Category Archives: Religion and Philosophy

Seven Ethics Observations On The Josh Duggar Child Molestation Revelations

19 kids

Yes, this is an Ethics Train Wreck.

First, some background:

“19 Kids and Counting” is another reality show featuring the exploitation of children for their parents fame and profit broadcast by the  cable channel TLC, the same shameless bunch that bought us “Jon and Kate Plus 8″ and the trashy Honey Boo-Boo Bunch.It began as “17 Kids and Counting,” became “18 Kids and Counting,” and but for this emerging fiasco, might have kept adding numbers, and little unpaid performers,  ad infinitum.  The show featured the godly, conservative, fertile Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their nine girls and ten boys, all of whose names begin with the letter “J.” Since the show began, three of the children have been married and several grandchildren have been born. The series began on September 29, 2008.  February 17, 2015 marked Season 10.

In response to emerging reports that oldest son Dugger son Josh, now 27, was once accused of molesting five underage girls as a teen, Josh Duggar, his wife Anna, and his parents Jim Bob and Michelle jointly explained the circumstances, which had not been revealed outside the family until now. “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends,” Josh said  in a statement. “I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”

Josh then resigned from his position at the Family Research Council.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar had this to say about their son:

“Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes, and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before. Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles every day. It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us – even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey – the good times and the difficult times – cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything.”

TLC cancelled the show. It said, on its Facebook page,

“Effective immediately, TLC has pulled all episodes of 19 Kids and Counting currently from the air. We are deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time”

Then GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee issued his own Facebook statement in support of Josh and the family:

“Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’ He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things. The reason that the law protects disclosure of many actions on the part of a minor is that the society has traditionally understood something that today’s blood-thirsty media does not understand—that being a minor means that one’s judgement is not mature. No one needs to defend Josh’s actions as a teenager, but the fact that he confessed his sins to those he harmed, sought help, and has gone forward to live a responsible and circumspect life as an adult is testament to his family’s authenticity and humility. Those who have enjoyed revealing this long ago sins in order to discredit the Duggar family have actually revealed their own insensitive bloodthirst, for there was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed—not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims. Janet and I love Jim Bob and Michelle and their entire family. They are no more perfect a family than any family, but their Christian witness is not marred in our eyes because following Christ is not a declaration of our perfection, but of HIS perfection. It is precisely because we are all sinners that we need His grace and His forgiveness. We have been blessed to receive God’s love and we would do no less than to extend our love and support for our friends. In fact, it is such times as this, when real friends show up and stand up. Today, Janet and I want to show up and stand up for our friends. Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support.”

Observations: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Religion and Philosophy

“Piss Christ” and Garland

Piss-Christ

Ethics Alarms participant Other Bill raised “Piss Christ” on the comment thread to my post about the Garland, Texas attack, progressives’ and news media’s “hate speech isn’t free speech” confusion, and Geller’s supporters’ “gratuitously uncivil speech is laudable” delusion. He posted a column by George Parry, published under the heading “Think Tank” on a Philadelphia site. I’m grateful to Bill for raising the column, which he neither endorsed nor criticized. Titled Double Standard on Offending Christians and Muslims, Parry’s argument was…

  • “Christians objected to “Piss Christ” and the feces-covered Holy Virgin. And they rightfully wondered why their tax dollars had been used to promote these blasphemies. But their objections and questions were condescendingly dismissed by the secular left in the media and intelligentsia. …
  • “As if in one voice, the mainstream media and self-anointed intelligentsia argued that antiquated religious sensitivities must not be allowed to interfere with either an artist’s free expression or his right to government funding regardless of how offensive his work may be to Christians….”
  • “In Garland, Texas, on Sunday, two radical Muslims died trying to replicate the Charlie Hebdo massacre by mounting an armed attack on a “draw Mohammed” cartoon contest. We are not talking about drawings of Mohammed dunked in urine or smeared with animal dung. No, the gunmen apparently deemed the mere drawing of Mohammed to be an offense punishable by death…The overall media consensus has been to blame the intended murder victims for recklessly provoking the terrorists. Such provocation, we are told, is unacceptable and irresponsible behavior given the risk of retaliation by offended radical Muslims…”
  • “Better to question the wisdom of cartoonists exercising their rights than to acknowledge and vigorously confront and expose the elephant in the room, i.e., that there is a disturbingly large number of radical Muslims in this country who oppose our Constitution and who believe that murder is an appropriate sanction for those who offend Islam….”
  • “All of which leads to this question: Given their pusillanimous double standard, why should any reasonable or serious person believe, respect, or credit the self-serving mainstream media?”

That’s not the question. First of all, there is already no reason to believe, respect, or credit the mainstream media. Second, while Parry is correct that the analysis of the issues in the Garland attack have been largely incompetent and tainted by media dislike of Geller and journalism’s own cowardice (most news outlets were afraid to show the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, even though they were essential to reporting on the Paris massacre), his analogy with “Piss Christ” is no better.

The questions areContinue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Etiquette and manners, Journalism & Media, Religion and Philosophy, Rights

The Garland, Texas Shooting, Free Speech and Ethics

Geller: Like it or not, the First Amendment was designed for her and people like her: infuriating people.

Geller: Like it or not, the First Amendment was designed for her and people like her: infuriating people.

Last Sunday, two men opened fire outside uber-Islam-hater Pamela Geller’s “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” in Garland, Texas. Both gunmen were killed by police, a security guard was wounded. Since cartoons of the Prophet have sparked killings around the globe, this was a risk, if not an inevitability, of holding such an event. That was undoubtedly one of the reasons for it, in fact: to show defiance of those that would cow us into self-censorship.

Since the episode, commentators and pundits have engaged in various levels of  confused ethical thought regarding the competition and the shooting, much of the confusion due to cognitive dissonance regarding Geller, who is beyond question an anti-Muslim bigot. So horrible is it to their delicate liberal sensibilities to have the principle of freedom of speech represented by Geller that rather than accept it, many would prefer to jettison freedom of speech itself. In this they seem to have forgotten that the reason for free speech is precisely to protect the most infuriating, inflammatory, controversial speakers, whether they be hateful fanatics like Geller, or Martin Luther King.

It really is remarkable that the First Amendment has survived so long, since those who discuss it in public the most frequently are journalists and politicians, neither of whom are consistently able to interpret it accurately.

Ethically, this isn’t hard, or shouldn’t be. In fact, not a single new issue is raised by the Texas shooting that was not thoroughly covered here five years ago:

1. No group, no matter how offended or righteous and no matter what its holy book says, is ethically entitled to threaten violence against those who say, or draw, things that they find offensive, including the offense of blasphemy.

2. Encouraging such groups to do this by self-censoring is cowardly and a threat to free speech. Thus South Park and Comedy Central breached their duties to the nation, the culture and free speech by censoring a satirical animated series after receiving radical Islamic threats. As I wrote here: Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, U.S. Society

Swastika Ethics: 8 Observations On The George Washington University “Hate Crime”

swastika

I was recently reminded about the origins of the Nazi swastika, ironically enough, during the Cincinnati funeral service of my dear friend, Georgetown classmate,  lawyer and patriot Mitchell Dale, who died last summer. Looking down during a prayer, I was startled to see the Hindu version of the symbol in a mosaic imbedded in the church floor.

Oddly, the pastor and mourners weren’t arrested.

Yet last month, an unnamed Jewish student placed a small, bronze, Indian swastika on the bulletin board of his Jewish fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau, in the university’s International House. The building had recently been the target of an unidentified vandal who drew three swastikas on the walls. After posting the swastika, the student stayed close to the bulletin board, intending to discuss it and the previous vandalism with observers. He briefly stepped away, unfortunately for him, and during that period a member of the student’s fraternity saw the swastika and called GWU’s campus police. They  filed a report and took the swastika as evidence. When the student found out the police had been called, he immediately came forward to authorities and said that he had posted the  image to spark a conversation about the ancient symbol, cultural appropriation, messages, perception…as in what used to be called “education.” He said he did not intend to offend anyone, noting in doing so that this was an Indian swastika, not a Nazi one. He had just returned from studying religion in India, and said he became fascinated by the idea that a symbol that was not one of hate could become so defined by hate.

GWU suspended the student and evicted him from university housing pending the outcome of five disciplinary charges. The university also kicked him off campus, and referred the incident to the District of Columbia police for investigation as a potential “hate crime.” He could face expulsion.

Ethics observations:

1. FIRE, Freedom for Individual Rights in Education, is on the case. Thank you, FIRE. FIRE Program Officer and attorney Ari Cohn wrote,

“GWU may not ignore thousands of years of history and effectively forbid all uses of the swastika because it was used by Nazi Germany. It’s ironic that the charges against the student illustrate the very point he was trying to make in the first place—that context is important and there’s much to be learned about the history of the swastika.”

2. Now the Hindu American Foundation is protesting as well. This is the wonderful aspect of diversity, and a warning to institutions and diversity hounds that diversity must cut in all directions, or is a sham. It is discriminatory for a university to demonize and censor an aspect of a world religion’s symbology and culture. Do you think the administrators at GW sufficiently understood this, or just didn’t care, going with what they perceived as the most powerful interest group?

3. The George Washington fiasco comes in the wake of other  colleges  responding to anti-Semitic swastika vandalism, but that shouldn’t have mattered. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce: GoFundMe

“DESTROY THE EVIL CAKE DISCRIMINATORS!!!!”

If GoFundMe isn’t going to have the integrity to avoid taking sides in complex political and cultural disputes, it is functionally useless.

Perhaps it should change its title to “GoFundMyPoliticallyCorrectCause.”

Pusillanimous GoFundMe caved in to pressure from vindictive gay marriage activists and pulled the crowdfunding campaign on the site that had raised more than $109,000 for the Christian-owned bakery,  Sweet Cakes by Melissa.

The cake shop in Gresham, Oregon, became ground zero for the same-sex marriage debate  in January 2013, when it turned away customers who wanted cakes for a same-sex wedding. The spurned couple filed a complaint to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, claiming their civil rights under the Oregon Equality Act had been infringed. In defense, the owners of the business stated that they  refused to cater  the wedding because of their religious beliefs, and thus their decision was protected by the U.S. Constitution. They subsequently closed the shop, and carried out their business from home. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries proposed a damages award Friday of $135,000 against Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners, for being in violation of the state’s anti-discrimination law. The award, which is not final, would provide $60,000 in damages to Laurel Bowman-Cryer and $75,000 in damages to Rachel Bowman-Cryer for “emotional suffering stemming directly from unlawful discrimination.”

After taking down the page raising money for the bakery in the belief that they have been unfairly targeted, victimized and mistreated, GoFundMe said in a statement that the campaign violated the site’s policy against raising money “in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts.”

Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Dunces, Family, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Public Service, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, Romance and Relationships, The Internet, U.S. Society

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Ohio Governor John Kasich

“[T]he most important thing is, what does the Lord want me to do with my life?”

Potential GOP Presidential candidate John Kasich, Governor of Ohio, explaining what considerations will determine whether or not he enters the race.

"Governor? It's for you."

“Governor? It’s for you.”

There is so much wrong with Kasich saying this that the only question now is whether it disqualifies him for elected office.

I guess that’s excessive, though. In a political culture in which Hillary Clinton is considered qualified to be President, almost no one can be truly disqualified. Anything goes, as long as you are wearing the right team colors.

If the Founders knew their democracy would come to this, I think they would have decided to just submit to King George’s tyranny.

Kasich is a skilled governor, just as he was an outstanding House member in a crowd of Republican embarrassments during the Bush years. Then he tried being a talking head for Fox, and had the integrity to quit in disgust. He seemed to have the qualities necessary to elevate the Republican presidential field.

Guess not:

1. He is pandering. The GOP evangelicals and religious right have a lot of power and influence, and they are the only ones who could possibly take Kasich’s statement seriously. “Ah!” they will say, or so Kasich’s shameless advisors have convinced him, “He’s one of us! He believes that weather disasters are visted upon us because of America’s sins! He believes that women belong barefoot and pregnant, that Adam was ducking dinosaurs, that school prayer will cure our ills…that good people ought to be able to shun and exclude the sinful by refusing to sell them services that they provide to everyone else, and that homos are the spawn of Satan.” The statement that Kasich is dictated to by God hints that he thinks a theocracy is hunky-dory. Hey, look at Iran!

2. He is lying. Or he is deranged.

3. The belief that God is likely to choose you as a leader of the most powerful nation on earth is so devoid of humility and so unfair to and disrespectful of the democratic process that it boggles the mind.

4. It avoids personal accountability.

5. The statement is a declaration of incompetence and fecklessness. What other decisions will President Kasich place in God’s hands, or blame on Him when they turn out to be duds?

6. Waiting for God to declare the right course is an intentional abdication of ethics for the moral direction on others, or, if you prefer, Others.

 God made you say that, John, so you would not be President. You have your answer.

Dummy.

 

Read more:

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy

Now THAT Was Moral Luck…

"What the HELL do those idiots think they are doing with that poor kid???"

“What the HELL do those idiots think they are doing with that poor kid???”

Moral luck is the daily phenomenon where the exact same irresponsible  act by an individual can be regarded as cause for condemnation or even criminal penalties, or be shrugged off as a forgivable error in judgment and inconsequential based on turns of fate that the individual has no control over at all. You will see few better examples than this ridiculous story out of Cleveland. Parents visiting the Cleveland zoo dangled their 2-year-old son over the railing of the zoo’s cheetah exhibit,  then dropped the child, apparently accidentally, into the enclosure.The cheetahs wisely decided that the offspring of idiots might not be safe to eat, and made no effort to harm him. The boy’s father rescued the boy by jumping into the exhibit area and taking his son to safety. The boy was injured slightly, but it is likely that the incident will be  treated as an accident, with no consequences for the parents. If, however, the cheetahs had attacked and killed the toddler, the parents would have been prosecuted, and condemned across social media as contenders for worst parents of the year.

It was all up to the cheetahs.

That’s moral luck.

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Filed under Animals, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy