTD in question is by the commenter formerly known as  Penn, and involves a topic that I am speaking about this morning, e-mail. I don’t even mind that he doesn’t agree with the statements that sparked his comment: that police should be required under threat of dismissal to report racist -mails from colleagues, and that workplace e-mails have to be monitored by responsible supervisors. Here is SamePenn’s Comment of the Day on the post, “What’s Going On Here? Ten Ethics Observations On The Miami Beach Police Force Racist E-mails.”

And thank you, thank you, thank you! Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, Science & Technology, The Internet, Workplace

“What’s Going On Here?” Ten Ethics Observations On The Miami Beach Police Force Racist E-mails

Police games...

Police games…

Fred, my tireless and apparently sleepless issue scout, alerted me to this ugly story out of Florida:

MIAMI (AP) — A handful of Miami Beach police officers sent hundreds of racially offensive and pornographic emails and possibly jeopardized dozens of criminal cases in which they are witnesses, the department’s chief said Thursday. An internal investigation revealed that two of the 16 officers were high-ranking within the Miami Beach Police Department and were the main instigators, Chief Daniel Oates told reporters. One has retired, and the other was fired Thursday.Oates said the probe revealed about 230 emails demeaning to African-Americans and women or pornographic in nature. Many were depictions of crude racial jokes involving President Barack Obama or black celebrities such as golfer Tiger Woods. One shows a woman with a black eye and the caption, “Domestic violence. Because sometimes, you have to tell her more than once.”

One of the racially offensive emails depicted a board game called “Black Monopoly” in which every square says “go to jail.” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said about 540 cases in which the officers were witnesses are being reviewed to determine if they are tainted racially. Some charges could be dropped as a result or prisoners freed from jail

Fred comments, beginning with the favorite Ethics Alarms first step to ethics analysis:”What’s going on here? A widespread failure of leadership and personnel screening.”

That, for sure. Unfortunately, there is even more:

1. Number 2, after leadership, is training. It is mind-blowing that any police officers in the United States of America would not be aware of the degree to which such conduct jeopardizes community relations, trust and the effectiveness of the department, but I read about equally idiotic e-mail behavior from judges, lawyers, elected officials and business executives weekly. The message that this kind of thing is as destructive to the department and everyone in it, and won’t be tolerated even once, must be sent regularly, formally, and emphatically. Obviously, it wasn’t.

2. Do such e-mails prove that the Miami Beach police, or even the police officers involved, perform their jobs in a racist manner? The answers are 1) no, and 2) it doesn’t matter.

Once anything like this becomes public, trust is impossible for two reasons. First, it is more likely than not that someone who thinks e-mails like these are amusing does not sufficiently respect women and minorities, and second, it is beyond argument that their judgment is horrific. People who think it’s amusing to denigrate any group are not certain to be racist in their interactions with such groups, but given a choice, those groups would rather take their chances with someone else, and so would I. Meanwhile, people whose judgement is this horrific shouldn’t carry guns. Continue reading

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Filed under Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society, Workplace

Atrocious People, Part IV: The New BU Professor’s Racist, Not Racist, “Indelicate” Tweets

She's thinking about how much she hate's you guts, White Boy. Good luck with that paper.

The Professor’s  thinking about how much she hates your guts, White Boy. Good luck with that paper!

Saida Grundy, a newly hired assistant professor of sociology and African-American studies who is scheduled to begin her tenure at Boston University on July 1, tweeted  this query: “Why is white America so reluctant to identify white college males as a problem population?” In another tweet, she announced that “Every MLK week I commit myself to not spending a dime in white-owned businesses. And every year I find it nearly impossible.”

She’s a racist, sexist, anti-white bigot, and Boston University should fire her immediately, just as it would fire a professor who announced that black females were a problem population and that he would like to avoid patronizing black-owned businesses. If it doesn’t, alumni should withhold their contributions until the college is reduced to the status of a roadside stand. If it doesn’t responsible parents should pull their white, male children out of the place and send them somewhere that isn’t actively recruiting professors who hate them

Even if BU does fire her, the school’s recruitment and hiring practices need to be thoroughly investigated and over-hauled.

Saida Grundy is also a fool who thinks her future students are fools. Her “explanation” for the social media outbursts was this:

“I regret that my personal passion about issues surrounding these events led me to speak about them indelicately. I deprived them of the nuance and complexity that such subjects always deserve.”

Huh? What is the nuanced way to write that a gender and race are a blight on academia, and that one discriminates against white business owners? her statement simply means “I’m sorry that I wrote what I really think.” Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Education, Gender and Sex, Race

The Ultimate Pazuzu At TNT Academy

pazuzzu

Frequent readers here will be familiar with the Pazuzu Excuse. Pazuzu was the demon that made Linda Blair say such awful things in “The Exorcist”—he also made her head swivel around 180 degrees. Pazuzu is the presumptive miscreant whenever someone tried to beg forgiveness for a particularly vile, and often career-threatening remark by arguing that the statement “didn’t reflect my true beliefs,” as if someone else had suddenly grabbed the controls. Michael Richards (“Kramer” on “Seinfeld”) was, therefore, mystified about why he suddenly started screaming “Nigger!” at a stand-up comedy performance. Mel Gibson swore that all the anti-Semitic slurs he uttered on a fateful night were of mysterious origin, since he isn’t the kind of guy who would act like that. (Later events proved this to be mistaken.) There are many examples from the famous, momentarily famous and not famous at all.

The Full Pazuzu is reached when someone implies that what was said or written suggests a different identity. Sony executive Amy Pascal, to cite a recent example, explained her hacked e-mails (which really weren’t that bad) by writing,

“The content of my emails were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am…”

Whoever or whatever those e-mails were an accurate reflection of, they fired him/her/it.

Now, however, by way of Stone Mountain, Georgia, comes a rare Ultimate Pazuzu, where the individual under fire really blamed the devil. [NOTE: Pazuzu isn’t the devil, but he works for him, so under the principle of agency, it’s a distinction without a difference.] Continue reading

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Unethical Quote Of The Week: Washington Post Columnist Eugene Robinson

“The first two steps toward uplifting young black men are simple: Stop killing them and stop locking them in prison for nonviolent offenses. Subsequent steps are harder, but no real progress can be made until the basic right to life and liberty is secured. If anything positive is to come of Freddie Gray’s death and the Baltimore rioting that ensued, let it be a new and clear-eyed focus on these fundamental issues of daily life for millions of Americans.”

Washington Post Columnist Eugene Robinson, in an op-ed called “It’s time to seriously rethink ‘zero tolerance’ policing.”

"Honoring Excellence in Journalism, and the occasional incompetent hack..."

“Honoring Excellence in Journalism, and the occasional incompetent hack…”

Seldom have I read a column by a prominent pundit that so disqualified itself from serious consideration by the utter foolishness of its first sentence. Robinson has a right to say any silly thing he chooses, but as a columnist for a major newspaper, he has an obligation to use his extra-loud trumpet responsibly, because ideas have power, and really, really stupid ideas do terrible damage when supposedly smart and influential “experts” begin promoting them.

Robinson has a Pulitzer Prize, not that I have ever seen evidence of why. A paragraph like this one, however, ought to be grounds for revocation. It is Pulitzer Prize-winner malpractice. I know that Robinson is an African-American and a Democratic Party cheer-leader, right or wrong, and feels like he has to jump on board whatever pandering policy bandwagons the Democratic standard bearers start driving whether they make any sense or not.  But there have to be limits. All right, let’s debate non-confinement punishments for drug offenses, since apparently a disproportional number of  African-Americans find simply obeying  laws unfairly challenging. It is certainly not healthy for any society to have an already under-performing demographic group suffering from a critical mass of life, career and family disruption.

To say, however, as Robinson does, that the “easy” part of the solution is to “stop locking them in prison for nonviolent offenses” is irresponsible beyond belief or excuse. Non-violent drug offenses? I’ll tolerate the debate. All non-violent offenses? Burglary,  grand theft, forgery, drunk driving, fraud, identify theft…no prison time? What, then? Or do we just legalize those things? Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Hero: Toya Graham, The Baltimore Riot’s ‘Mom of the Year’”

Baltimore mom

I don’t know if a 24 hour period has ever produced as many provocative, passionate and well-argued comments on Ethics Alarms before. This, commenter Holly’s reaction to my designation of the viral  Baltimore mom Toya Graham clobbering her rioter son during the Freddie Gray disruptions in Charm City, is just one of several. I’ll address some of the issues she raises after the post; in the meantime, here is Holly’s Comment of the Day, in a day that will probably have more than one, on the post, “Ethics Hero: The Baltimore Riot’s ‘Mom of the Year’”:

I am surprised at this response. For a number of reasons. In any other circumstance, this woman probably would be going to jail. But if we watch the video more closely, the following observations can be made:

1. This child was leaving with his mother and she was so angry that she chases him to pull him back towards her to continue the beating. He appeared to be complying and in her anger continued to the assault the kid during the walk away.

2. The child was not in imminent danger. There are bystanders all around I saw no rocks being thrown in this video nor police for that matter. It does not appear the threat of losing his life was immediately in front of them.

3. The assault starts with a few close-fisted strikes as well as continuing with open-fisted strikes or what people are calling “smacks”.

Exemplary action on the part of this mother would not have been beating her son as he walked away from the riot, however.  It would have included not allowing a 16 year out of her supervision to wander in the riot in the first place. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Love, Race