Category Archives: U.S. Society

Unethical High School Assembly Video Of…What? The Month? The Year? Eternity?

This video, purportedly a defense of affirmative action, was mandatory viewing for students at Glen Allen High School in Henrico, Virginia:

This isn’t education. This is anti-American, race-baiting indoctrination, political in intent and orientation, and absolutely irresponsible for use in a high school. This school, of course, has students of both races, so the video also encourages racial distrust, divisions, and hate.

Naturally, many parents object, though I doubt any are objecting more than I would.

The school was unapologetic:

“The students participated in a presentation that involved American history and racial discourse. A segment of the video was one component of a thoughtful discussion in which all viewpoints were encouraged. As always, we are welcoming of feedback from students and their families, and we address concerns directly as they come forward.”

A classic of  double-speak spin from incompetent, power-abusing educators. You don’t teach children about complex issues by reducing them to simple-minded cartoon agitprop, but then, education, however, is not the objective. The clear motives are racial spoils, white guilt, black entitlement, and partisan advantage.

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, History, Race, U.S. Society

Watching the Super Bowl Last Year Was Unethical. This Year It Is Indefensible.

superbowl-50

Next year, it will be close to criminal.

The American public can no longer plead ignorance when it comes to supporting, financing and enabling the cynical exercise in human carnage for cash that is known as professional football. Since the last Super Bowl was played, “Concussion” visited the movie theaters, putting in dramatic form the undeniable facts exposed in the documentary “League of Denial.” Both “Concussion’s” director and its star, Will Smith, have stated in interviews that they don’t think they can enjoy watching football any more.Reaching this conclusion should not require the experience of making a movie  about the facts of the deadly concussion epidemic that the NFL blithely promotes, nor months of bringing to life a script describing how players have been misled and lied to in order to keep them sacrificing their bodies, minds and future to the greedy maw of a billion dollar. It should only require logic, humanity, decency, and bit of sacrifice.

In just the last several days, the casualty list of NFL stars found to have damaged their brains has lengthened significantly.

Former Oakland Raiders star quarterback Ken Stabler’s brain was found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, the concussion-triggered brain disease. A day after that announcement, the late Colts star quarterback Earl Morrall’s brain was found to be similarly damaged.  Stories were published around the same time about former Minnesota Viking linebacker Fred McNeil, who died in November and was also suffering from CTE. He had become a lawyer after his playing days, but began losing his memory and ability to concentrate. He had violent mood swings, and by his mid 40s, had lost his career, his job, his family, and his home. Former NY Giants star and famous broadcaster Frank Gifford died last year: he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy too.

On September 8, former Giants safety Tyler Sash was found dead at age 27 of an accidental overdose of pain medications at his Iowa home.  The results of an autopsy announced at the end of January showed that Sash already had advanced CTE. So did the brain of a 25-year-old former college football player whose brain was discussed in a February article in “Neurology Today.” From the case study:

The case, reported in the January 4 online issue of JAMA Neurology, involved a young man whose cognitive, mood, and behavioral symptoms progressively worsened following a history of 10 concussions incurred while playing football from age 6 till his junior year in college.

The patient completed a neurocognitive battery of tests prior to his death (due to an unrelated cardiac infection) at age 25. Although those tests revealed multiple deficits, and his symptoms steadily worsened for three years after he stopped playing, a consensus panel of clinicians blinded to his pathology report was unable to reach a primary diagnosis of CTE.

“Although CTE was considered,” the report stated, “the lack of delay in symptom onset, his young age, and his family history of depression reasoned against CTE as the primary diagnosis. Consensus members thought that neuropsychological performance, while impaired, did not discriminate postconcussive syndrome or major depression from CTE.”

That pathology report, however, was conclusive for a diagnosis of CTE, based on mild ventricular dilation, hippocampal atrophy, and pathological lesions of hyperphosphorylated tau consisting of neurofibrillary tangles, neurites, and astrocytes around small blood vessels found at the sulcal depths of the frontal and temporal lobes.

It’s not just the NFL that is crippling young men. It’s college football too. Continue reading

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Filed under U.S. Society

In Virginia And D.C., Botching The Complex Relationship Between Law And Ethics

aforadultry

Laws don’t exist merely to do things; they must also stand for the ethical principles that sustain a stable and productive society. Laws create moral codes of conduct as well as a pragmatic ones. It is profoundly puzzling to me that so many regard this as a controversial statement, especially in a country founded by two documents that are steeped in values.

There are laws against stealing to discourage theft, but also because the official voice of society must make it clear what the values of that society are. The laws against stealing state that theft is wrong. The law expresses societal consensus about acceptable and unacceptable conduct; it also reinforces and strengthens that consensus.

The fact that this is a proper function of law doesn’t mean that those who write and pass laws or the public understand any of this. The relationship isn’t taught in schools, and while one might encounter this concept in law school or a good college government or philosophy course, one can be well-educated and never think about this at all. In other words, the officials who make laws often don’t have a clue what they are doing, and neither does anyone else.

Two glaring examples have arisen in my neck of the woods, the District of Columbia, where I work, and Virginia, where I live.

Behold:

In Virginia, Virginia Senate declined to pass a bill that would have decriminalized adultery in the state. Currently, adultery is a Class 4 misdemeanor. Sen. Scott Surovell (D–Fairfax) introduced a measure that would have reduced adultery from a criminal offense to a civil one, keeping the criminal law’s fine of no more than $250. Thirteen states have repealed similar adultery statutes in recent years, and only about a dozen states still treat the act as a crime. The immediate criticism of the Virginia decision was predictable and focused on “legislating morality,” as if that isn’t a legitimate function of law. What critics, usually from the left, mean when they use this catch phrase is “How dare the government interfere with private conduct that is nobody else’s business?” Well, is spousal abuse and child abuse private, then? Bigamy? The reason adultery is illegal is that it hurts people, wrecks families, traumatizes children, and destabilizes society. It is completely appropriate for society to say  “This is bad for everyone, so don’t do it.” The law is how we express such messages. Continue reading

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

Keep It Up, Vulgarians

This morning I was listening to a CNN reporter in New Hampshire interviewing an ordinary, middle aged woman who is a Trump supporter, and she dropped a word inappropriate for TV live. The interviewer said, “You just said a cuss word!” and she just ignored him. In Phoenix, Don Harris, the head of Arizona’s largest NAACP chapter, was discussing the somehow national scandal over six white teenage Desert Vista High School students posting a photo of themselves aligned so the letters on their T-shirts spelled N-I-*-* E-R when he just couldn’t resist saying that a TV reporter who had just interviewed him had “nice tits”as he was speaking to another TV interviewer.

The recording was posted, and Harris had to resign as Chapter president. Called about the incident by another reporter, Harris said, among other things, “I’m really fucking sorry. I’m going to slash my wrists . . . Better yet, I’m going to throw myself out of a fucking window, except I’m on the first floor . . . I’m one of the best goddamned people in the state. They’ve seen me now, they’ve seen what I’ve done. I’ve given up my law practice. I’m down here six, seven days a week. That’s what my commitment is. I support NOW, the women’s organization — goddamn! — are you shitting me? Are you going to write this up?”

Why yes, Don, you vulgar fool, they are.

Harris and the dumb New Hampshire woman (I did say she was a Donald Trump supporter, right?) are victims of the crude and ugly culture of rudeness and incivility being imposed on the culture. If you don’t fight back, you will be sucked in: your civility and decency ethics alarms will become rusted and useless. At the 2016 Golden Globes awards, knowing they were on live TV and in front of an audience of adults, various presenters and award winners used the words cunt, sugar tits, fuck and fucking (twice). Speaking like this in private or controlled workplace surroundings is as old as the hills, but somewhere the principle has been lost in which such gutter discourse was understood to be ugly, lazy and the mark of an unmannerly lout when it leaks into more formal, or public settings. Who thinks this is a positive development? Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Childhood and children, Etiquette and manners, Humor and Satire, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

It’s Just One Small Episode In The Vast Accountability, Integrity And Competence Void That Is The Federal Government, But It May Answer Many Questions…

Kimberly Graves appealing her VA demotion, not because she denies gaming the system and sucking up taxpayer money, but because she feels she should get away with it.

Kimberly Graves, appealing her VA demotion, not because she denies gaming the system and sucking up taxpayer money, but because she feels she should get away with it.

As essential background, please read this excerpt from the Veterans Administration’s inspector general’s report regarding “Inappropriate Use of Position and Misuse of Relocation Program and Incentives,” from last fall:

As part of our assessment of VA’s relocation expense program (PCS program), we reviewed records related to the Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) reassignment of 7 General Schedule (GS) Grade 15 employees who were promoted to Senior Executive Service (SES) positions and 15 SES employees who moved to different SES positions in fiscal years (FYs) 2013, 2014, and 2015. VBA management used moves of senior executives as a method to justify annual salary increases and used VA’s PCS program to pay moving expenses for these employees. Annual salary increases totaled about $321,000, and PCS relocation expenses totaled about $1.3 million. Additionally, VBA paid $140,000 in unjustified relocation incentives. In total, VA spent about $1.8 million on the reassignments. While we do not question the need to reassign some staff to manage a national network of VAROs, we concluded that VBA inappropriately utilized VA’s PCS program for the benefit of its SES workforce.

Ms. Kimberly Graves was reassigned from her position as the Director of VBA’s Eastern Area Office to the position of Director, St. Paul VARO, effective October 19, 2014. VA paid $129,467.56 related to Ms. Graves’ PCS move. We determined that Ms. Graves also inappropriately used her position of authority for personal and financial benefit when she participated personally and substantially in creating the St. Paul VARO vacancy and then volunteering for the vacancy.

Mr. Antione Waller, former St. Paul VARO Director, told us Ms. Graves initiated discussion with him about relocating to the Philadelphia VARO. Once he expressed a willingness to accept the reassignment, she did an apparent “bait and switch.” She told him that the Philadelphia position was no longer available and he would be considered for the Baltimore VARO Director position. When he said he was not willing to move to Baltimore, Ms. Graves told him, “you will probably get another call, this probably won’t be the last conversation about Baltimore.” In an email, Ms. Beth McCoy, who at the time was the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Field Operations and Ms. Rubens’ subordinate, told Ms. Graves that she spoke to Mr. Waller and told him his name was already submitted to the VA Secretary for Baltimore, so “saying no now is not a clean or easy option.” Once the St. Paul Director position was vacant, Ms. Graves said she contacted Ms. Rubens and said, “I’d like to throw my name in for consideration for St. Paul … I feel like I’ve done my time and I’d like to put my name in.”

Ms. Rubens’ and Ms. Graves’ reassignments resulted in a significant decrease in job responsibilities, yet both retained their annual salaries—$181,497 and $173,949, respectively. Based on Federal regulations, we determined VA could not reduce their annual salaries upon reassignment despite the decrease in the scope of their responsibilities. However, a senior executive’s annual salary can be reduced if the individual receives a less than fully successful annual summary rating, fails to meet performance requirements for a critical element, or, as a disciplinary or adverse action resulting from conduct related activity.

We made criminal referrals to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Columbia, regarding official actions orchestrated by Ms. Rubens and Ms. Graves. Formal decisions regarding prosecutorial merit are pending. We provided 12 recommendations to VA to increase oversight of VA’s PCS program and to determine the appropriate administrative actions to take, if any, against senior VBA officials.

Got that? Graves gamed the system to reduce her responsibilities while keeping her salary, and received almost $130,000 in taxpayer money as moving expenses, which, as the rest of the IG’s report documents, are routinely inflated by the VA. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society, Workplace

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Update: The Frontrunners”

Zoltar

Rising Ethics Alarms comment star Zoltar Speaks! has weighed in with a passionate and perceptive comment inspired my recent overview of the ethical bankruptcy among the public’s current top choices to be our next President. Most commentators, even partisan ones, have become sensitive to what ZS describes, though they describe it in differing ways. Here’s a fascinating post on City Journal, giving Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Kennedy’s hagiographer and once influential liberal/Democratic historian credit for predicting the phenomenon:

“Both lament and warning, “The Disuniting of America” reflected a Schlesinger disconcerted by the rise, within overwhelmingly liberal academia, of multiculturalism and political correctness, the linked solvents of American identity. …Trump is both a reaction to and expression of liberal delusions. Schlesinger’s fears have largely come to pass; we’ve become what he called a “quarrelsome spatter of enclaves.” Schlesinger was too much a part of the elite to imagine that the class he always thought of as representing the best of the future would come to be despised by a broad swath of Americans for its incompetence and ineffectuality. But what Schlesinger saw on the horizon seems to have arrived, with no sign of abating: we are in the midst of a soft civil war.”

Government, especially democratic government, relies on trust. Nixon and Watergate exacerbated the decline in trust created by the Vietnam War, then Clinton betrayed the dignity and image of his office to make almost any conduct by the President not just imaginable, but defensible. Sam Donaldson famously said that Clinton would have to resign if the allegation about Monica were true, and he had lied. Sam was right under previous rules, and a President who cared more about the country’s trust than himself would have done as Donaldson predicted.

Next came the completely random catastrophe of the tied 2000 election. Democrats, to their undying shame, employed it as a wedge, and to insist that the election had been stolen, a practice I described at the time as picking at the connective threads of the tapestry of our society. 9-11 was used to suggest that our government would murder its own people; Katrina was used to suggest that our government would allow black people to die because they were black. Bush’s administration blundered into a war, and then into a near-depression—in past generations, these would both be attributed to miscalculations.  But the tapestry, as I warned, was unraveling. Now those mistakes were being seen as deliberate, sinister.Then came Obama, once promising hope and harmony, who has deliberately exacerbated divisions and distrust  to build a political firewall around  his own incompetence. Public trust in government, before the Vietnam protests, was at 73%; it is below 25% today. Of course it is. The question is: Now what?

Here is Zoltar Speaks! in his Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Update: The Frontrunners:

Do you ever get the feeling from the political front-runners in this campaign that this election is primarily being steered towards the elimination of our current political system in favor of something else?

Do you ever get the feeling that illogical social chaos and division among the people is becoming more and more prevalent across the United States and our leaders don’t seem to be spending any of their political capital to slow the trend, instead what we see is rhetoric from our leaders and potential leaders that seems to support illogical social chaos and division among the people?

Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Leadership, U.S. Society

The Crime That Can’t Be Charged: Humiliation And Harm For Money

I hate this topic with a passion. It has come up often: the exploitation of desperate attention-addicts in celebrity reality shows, dwarf-tossing, the ancient pastime of paying geeks and the deformed to present themselves for public ridicule and dehumanizing treatment, and more. The problem is that the phenomenon is indistinguishable from other, societally-approved examples of paying individuals to harm themselves or be humiliated for our entertainment. Pro football, of course, harms more human beings in one game than all the dwarf-tossing since the beginning of time. Child actors are harmed for money, and often they don’t even get the proceeds, or give meaningful consent.

Every example I can imagine feeds directly into the vile Rationalization #22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.” The problem is that all of those worse things are legal, and likely to remain so. Yes, there are worse things than paying a drunk to dance like fool in exchange for a few dollars to buy his next drink, like paying young men millions of dollars to pound their brains into jelly. That’s our national pastime!

And yet—how can a society tolerate this? From the AP...

LAKEWOOD, N.J. (AP) — Police in New Jersey say no charges will be filed after a stranger paid a homeless man $5 to pour coffee on himself twice. Police say that’s because Ronald Leggatt consented even though he was embarrassed. The 65-year-old tells the Asbury Park Press he let a stranger videotape him pouring coffee on his head on Monday in Lakewood because he needed the money….

I wish I had a solution. I’d like to know the name of the scum who did this, but then what? Post his name for vigilante justice? I would argue that there is no valid consent when an individual agrees under duress and desperation, but then what is society saying—that a man can’t exchange a humiliating act for money he desperately needs? Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society