Category Archives: U.S. Society

The Ray Rice Affair: Defending Stephen Smith (and Blaming the Victims Of Domestic Abuse When They Behave Like Rice’s)

The love birds. Luckily, she can take a punch.

The love birds. Luckily, she can take a punch.

I came close to writing about the latest disturbing turn in the Ray Rice affair—the fact that the Baltimore Ravens star’s ugly domestic abuse, caught on a hotel elevator camera, was recently deemed to warrant only a two game suspension by the NFL. I think this is a fairly accurate representation of how seriously that league and a segment of the professional sports culture take the problem of domestic abuse—wait until you hear all the cheers for Rice in his first day back on the field—but I had already registered my disgust at Rice’s lack of sufficient punishment for this incident. Then ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith was pilloried by female pundits for daring to suggest that the victims of domestic abuse sometimes share responsibility for what happens to them, and need to take action to prevent further beatings. ESPN colleague Michelle Beadle, noting that she was once in an abusive relationship, erupted in indignation, saying she “would never feel clean again” after taking reading Smith’s comments, and wrote,”I’m thinking about wearing a miniskirt this weekend…I’d hate to think what I’d be asking for by doing so… “Violence isn’t the victim’s issue. It’s the abuser’s. To insinuate otherwise is irresponsible and disgusting. Walk. Away.”

Of course,  other pundits, websites and blogs followed Beadle’s leaddid you know there’s a war on women?—because you just don’t dare get on the wrong side of this kind of issue. The problem is that in the context of the Ray Rice episode, Smith was making a valid point that is made too seldom because of The Beadle Rule, that women who are abused share no responsibility for their fate, and to even suggest otherwise is proof positive of misogyny. That is a politically correct lie, and Smith should not be attacked for telling the truth, albeit inarticulately. Continue reading

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Filed under Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Romance and Relationships, Sports, U.S. Society

Musings On The Clarence Thomas Affair and Insideous, Unavoidable, Rationalization Eleven

If you are good enough and valuable enough, do you deserve one of these?

If you are good enough and valuable enough, do you deserve one of these?

A recent—and off-topic—comment caused me to begin thinking about “The King’s Pass,” #11 on the Ethics Alarms Rationalization hit parade,and perhaps the most perplexing of them all. The commenter referenced the 2010 discovery that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas had inexplicably neglected to mention his activist wife’s annual income on his annual financial disclosure filings, meaning that he had filed a false affidavit and violated the law. Thomas claimed that he had made a careless mistake—for five years—and the matter was allowed to drop except for the angry agitating of the Anti-Clarence Thomas Furies, who are constantly searching for any way to get a conservative black justice off the Supreme Court short of assassination.

The episode had left a bad taste in my mouth, and I was happy to be reminded of it, bad mouth tastes being essential to triggering ethics alarms. I went back to read my post on the matter, and sure enough, I had followed the principle of rejecting The King’s Pass, and asserted that Thomas should be punished appropriately and formally…but that really ducked the question. Lawyers have lost their licenses to practice for single episodes of swearing to false information when it was far more obvious that a mistake had been made than in Thomas’s case, as when a hapless Maryland lawyer carelessly signed a legal document that had misrecorded  his address. The logic of this no-tolerance ruling was that a lawyer, above all people, should never swear to a falsehood, and that doing so, even once, was a serious breach of duty calling into question his fitness to practice law. I think the penalty for this particular act was excessive—it is cited locally as a cautionary tale—but I agree with its underlying principle, which should apply with even more vigor when the lawyer in question is a judge, and not merely a judge, but a Supreme Court Justice.
Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society

Dear Discovery Channel: Fire Paul Lewis, Or You Will Regret It. Trust Me On This.

The Discovery Channel’s president, Paul Lewis, approved a promotional campaign for the rapidly rotting cable channel’s “Shark Week” that included a fake video, shown above,  intended to “go viral” and convince people that there are sharks in Lake Ontario. After the video prompted the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources  to warn swimmers and anxiety over the shark sighting was expressed in social media, the channel’s ad agency admitted that it was hoax. Some people still don’t believe it’s a hoax, however, because they’ve seen “Jaws.” After all, claiming a real sighting is a hoax to save the tourist season is just the sort of thing Amity Mayor Larry Vaughn would do, right?

Or that equally slimy Paul Lewis would do. Here is his despicable, ethics-free “apology”:

“We didn’t want it to be something that would negatively impact people’s summer…It’s unfortunate that some people took what we did so serious. If we upset anybody, of course I apologize for that. It would be totally counterproductive for us to go out there and upset and disturb our audience.”

First of all, how does someone become president of a communications company who uses “serious” like that? Continue reading

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Filed under U.S. Society

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Rep. John Lewis

open-borders

“We are all connected. We can’t just build a wall or a fence and say no more. This is America. Our doors are open. #AskDems”

--Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), in a tweet that is part of a concerted Democratic effort to announce to the world that U.S. immigration laws will not be enforced.

“The doors are open.”

“The doors are open”???

How can any sensible, honest, objective American read this, from a leader of the Democratic Party, and not be appalled? This is an assertion of open borders, in defiance of U.S. sovereignty. This is an abdication of the rule of law. Go to twitter and search for #AskDems: Lewis’s tweet is the worst, but many of the Democratic leadership are making similar, and similarly irresponsible statements that undermine the effort to stop illegals, including the current torrent of illegal children, from streaming across the border. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership, U.S. Society

John Travolta, Carrie Fisher, and The Ethics of Outing

Mr. and Mrs. John Travolta

Mr. and Mrs. John Travolta

Should it matter if John Travolta is gay? It shouldn’t, no. To say it shouldn’t, however, is not to prove that it doesn’t. In his industry, for all its liberal and progressive grandstanding, the perceived sexuality of leading men does matter, because it is believed that it affects the bottom line. Most important of all, John Travolta doesn’t want the public to know/believe/think that he’s gay.

That alone ends the story, in ethics terms. Revealing this aspect of a private life that the actor has chosen to keep private is entirely his decision to make, and nobody should force him to make it, or make it for him. Therefore, what did actress Carrie Fisher, Hollywood kid, writer, “Star Wars” icon, and former bride of a gay man, think she was doing when she told the Advocate, in response to a question about Travolta’s legal maneuvers against a website that published a story about his alleged gay lifestyle…

“Wow! I mean, my feeling about John has always been that we know and we don’t care. Look, I’m sorry that he’s uncomfortable with it, and that’s all I can say.”

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Popular Culture, Professions, U.S. Society

Ethics Trainwreck At The Border

border-warehousing-children-bbtx

Eight ethics observations on the army of child illegals clogging the Mexican border:

1. I predicted this would happen four years ago, and anyone who was paying attention should have been able to as well. Both the actions of President Obama, in essentially enacting the unethical “Dream Act” by fiat, and the rhetoric surrounding the “Dream Act” itself, constituted a national invitation to parents to send their children to the border. A nation cannot provide incentives to break the law, celebrate those who break it, and then credibly tell us that they are dismayed when a flood of law-breakers appear.

2. Even more influential in attracting desperate children to the border has been the loud, reckless and irresponsible messages coming from all quarters that the U.S. doesn’t regard law-breaking as anything but admirable and forgivable when children are involved. California, to the applause of lawyers and most of my colleagues in the legal ethics establishment, has allowed an illegal immigrant, brought here as a child, to practice law. Jeb Bush, proving himself to be muddle-headed, a rank sentimentalist, or a coward, pronounced illegal immigration with children as “an act of love.” Come on—the United States of America isn’t going to make love illegal, is it? Didn’t we just go through this with gay marriage? Democrats and illegal immigration advocates use the term “comprehensive immigration reform” as a code for “open borders,” and the code has been cracked in South America. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society

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

KABOOM!! Dana Milbank’s New Record For Flagrantly Dishonest Punditry

Exploding head

I am through with Dana Milbank, and also with anyone who quotes him, relies on him, believes him or—take note, Washington Post—employs him. There must be some level of insulting, dishonest, toadying, intentionally misleading punditry that qualifies as intolerable, and Milbank’s latest column for the Washington Post—syndicated elsewhere so the maximum number of weak minds can be polluted—defined it. I’m not going to reprint a word of it for fear that it will poison the blog, or cause your head to explode like mine just did—but I can describe its thesis. Get this: Milbank decries a “crisis of the week political culture” in Washington, and blames the news media, Republicans and Congress for the shifting attention. I am suppressing a scream as I write this.

There is a “crisis of the week” political culture because the incredibly inept and incompetent President of the United States has mismanaged every conceivable aspect of the government’s policies, domestic and foreign, while maintaining incompetents and political hacks in key positions and sending the message that there will be no accountability for abject failure, and because, despite pledging unprecedented transparency, the standard operating procedure for this group of ideologically doctrinaire and skill-challenged group has been to posture, obfuscate, stall, mislead and lie until various ugly chickens come home to roost, and then to rely on the news media to accept absurd excuses, explanation and blame-shifting theories, chaos has been percolating beneath the surface in dozens of vital areas—oh yes, more bad news is coming—and the full measure of various disasters are finally becoming known.

There is a crisis of the week mentality because a new catastrophe caused by the epic incompetence of this Administration is being uncovered every week, and sometimes every day.

And Dana Milbank blames the political culture, as if it is making this stuff up.

And he expects readers to agree with him.

And a lot of them will.

Kaboom.

Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Kaboom!, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society

Ethics Quiz: Is It Ethical For The President To Cut In Line?

"I'm more important than you are, so I'm cutting in line."

“I’m more important than you are, so I’m cutting in line.”

[Fred, who sent me this one, prefaced it by writing, "You'll love this." He was right. I do. I also hate it.]

News Item ( Austin 360):

“Following his speech at the Paramount, President Obama’s motorcade traveled to Franklin Barbecue on East 11th Street. The restaurant is well known for its great brisket and extremely long waits, but the president circumvented that using the powers of his office. “I know this is a long line. I feel real bad, but – I’m gonna cut,” Obama said, according to a pool report from the Statesman’s Chuck Lindell. [Owner] Aaron Franklin told the Statesman’s Ciara O’Rourke that nobody cuts the line at Franklin … except Obama.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is it ethical for the President of the United States to cut into a line for goods or services?

Can you guess my answer?

It’s not just “no,” but “Hell, no!”

Talk about the Imperial Presidency! There is no basis, justification or excuse whatsoever for the President to cut into line under these circumstances, especially by saying, “I’m gonna cut.” The proper answer to that, my friends, is “No, you’re not, Mister President. Why don’t you ask politely, and maybe everyone ahead of you will be magnanimous and agree?” Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Leadership, U.S. Society

Judges At Work

Supreme Court protests

In the threads here stemming from Judge Kopf’s impolite and unprofessional verbiage directed at the Supreme Court, some members of the Nebraska federal jurist’s fan club have sought to justify his incivility by asserting that the judicial system itself is “broken,” and that, more specifically, judges ought to just concern themselves with judicial errors of their lower court colleagues and eschew political controversies, such as, I must presume based on the context of the judge’s compliant, when the other branches of the government break laws and violate constitutional principles.

To say that I’m cynical about this argument understates the case.What it means, I believe, is that members of one partisan orientation believe that the system is broken as long as judges who do not share their progressive biases are in a position to rule on various controversies where judicial intervention is necessary and appropriate, but will no longer be considered “broken” once progressive-minded jurists are in a position to do the intervening, whereupon the critics like Judge Kopf will drop their objections.

The fact that the system is not “broken” and that judges are doing their jobs when called upon to protect the public from abuse of power was illustrated by two events this week: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society