Ethics Hero Emeritus: Sir Nicholas Winton (1909 – 2015)

winton and child

Another hero of the Holocaust has died. Nicholas Winton organized and substantially financed the last-minute escape of 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II, but never sought the fame and public accolades that Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg received. He got the accolades anyway, especially in his native Great Britain and Czechoslovakia, once his heroics were publicized long after they occurred.

I had never heard of him or his exploits until the news reports of his death. Continue reading

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Why Yes, Krystal, There IS A “Candidate For Congress Who Is Photographed Sucking The Phallic Red Nose Worn By Her Reindeer Attired Husband At A Christmas Party Principle,” And It Isn’t A Double Standard At All, As You Will Learn As Soon As There IsA Male Congressional Candidate Photographed Doing the Same Thing. Now Shut Up, Please.

Krystal-Ball

I’m sorry, I can resist this.

In 2010, Krystal Ball was a 28-year old, almost credential and experience free Democratic Party nominee for United States Congress in Virginia’s 1st congressional district in the 2010 election. She lost to Republican incumbent Rob Wittman. During the campaign, old photographs surfaced of Ball and her then-husband at a college Christmas party, showing her dressed as “bad Santa,” leading her husband, dressed as a reindeer, around S and M style by a leash, and sucking on his long, fake, phallic red nose.  Like this:

Krystal Ball 5Krystal Ball 1

(By the way, I had mentioned this episode very briefly in 2010, and promptly forgot about. Ball is the one, as we say in the law, who “opened the door” again.)

Although she lost by a 2-1 margin, Ball made the rounds of various TV talk shows exploiting the salacious aspects of the photos (for this is what the programs were interested in) and playing the victim, arguing that the photos were used against her because she was a woman. The exposure, combined with the fact that she is physically attractive—this sexist standard doesn’t bother her, oddly— launched her current career as a pretty talking head, if not an especially enlightening one. (Naturally, she roams on MSNBC.)

Krystal was on Fox News yesterday whining yet again about her 2010 defeat and blaming it on the photos and a “double standard.” “I think that we should look at the example of Scott Brown,” she told a sympathetic Megyn Kelly. “He had pictures from the same age as those pictures of me, only he was completely naked, in the centerfold of a national magazine, and it was not even a bump in his campaign; in fact he has even said that it helped him a little bit in his campaign. And I’m not holding anything against Senator Scott Brown… that’s as it should be, in my view, because those kinds of things to me are not relevant to the campaign trail. And I do think there’s a double standard.”

Baloney. Continue reading

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Speaking Of Doing The Right Thing For Unethical Reasons, TV Land Has Pulled “The Dukes of Hazzard”

Wait, there's a CAR in this photo?

Wait, there’s a CAR in this photo?

You know, I think I’m as sensitive as anyone (sane) to nascent racism, and yet somehow I missed the fact, when in my youth I would watch  TV’s “The Dukes of Hazzard” for an average of six minutes before thinking, “BOY is this dumb!” and change the channel lest my IQ be permanently lowered, that the show was a KKK product. That’s because there was nothing vaguely racist or even Confederacy-ish about the show, except the flag design on the fictional super-car the good ol’ Duke boys drove, “The General Lee,” named after a historical figure who, you will recall, was a Confederate general. What would you expect a car called the General Lee to have on its roof, the Portuguese flag?

Never mind. TV Land, the cable channel that celebrates TV shows so old that they provoke mid-life crises by their very existence, just decided to join the political correctness purge that has the Park Service representing at its battlefields that the Union prevailed over a mysterious foe Which Cannot Be Named, and which definitely had no flag to fight for. It has pulled “The Dukes of Hazzard” from its schedule….not because it is trash and no more worthy of preservation for future generations than less popular stinkers like “It’s About Time,” “Pink Lady and Jeff,” “Mr. Terrific” or “Hart to Hart,” but because of the design on the roof of the car.

As a self-appointed guardian of pop culture history, TV Land is obligated to resist such efforts at whitewashing, which I assume will also claim every Norman Lear show (You think you are a progressive, Norman? HA! You’re a racist who dealt in toxic stereotypes!!!) like “The Jeffersons,” “Sanford and Son,” and “Good Times.” Ah, but #blackhypersensitivitymatters, you know, a lot more than letting people watch Catherine Bach in her shorts. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Train Wrecks, Popular Culture, Race, U.S. Society

Kansas City’s All-Star Game Cheat, And Why It Matters

May 22, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals second basemen Omar Infante (14) attempts a throw to first over St. Louis Cardinals base runner Peter Bourjos (8) during the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Another example of how the acceptance of cheating is seeping into American culture is being played out in the Major League All-Star Game voting. The American League squad supposedly elected by “fans,” will be announced tomorrow, and what the results will show is…

…that Major League Baseball, like the federal Office of Personnel Management, depended on technology with out comprehending technology, displaying unethical incompetence and harming those who had no choice but to trust it,

…that technologically adept computer dorks decided to rig the vote, harming the game, the sport, and deserving players, and

…that Major League Baseball is pretending there is no problem to minimize PR damage, its proven disastrous approach in other cheating scandals, such as the steroid infestation of the ’90s.

The ineptitude of the sport here is beyond belief, especially since this has happened before. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Journalism & Media, Science & Technology, Sports, The Internet

The Girl Scouts Face Corruption By A Rich, Cruel, Horrible Person

batman_arkham_origins

Fortunately, they knew what to do.

Last May the Girl Scouts made news when they announced a new policy of acceptance for transgender girls.  The policy was reasonable and case-by-case based, but the policy is secondary to the story. What matters is that the organization adopted it as consistent with its mission.

Last month, a $100,000 donor sent the Queen Anne offices of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington a note demanding that the chapter “guarantee that our gift will not be used to support transgender girls. If you can’t, please return the money.” The $100,000 was about 25% of the group’s yearly fundraising goal, and would have been used to send about a 500 indigent girls to camp.

Council CEO Megan Ferland returned the donation, telling the donor “Girl Scouts is for every girl. And every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to.” Of course she did. A non-profit organization cannot put a price tag on its mission and its integrity. This would be like St. Jude’s Hospital accepting a huge donation in exchange for allowing a black child to die of cancer. It would be like a a women’s college’s board of directors cutting a profitable deal with an outsider to close the school down, just to pick a wild hypothetical out of the air. It is the equivalent of treason, selling out one’s nation, or taking money to betray a family or a friend who trusts you. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity

This Is NBC: With All The Ethical Reasons To Fire Donald Trump, It Picks An Unethical One

Dignity...always dignity.

Dignity…always dignity.

It has happened here with Bill Clinton, Bristol Palin, and many others: this is the downside of running a website committed to fairness. I have had to come to the defense of some very unethical people through the years, but I can’t think of anyone I detest defending more than Donald Trump.

From the AP:

“NBC said Monday that it is ending its business relationship with mogul and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump because of comments he made about Mexican immigrants during the announcement of his campaign.”

Let me count the lies:

1. Anyone, including AP, who believes this is why NBC fired Trump is too gullible to function in society. He was fired because Mexico, Univision and illegal immigration advocates were threatening to make NBC’s life miserable. If what Trump said mattered to NBC, NBC would have fired him shortly after he said it.

2. Trump said nothing about Mexican immigrants. His much-maligned quote discussed illegal immigrants from Mexico “bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people.”  The unethical and dishonest effort by the news media to confuse the immigration issue and the crucial, material distinction between legal immigrants, whom the nation should welcome, and illegal immigrants, which it should not and must not, is more harmful than anything Trump has said on the topic.

3. The statement is deceitfully phrased to represent what Trump said as a slur on Mexicans, as a racist statement. Trump was talking about, in his typically lazy, crude fashion, our national problem of  unchecked illegals streaming across the Southern border, and the undeniable fact that this group includes criminals and rapists (like here, here, here…how many examples do you want?), as well as “good people.” Trump obviously wasn’t claiming that all illegal immigrants were criminals and rapists, because that would mean that some of the criminals and rapists would also have to be “good people.” But Mexico, which counts on us to solve their social problems for it, and illegal alien activists, who don’t want Americans to know that many of those sneaking into our country are not the salt of the earth, but quite the opposite, have successfully imposed a political correctness embargo on speaking the unpleasant truth.

Now on to the hypocrisy. NBC firing Trump is not just a little like, but almost EXACTLY THE SAME AS A&E firing Duck Dynasty’s scion Phil Robertson for public statements that were completely consistent with the reality star’s persona as A&E understood from the moment it inked a contract with him. The same is true of Trump’s trademark bluntness. The one difference: Robertson’s homophobic statements were blunt and ignorant, while Trumps statements about illegal immigrant were blunt and true. Continue reading

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Ethics Quote Of The Week: The Washington Post

“The court’s legal analysis in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission was something of a reach. But the ruling’s practical implications are unequivocally positive.”

—–The Washington Post in an editorial praising the Supreme Court’s approval of Arizon’s unconstitutional solution to the persistent problem of gerrymandering abuse.

"IGNORE WHEN INCONVENIENT" Really?

“IGNORE WHEN INCONVENIENT” Really?

The Post’s quote means nothing more nor less than “the ends justify the means.” “Something of a reach” is a shameless equivocation: John Roberts’ dissent to the 5-4 majority’s “legal analysis” —there really is none—resembles Mike Tyson slapping around Honey Boo-Boo. The decision’s argument approving the Arizona end-around the Constitution’s Elections Clause that reads, “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof” can be fairly summarized as “this will work, so the Constitution be damned.” It’s not a “reach.” It’s  obvious defiance of what the document says.

It that so bad? It depends on what you think is more important, integrity or solving a problem. All of the big Supreme Court decisions in the past week have essentially raised this ethics conflict, and it is clear that the liberals on the Court is on the side of solving problems—at least as they see them— even when it means compromising what the Constitution says and what the Founders intended who drafted it, with the libertarian Justice Kennedy, who tends to lean away from laws constraining citizens anyway, often joining the  colleagues to his left. This issue is as stark an example as there can be,

Gerrymandering is unethical and anti-democratic. It was not foreseen by the authors of the Constitution, who can’t be expected to have predicted every devious political maneuver their successors would come up with to pollute their ideals. Unfortunately, the Constitution doesn’t provide a way for the public to stop the practice, other than electing less corrupt legislators, and legislators use gerrymandering to make that exceedingly difficult. A tweak of the wording in the Constitution could carve out an exception, but the Founders also made amending the Constitution in any way at all an almost impossible chore, including amending it to allow easier amending.

What’s a country to do? Well, sometimes the ends really do justify the means: that’s what utilitarianism means. If the Court can kill or limit gerrymandering by, as John Roberts felicitously put it in his dissent, gerrymandering the Constitution, it might be a good choice on balance. It benefits democracy. The conservatives argue, however, and legitimately so, that such a decision also creates a dangerous, even sinister precedent despite its good intentions (none of the Justices seem to think that gerrymandering is anything but unhealthy for democracy). What other laws that violate the plain words of the Constitution will the Court approve because its “practical implications are unequivocally positive,” to the cheers of partisans?  How many times can the Court do this before the Constitution is a dead letter, and any executive–or despot— can claim that government action, regardless of what Constitutional guarantees oppose it, is to be rubber stamped because it solves a real problem? Continue reading

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