Category Archives: Race

Shortest Investigation Ever: Determining Whether It Was Inappropriate For The Middle School Vice Principal To Say In A Video, “I Don’t Like Black Kids”

"Wait, let's not leap to conclusions...maybe he's not dead."

“Wait, let’s not leap to conclusions…maybe he’s not dead.”

In Fresno, California, Scandinavian Middle School vice principal Joe DiFilippo was recorded on video by a student saying, “I don’t like black kids” in the cafeteria. The video was then posted on YouTube. Fresno Unified School District officials said DiFilippo has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.

Maybe I’m suffering from a momentary lack of imagination, but what else do they need to know? I understand union rules and the need for due process, but what findings could possibly, ever, under any circumstances, allow DiFilippo to keep his job? 11% of the school’s students are black. Why would they ever feel secure going to a school where an administrator said such a thing in the school? (I’m assuming the man didn’t really say, “I don’t like black kids any more or less than I like any other kids, as everyone in the school knows.” Watching the video would presumably make that possibility moot.)

District officials say they are investigating “the context in which the comment was made.”  What possible context could mitigate that statement? Let’s see…maybe he was talking about not liking them for special purposes, like snacks or as piñatas? “I don’t like black kids..when they’re on fire? When they are holding Uzis on my family? When they sing the Sponge Bob theme song”?

It doesn’t matter! If there is anything the man doesn’t like about black kids that he accepts about white kids, he’s not qualified to be a vice-principle.

Every second Mr.Fillippi doesn’t resign, he’s wasting time and money, and proving that he is just as big a fool as the video shows him to be. If no investigation can save  him, then he shouldn’t wait for an investigation to do the right thing.

 

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Protest Slogan Ethics, Lies As Enlightenment, And “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!”

Witness 128...

Witness 128…

Today’s Washington Post Fact Checker column finally weighs in on whether of not “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” is a lie.  I won’t keep you in suspense: Of course it is.

As I had no ideological reason to pretend that it was otherwise, I identified the phrase as such last November. Since then, it has been wielded by athletes, journalists, members of Congress, protesters, talking heads, professional athletes, and pop stars, while contributing to getting some police officers shot. There was no need for this verdict to take so long. “Better late than never,” you say? How about better responsibly on time, as in when the facts were available to anyone with the integrity to reject a useful catch-phrase that was without basis in fact?

For some reason this is not the regular Post Fact Checker. Maybe Glenn Kessler, a partisan who makes a reasonable  effort to overcome his biases, couldn’t get around them this time, or is sick or dead or something. This Fact Checker is Michelle Ye Hee Lee, and she hardly leaves any room for doubt as she lays the blame for the whole scam squarely on the head of the late Mike Brown’s pal, Dorian Johnson, a.k.a. Witness 128. To be fair, “Hands Up” was not a lie for those who used it profligately after Johnson’s false accounts, for they sincerely, if recklessly and negligently, believed it to be true. This was Johnson’s lie, and though it was obviously self-serving, and though he was as unreliable a source as it was possible to be, confirmation bias allowed all of these good people—well, some of them are good—-beginning with Brown’s parents, to accept it as truth. It was easier for them to believe that white police officers gun down unarmed, gentle giants in the street for no reason other than their color than to question the word of Brown’s scuzzy, criminal friend. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

I Suppose It Is Comforting To Know That I Wasn’t Unfair To Starbucks And Howard Schultz

Starbucks Quiz

If the Starbucks “Race Together” campaign had turned out to be carefully thought out, intelligent, sophisticated and responsible, and not  a facile, condescending and cynical effort to promote a brand while creating static and white noise in the midst of an important cultural discussion, I would be obligated to apologize for doubting CEO Howard Schultz’s wisdom and ethics. It would also have been an apology I would have enjoyed making.

Sadly, I was not only correct in my assessment that this was a fiasco in the making, I was more correct than I suspected. Above is the “Race Relations Reality Check ” quiz that Starbucks has reportedly been distributing. The questions indicate a bottom-of-the-well level of comprehension about race and racism, not to mention demographics, culture and the human species. It appears that Starbucks favors some kind of affirmative action program on personal friendships, and believes that one can measure racism or incipient bias by how many individuals of other races one has regular contact with. I don’t even want to have a discussion with someone this shallow. A whole corporation this shallow is a nauseating thing to contemplate. A corporation this shallow that presumes to lead a national discussion on race is, oh I don’t know—Risible? Sad? Dangerous?

Starbucks seems to be thinking like George Costanza, during the period where he was trying to acquire black friends and managed to annoy and insult every African-American he met. The presumptions here are staggering, and so directly contrary to life, logic and the realities of human existence that i get angry just reading them. I was at an ethics conference in Nigeria, and met some of the most intelligent, charming, passionate people I have ever encountered in my life. I would be honored and enriched to have any of them in my life, and would hope that I could develop close friendships with them—but I can’t, because I live in the U.S. and they live in about 15 African nations, and it’s just too darn expensive to dine at each others’ homes. I live in an area, Northern Virginia, that is overwhelmingly white, not because it is white, but because it is convenient to my work and we found a great deal on a house. I work in two fields, theater and ethics, that do not afford a lot of contact with African Americans. The last time we had anyone other than immediate family to dinner was a decade or more ago; the last time anyone other than family, black or white, had us to dinner was longer ago than that—and I am a delightful dinner companion. Continue reading

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Ethics Observations on Starbuck’s “Put Your Customer On The Spot” Program

Race together

Beginning this week, Starbucks baristas will have the option of handing coffee cups to customers on which the Starbucks employee has written the words “Race Together” as an invitation to start a discussion about race in America. Friday, each copy of USA Today will have the first of a series of insert with information about race relations, including a variety of perspectives on race. Starbucks coffee shops will also stock the insert.

Good golly Miss Molly. Where to begin? Continue reading

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Ethical Quote Of The Month: Jonathan Capehart…Big Whoop.

Hands up 3

“Now that black lives matter to everyone, it is imperative that we continue marching for and giving voice to those killed in racially charged incidents at the hands of police and others. But we must never allow ourselves to march under the banner of a false narrative on behalf of someone who would otherwise offend our sense of right and wrong. And when we discover that we have, we must acknowledge it, admit our error and keep on marching. That’s what I’ve done here.”

—— African-American Washington Post blogger and MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capehart in a Post column acknowledging that the “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” chant, hashtag, protest motto and refrain was based on the lies of Dorian Johnson.

This is unusual: a statement embodying ethical principles that arises entirely out of an unethical, unprofessional and untrustworthy world view.

It is a credit to Capehart that he has the integrity to openly admit he was wrong when the facts finally penetrated his biased, bigoted, unethically-motivated brain. He is certainly more admirable than the politicians and journalists of the left and the civil rights movement who still refuse to admit it, like Capehart’s MSNBC colleague and perpetually Angry Progressive Lawrence O’Donnell. It’s good that he apologized, in the sense that it’s better than if he didn’t, but if he were aligned with ethical advocates and advocates, his apology would be unnoticed among thousands of others. Capehart’s ability to process and admit what was, or should have been obvious months ago is not rescued from disgrace because others are even worse.

For the record, Ethics Alarms concluded that “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” was probably false on November 27, 2014. I don’t usually quote myself at length, but after I read Capehart’s much praised, “Well, gol-ly! Knock me over with a feather! Dorian Johnson was lying, and I used what he said to help the media, Al Sharpton and Eric Holder convince African-Americans that whites are out to kill unarmed black men! Ooopsie! My bad!” column, I gagged, and went back and read this:

How does the culture, the news media, the civil rights  industry, and politicians determined to benefit by making African-Americans suspicious, paranoid, racist and, of course, lifetime Democrats, make amends for this? How do they undo the damage to mutual trust and American society?

Obviously they don’t. They don’t even try. In fact, all indications are that they will refuse to acknowledge that the entire, national effort to portray the tragic confrontation between Michael Brown and Officer Wilson as a race-triggered execution was based on a lie that was presumed to be accurate despite much reason to doubt it.

The original claim that Brown was shot and killed after putting his hands in the air came from his friend and partner in crime, Dorian Johnson. Johnson, who already had a record of lying to police, was with Brown prior to the August 9 confrontation, and had joined him in the petty robbery that occurred just before Brown’s arrest. In his TV interviews  after the shooting, Johnson said that Wilson shot Brown in the back, causing him to turn around with his hands up, pleading, ‘I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!’ Before the grand jury, Johnson, who admitted that he hid during the incident and later ran home to change clothes so he wouldn’t be identified, even elaborated and provided minute details to his fabrication, stating under oath that the shot in his back caused Brown’s body to “do like a jerking movement, not to where it looked like he got hit in his back, but I knew, it maybe could have grazed him, but he definitely made a jerking movement.” The forensic evidence showed that Brown was not shot in the back.

Other witnesses concocted similar testimony demonizing Wilson after hearing the media’s credulous accounts based on Brown’ friend’s claims. One told the FBI that he saw Wilson shoot Brown in the back and then stand over his prone body to “finish him off.” In front of the grand jury, however, this witness acknowledged that he had not seen that part of the shooting. He explained that the false story he told the FBI was “based on me being where I’m from, and that can be the only assumption that I have.”

Sort of like Democrats have to believe such false narratives because the presence of deadly, virulent racism is core to the party’s appeal to African American voters…

Then, he admitted,  he changed his story to fit details of the autopsy once it was reported on TV.  “So it was after you learned that the things you said you saw couldn’t have happened that way, then you changed your story about what you seen?’ a prosecutor asked. “Yeah, to coincide with what really happened,” the witness replied.

Members of the community, activists, anti-police zealots and those who had observed how effective the Trayvon Martin hoodie symbolism had been in casting George Zimmerman as a racist killer (rather than as he was subsequently shown to be, an irresponsible, unbiased jerk) immediately seized on the gesture as a powerful protest symbol. Every time it was repeated in a protest or demonstration, it was Johnson’s lie multiplied, until the narrative that Officer Wilson shot an unarmed, unresisting teenaged black male who was pleading to live was imbedded in the American mind. Of course it was murder! Of course any system that does not immediately charge the rogue police officer with murder is corrupt and flawed.

I have had conversations with well-intentioned liberals in denial,who are obviously unable to think of what occurred in Ferguson any other way. Such frustrating conversations. As in the Martin case, they want the white shooter to be guilty of racism and brutality. The fact that no clear evidence will show that, as the grand jury found out, doesn’t dissuade them, even though they would nod vigorously if activists argued that prosecutors displayed racism by indicting any black suspect when eye-witness testimony was unreliable.

Oh, it is true that their confusion is compounded by not understanding what a grand jury does, or hearing references to the quote that a prosecutor can make a grand jury “indict a ham sandwich” (not recognizing that this was a criticism, or perhaps having no more regard for a young policeman’s life than they do a ham sandwich, because, you know, white cop), and that they have been conditioned to believe from their SDS veteran professors from the Sixties that police officers are not public servants but really diabolical agents of an overbearing state—not that they don’t want an overbearing state in most matters, just not where public safety…okay, it’s complicated!). Still, what most nourishes their fervor now—how I love being told that I am taking my cues from Fox News!—is the indelible image of young, frightened, unarmed Mike Brown, with his hands in the air.

How does Darren Wilson get his career, reputation and life back after a lie is promoted as fact by the media, and ruthlessly used by race-hucksters to destroy him while escalating racial distrust? How does the culture recover from this deep, self-inflicted wound?

It is not the criminal justice system that is so in need of repair, but our system of communicating important events to the public, so that bias doesn’t overwhelm truth, and we will be able to forge the right lessons from tragedies like Michael Browns death, not false lessons that leave us more ignorant, hateful, and afraid.

How was I able to write that four months ago, and Capehart is only capable of comprehending it now? It’s simple, really: I’m not an anti-white bigot, and he is.  I had no horse in this race: I was just trying to weigh the facts. I don’t have a stake, politically, racially or socially, in proving that Mike Brown was just an innocent kid hunted down and shot in the street like a dog, or proving that Office Wilson was a model police officer. Capehart didn’t pay attention to the evidence because it was a white Prosecuting Attorney who produced it, and a black—sorry, thug—who contradicted it, as a black Attorney General behaved and spoke as if he believed the thug.

Now Capehart is a believer, and why? He is a believer because the Justice Department run by that black Attorney General had to grudgingly admit that there were zero facts to support the lie that it desperately, urgently wanted to be true, so Darren Wilson could be crucified to expiate white America’s sins against the black man….and, not so incidentally, gin up black votes for the Democratic base.  Now Capehart trusts the facts, because a black AG, not a white one, endorses them.

Well, to hell with him, frankly. Why are anti-white racists with Capehart’s biases writing for the Washington Post? Must there be a black racist slot on the op-ed page now? I didn’t notice: did Obama’s EEOC pass that regulation? The New York Times has Charles Blow, and so the Post must have at least one too? Is there a black racist pundit arms race?

Who is going to apologize to Darren Wilson? Capehart didn’t do that; after all, Wilson is white. Capehart doesn’t care about whites, but wants to clear the record so future protests against police, Ferguson and white America aren’t weakened by reliance on a lie. Where are the apologies to Robert McCulloch, that presumptively racist Prosecuting Attorney who was able to avoid the lynch mob’s demands that Wilson be tried for murder by running a grand jury that got to see all the evidence for once, the scum. How dare he? Van Jones, who is treated as a respectable, rational pundit on CNN and ABC, told the latter that “If there had been a special prosecutor in Ferguson, we would have had a different result.” And we all know that a different result would be the right thing, meaneth Van. To my knowledge, Van hasn’t apologized either. I’ll lay odds that he won’t. Neither has the former governor of Massachusetts, prominently mentioned as a possible presidential candidate once Democrats finally admit that Hillary is hopeless: Deval Patrick told Meet the Press that he wanted to see Wilson indicted regardless of the facts. Nor Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta, who told Meet the Press that justice meant trying Wilson for murder, based on seeing the case through the eyes of Brown’s parents, the individuals whose confirmation bias most powerfully compelled them to believe the self-serving lies of their baby boy’s pal.

Two police officers are dead, two more have been shot, uncounted whites have been targeted and beaten by angry blacks (the Justice Department hasn’t been interested in the racial implications of those attacks), Ferguson is in ruins, innocent businesses are destroyed, Darren Wilson is in hiding, and racial distrust across the U.S. is worse than it has been in decades, not entirely but substantially because people like Jonathan Capehart wanted to believe Dorian Johnson’s lie, because it fits their ideological, political, social and racial agenda. So they did.

Admitting a wrongdoing—not a mistake, but wrongdoing— is always commendable, but when it comes after such carnage, and so inexcusably late, my applause is going to not only be faint, but suffused with disgust.

______________________
Graphic: Washington Post

 

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The Unethical Cosby Victim: Jewel Allison

accuser

The thirty or so declared victims of sexual assault by Bill Cosby (sorry: when we get into double figures, “alleged” is misleading) have given various reasons for not reporting the crimes against them: fear of Cosby’s power, fear of retribution from the entertainment industry, fear of publicity, fear of not being believed, fear of humiliation. A recent addition to the list, however, has given an unequivocally unethical explanation for her 20 year silence in a Washington Post op-ed that has been called “courageous.” Jewell Allison’s confession is not courageous. It is disturbing and ominous. It shows what the trauma of the black experience in the United States has done to some African Americans, causing them to place group identification above reason, decency, good citizenship, compassion and common sense.

She writes:

“When I first heard Andrea Constand and Tamara Green publicly tell their stories about being drugged and assaulted by Cosby, I wasn’t relieved; I was terrified. I knew these women weren’t fabricating stories and conspiring to destroy America’s favorite dad, but I did not want to see yet another African American man vilified in the media. As I debated whether to come forward, I struggled with where my allegiances should lie – with the women who were sexually victimized or with black America, which had been systemically victimized.”

This makes no ethical sense or rational sense. Continue reading

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Sooner Ethics Quiz: Abuse Free Speech Rights, Or Ignore Them?

David Boren, the president of the University of Oklahoma, announced that two students would be expelled from the school for leading a racist chant that was preserved on a video and went viral on YouTube. The video shows tuxedo-clad men from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity  on a bus chanting :

There will never be a nigger at SAE
There will never be a nigger at SAE
You can hang him from a tree
But he’ll never sign with me
There will never be a nigger at SAE

Who would want to be in a house with these assholes?

 The national fraternity apologized and closed the OU chapter. That was a proper response. (Tell me again what’s good about fraternities.) First Amendment specialist Eugene Volokh, however, pointed out on his blog that the expulsion was unconstitutional:

First, racist speech is constitutionally protected, just as is expression of other contemptible ideas; and universities may not discipline students based on their speech. That has been the unanimous view of courts that have considered campus speech codes and other campus speech restrictions …The same, of course, is true for fraternity speech, racist or otherwise…Likewise, speech doesn’t lose its constitutional protection just because it refers to violence — “You can hang him from a tree,” “the capitalists will be the first ones up against the wall when the revolution comes,” “by any means necessary” with pictures of guns, “apostates from Islam should be killed.”

To be sure, in specific situations, such speech might fall within a First Amendment exception. One example is if it is likely to be perceived as a “true threat” of violence (e.g., saying “apostates from Islam will be killed” or “we’ll hang you from a tree” to a particular person who will likely perceive it as expressing the speaker’s intention to kill him); but that’s not the situation here, where the speech wouldn’t have been taken by any listener as a threat against him or her. Another is if it intended to solicit a criminal act, or to create a conspiracy to commit a criminal act, but, vile as the “hang him from a tree” is, neither of these exceptions are applicable here, either.

Hey, Oklahoma…Rodgers and Hammerstein just called. They’re officially changing the name of the musical and the song to “North Dakota!”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz:

Which is the greater ethics breach: the students abusing their First Amendment rights, or the University of Oklahoma violating them?

Continue reading

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