Category Archives: Religion and Philosophy

Ethics Dunce: Radio Talk Show Host Bryan Fischer

To be fair, I guess it's possible that Fischer captured a leprechaun who granted him three wishes, in which case his prescription for ending AIDS isn't crazy after all. So I may owe him an apology...

To be fair, I guess it’s possible that Fischer captured a Leprechaun who granted him three wishes, in which case his prescription for ending AIDS isn’t crazy after all. So I may owe him an apology…

When ideology, including religion, requires one to abandon all connection to reality, unethical positions are sure to follow.  Christian conservative talk show host Bryan Fisher launched an angry rant over what he called President Obama’s promotion of sexual deviancy in his remarks following the downing of MH17 over the Ukraine. Here are the relevant remarks by the President:

“Let me close by making one additional comment. On board Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17 there were apparently near 100 researchers and advocates traveling to an international conference in Australia dedicated to combating AIDS/HIV. These were men and women who had dedicated their own lives to saving the lives of others, and they were taken from us in a senseless act of violence.

In this world today we shouldn’t forget that in the midst of conflict and killing, there are people like these, people who are focused on what can be built rather than what can be destroyed, people who are focused on how they can help people that they’ve never met, people that define themselves not by what makes them different from other people but by the humanity that we hold in common. It’s important for us to lift them up and to affirm their lives. And it’s time for us to heed their example.

The United States of America is going to continue to stand for the basic principle that people have the right to live as they choose, that nations have the right to determine their own destiny, and that when terrible events like this occur, the international community stands on the side of justice and on the side of truth.”

Now here is Fischer’s reaction: Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Citizenship, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Religion and Philosophy, Research and Scholarship, Rights

Unethical Political Ad Of The Month: The Freedom From Religion Foundation

FFRF

If it accomplished nothing else, the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision is doing a dandy job of flushing out the bigots. First it was the feminists blaming the decision on the all-male majority…because, as we all know, only women can balance ethical and legal conflicts fairly and intelligently, and they are incapable of bias. This line of attack is gender bigotry, acceptable because, well, just because. Then Harry Reid, leader of the Senate majority, condemned the five justices whose analysis prevailed as white males, adding racial bias to the mix. Also stupidity, of course, since last I looked, Justice Thomas was still black. Then again, to hear Harry and his friends tell it, being a conservative and not folding up like a deck chair any time women or a minority group complains means that you must be white, meaning that you must be bigoted against women. That’s just what whites are like. And males. Says white male Harry Reid.

It’s a strange, strange world we live in, no doubt about that.

Now comes the Freedom From Religion Foundation with an ad published in the New York Times blaming the decision on the fact that the five justices in the majority were male and Roman Catholic. Anti-Catholic bigotry! I confess, I didn’t know what religion the justices were, because I don’t care. Do you? John Kerry is a Roman Catholic; so is Joe Biden. It never occurred to me to attribute their various decisions and policy determinations to their religion, or to presume that anyone’s religion is fair game for criticism. Ah, but this is blood politics as defined by today’s culture. The right people can use bigotry against deserving targets….you know. Conservatives. Continue reading

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Filed under Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Religion and Philosophy

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 Tools: “A Theory of Jerks”

Actually, no. The OTHER kind...

Actually, no. The OTHER kind…

In Aeon Magazine last month, philosophy professor Eric Schwitzgebel provided a serious essay on the nature of “jerkitude.” It is also an excellent essay, and useful. “Jerk” is a designation that I have occasion to use frequently on Ethics Alarms, and for the most part, Schwitzgebel convinced me that I have been using it properly. Some excerpts… Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Religion and Philosophy, Research and Scholarship

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Bill Bigelow

FireworksHistory5

“The pretend war of celebratory fireworks thus becomes part of a propaganda campaign that inures us—especially the children among us—to current and future wars half a world away.”

Former teacher and current Howard Zinn disciple Bill Bigelow, in a jaw-dropping screed titled “Rethinking the Fourth of July”

Revolting and hateful right wing radio host Michale Savage authored an appropriately revolting and hateful book titled “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder.” That kind of marginalization of dissenting opinions apes the tactic of recent totalitarian regimes, which often subjected political enemies to forced hospitalization as “insane.” Extreme ideological zealotry that refuses to acknowledge either the good faith or the possible virtues of opposing views is anathema to a functioning democracy, and the fact that we have a toxic amount of such zealotry right now is one of the reason our government isn’t working very well.  Nonetheless, when I read a statement like the quote above, I cannot help but ponder how any rational individual reaches the point where he would think such a sentiment was worth publicizing. I think it is a form of ideology-sparked derangement. That doesn’t mean that liberalism is a mental disorder. It may mean that intense indoctrination in leftist (or conservative) cant leads to progressive derangement.

How does someone come to see the colorful spectacle of fireworks as “pretend war”? The invention of fireworks predated the use of bombs as weapons. They are an art form, and nothing more nor less. All right, they are also fun. (Can’t have that.) Seeing celebratory firework displays as indoctrination requires a paranoid view of one’s country and the world.  Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, History, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society, War and the Military

Apology Of The Year Nominee: Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep

JESSICA_URBINAIn May, I wrote about the wretched treatment of student Jessica Urbina by her high school, Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep in San Francisco. Jessica was humiliated by the school when it refused to include her graduation photo in the class yearbook on the grounds that she had worn a tuxedo rather than a dress. I wrote…

“The rule is sexist, archaic, unthinking, prejudicial, arbitrary, cruel and wrong. The best way to change a rule that is sexist, archaic, unthinking, prejudicial, arbitrary, cruel and wrong is to break it, and see if those in charge have the sense and compassion to do the right thing. The administrators of Sacred Heart Cathedral High School flunked. I doubt that Jessica was even trying to provoke a confrontation: like any normal student, she wanted her image in the most important piece of memorabilia of her high school years to accurately portray her as she was, not as some alien ideal dictated by the Catholic Church. There was nothing to be achieved by banning the photo.”

It turns out that by the time I had discovered the story and commented on it, Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep had already reversed its decision. It wouldn’t normally garner much praise here for that: we have seen legions of stories of schools taking cruel, mean-spirited and idiotic measures against innocent students and then back-tracking later, only because the publicity and public backlash became too toxic. In this case, however, the school announced its reversal with an apology of unusual sincerity and grace, which I will reprint in its entirety: Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Quotes, Religion and Philosophy

Some Ethics Comments On The SCOTUS Hobby Lobby Decision

Hobby-Lobby1. First, read the decision, here. When you do, you will be disgusted at the blatant exaggerations and outright misrepresentations by various pundits, advocates, activists and reporters. In the case of the latter, this is incompetence and a breach of duty to the public. In the case of the rest, it is either dishonesty and willful deception, or stupidity. For example, as an exercise, count the number of misrepresentations and misstatements inherent in this tweet, from MSNBC ‘s Cenk Uygur:

 “I love that conservatives are now on the record as against contraception. Brilliant move to be against 99% of women!”

I count five, but I could be off by one or two. Is this genuine misunderstanding, or just intentional rabble-rousing? Who can tell, with shameless partisans like Cenk? Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, The Internet, U.S. Society

If This Chase Survey Is Real, Here Is How Employees Are Ethically Obligated To Respond To It…

Did an intern snap???

Did an intern snap???

I was going to shut down the blog for today, but I’m alone in a hotel room in Lincoln Nebraska, and I just saw this, to which I must respond..

Over at Mirror of Justice, Robert George posts a report which he says is from a close friend: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society, Workplace

Here’s A Solution To Five Guys’ Legal Problem: Stop Deceiving Customers

Hot Dog

Darren Smith, one of the less-circumspect guest-bloggers that law professor Jonathan Turley inexplicably entrusts his blog to on weekends, wrote a post critical of Washington State for a law criminalizing the advertising of food as “Kosher-Style” when it is not, in fact, kosher.

Maybe he’s just a big fan of the offending restaurant chain he highlights, Five Guys, and is thinking with his stomach. Otherwise, he has no excuse for essentially giving a pass to intentional misrepresentation and fraudulent advertising as “no big deal.” Smith writes:

“Your author visited a Five Guys restaurant in Washington and did note that the “Kosher Style” hot dogs are cooked on the same grill as the beef, which would be a mixing of kosher and non-kosher foods in the making of the end product….The company has made an effort, on the company website at least, to note that these hot dogs are in the style of kosher and not actually kosher, but this might not be enough in Washington….There are numerous examples of products in the U.S. economy that use the word “Style” to declare that the food product is not actually as pure as might be expected of a product marketed without the word “Style”. Some examples might be “Artisan style breads” or “Honey style sauce” and do not necessarily break Washington’s, other states’ or Federal consumer protection laws. Yet Washington’s legislature decided that “style” was not enough with regard to differentiating kosher foods with non-kosher. It is either Pure or Not-Pure, and criminalized violations….It is certainly difficult to operate a business in numerous states having often greatly varied laws and administrative codes and when serving something as ordinary as a hot dog might possibly constitute a crime; it can make any business worry. Five Guys likely just wants to provide a menu its customers enjoy.”

Elsewhere in the article, Smith acknowledges that for certain religions eating non-kosher food can be “quite significant,” yet he pooh-poohs the effort of Washington legislators to stop establishments like Five Guys from using deceitful language to suggest that food is kosher when it isn’t. Disclaimers on websites and even menus come under the category of “fine print,” like “results not typical” in diet aid ads. Here’s a useful ethics tip: if you have to explain why your misleading description isn’t really misleading,  a) it’s misleading, and b) you know it. All Five Guys has to do to take itself out of legal peril is to stop misleading its customers. Smith, however, thinks the problem is the law. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Religion and Philosophy, The Internet

A New “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” For Conservative Politicians? You Wish, Jennifer Rubin…

creationismOne of the Washington Post’s rare conservative columnists has a solution for GOP candidates and office holders whose views on some subjects are likely to make them targets of furious criticism: refuse to express them. She writes in her latest column:

“Not everything is a political issue, nor one on which politicians have any particular insight. Candidates are not asked their views on divorce, for example. Each state has laws on the topic, and one’s religious views aren’t a topic for public debate. It is not (and shouldn’t be) asked of nor answered by politicians…Creationism? Unless you are running for school board and intend to be guided by your religious convictions, it does not matter. Born again? None of my business.

“…[Q]uestions about creationism, gay marriage, the nature of homosexuality and other value-specific questions serve no purpose other than to provide targets for faux outrage. These questions are designed to divide the population into believers and nonbelievers, between those who share the same cultural touchstones and those who differ.

“If a topic has no relevance to public policy or character or fitness to serve, why ask the question and why answer it? We aren’t electing pastors, family counselors or philosophers; we’re electing politicians whose job description and qualifications don’t include a great many topics. If we are heading for a more tolerant society, we have to agree to disagree on some issues and to respect some realm of private opinion and faith. For Republicans running in 2016, I would suggest a simple response to the sort of question intended to provoke divisiveness over irrelevant topics: “I can’t think of a single instance in which [creationism/the origin of homosexuality] would be relevant. I’m not here to sow division or take sides in faith-based debates. Let’s talk about something germane to the presidency.”

Wrong.

Incredibly wrong. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Education, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy, Science & Technology