Tag Archives: fairness

Ethics Reflections On A Souvenir Wall Hanging

Welcome to my world...

Welcome to my world…

“Can’t you ever stop thinking about ethics?” my wife said to me a few minutes ago. We were walking around historic Williamsburg, Virginia—I have seminar to teach in a couple hours—and I saw a ceramic wall hanging for sale at the charming Christmas store in the town square. It read…

IF WE CAN SEND A MAN TO THE MOON, WHY CAN’T WE SEND THEM ALL THERE?

Maybe it’s an old joke, but I hadn’t encountered it before. I thought it was kind of funny in a “this is a parody of over-the-top, ‘a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle’ seventies feminism” way, but I find myself wondering…

-Would progressives consider this “eliminationist rhetoric?” Hate speech?

-If not, why not?

-Would a gender-reversed version of the joke be funny? Would feminists consider it offensive? Would such feminists defend the wall-hanging? Continue reading

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Filed under Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, U.S. Society

Ethics Quiz: The Worst Grandmother of the Year

hammer71-year-old Josephine Bell told police officers responding to a call at her home that she had warned her grandchildren that if they did not clean their rooms, she would take their pets away.  They didn’t, she said, so she killed the children’s cat and four kittens with a hammer. The oldest child found the dead cat in the freezer, and called the police.

Granny was charged with a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals, and is in custody at Madison County Jail on $15,000 bond.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz is…

What should be society’s response to conduct like this, and what should happen to Bell?

Continue reading

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

Cover-up: Successful

Somebody tell Rep. Gowdy that his committee's investigation is futile. The news media and the public just don't mind being lied to any more.

Somebody tell Rep. Gowdy that his committee’s investigation is futile. The news media and the public just don’t mind being lied to any more.

From USA Today:

One day after the deadly Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded the assault had been planned 10 days earlier by an al-Qaeda affiliate, according to documents released Monday by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. “The attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was planned and executed by The Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdul Rahman,” said a preliminary intelligence report by the Defense Intelligence Agency, obtained through a lawsuit following a Freedom of Information Act request.

Wait…I thought that Hillary Clinton, State, President Obama and Susan Rice were all laboring under the misconception that the attack was spontaneous and prompted by a YouTube video, and the claims that the Obama Administration was stalling the revelations of what they already knew so Mitt Romney couldn’t challenge Obama’s carefully manufactured narrative that he had terrorism on the run were just partisan sour grapes. That’s been the spin the liberal press has been accepting from the White House for over two years.

What’s going on here? Well, the “narrative” carefully shifted away from the most transparent administration in history lying to the American public to excessive Republican claims that the outpost wasn’t given proper security, wasn’t rescued when it could have been, was the product of criminal incompetence. As soon as those accusations failed, Democrats and the news media promptly adopted the official Obama line: Benghazi was a “nothingburger,” in the contemptuous words of Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank. It was a manufactured scandal of no substance designed to discredit Hillary Clinton.

But no evidence proved that Obama, Clinton and Rice weren’t lying about the attacks being spontaneous and not organized terrorism, and all the evidence has demonstrated the contrary, with this latest piece of the puzzle simply filling in some of the blanks. Of course, the latest story wasn’t even covered by most of the mainstream media; I was shocked to see it in USA Today. Judicial Watch is a conservative organization, you see. To be fair, it’s a whack job conservative organization. That means it could legitimately discover cold fusion and the news media wouldn’t pay attention.

Maybe it isn’t news. After all, the Obama cover-up worked. As Harry Reid said, after admitting his part in the organized effort to make sure that the 2012 Presidential elections was based as much on smears, lies and slight of hand as real issues, “Romney lost, didn’t he?” Hillary’s famous dismissal of the issue in the Benghazi hearings was on the mark: “What difference, at this point, does it make?” Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

The Jeb Bush “Gotcha!”: Unfair Question, Dumb Answers

Enough about Iraq, Jeb: When did you stop beating your wife?

Enough about Iraq, Jeb: When did you stop beating your wife?

In the vast history of unfair questions, even including such immortals as “When did you stop beating your wife?,”none is more unanswerable in a substantive way than the question Jeb Bush was asked on Fox News—yes, that’s the same Fox News that supposedly lobs softballs for any Republican. The question: “Knowing what we know now” would he have authorized the Iraq war?

What possible use is that question, other than as an exercise in complete hindsight bias? If the answer is no, it appears to validate the dishonest criticism of the war decades ago, by those who attributed new knowledge about the infamous WMD’s to the original decision, which wasn’t about weapons of mass destruction in the first place. If it is yes, it is evidence of insanity.

Now we know that the invasion would be botched, the U.N. would cravenly and irresponsibly withhold support for enforcing its own resolutions, that our hillbilly soldiers would torture Iraqi prisoners and take photos of it, that the new Iraqi government would be incompetent and corrupt, that the news media would assist Democrats in re-writing the history of the decision, and most of all, that even after the situation in Iraq had finally been stabilized, an incompetent President would prematurely pull out our troops, causing the government to implode and ISIS to thrive.

George W. Bush had even said when he was President that if he had known that no WMD’s were there, he would not have invaded Iraq. That was also a dumb answer at the time, and I believe a dishonest one. But today, W. would give the same answer, and knowing what we know now, it would be both correct and honest. That’s if he were silly enough not to say, as his younger brother was too dim to say, this:

“I’m not answering that. It’s pointless. Would Lee have ordered Pickett’s Charge, knowing how it would turn out? Would I have left the dock as captain of the Titanic, knowing that it would hit an iceberg? Would I have approved the Space Shuttle program, knowing that two shuttles would meet with disaster? “Would you still go to see ‘Our American Cousin,’ Mrs Lincoln?” A decision can only be judged based on what the known situation is at the time. It cannot be fairly judged based on the results of the decision, immediately or years later. That’s consequentialism; it’s a logical fallacy.

and

“Nor can I answer the question of what I would have decided in my brother’s place, because I do know how things worked out, and he, of course, could not know. So asking that question is unfair to me, and answering it would be unfair to him. “

But Jeb was too dim to say that. So first he answered… Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership

Ethics Dunce (and Ethics Hero REVOKED): Sen. Ted Cruz

revoked

Uh-uh, Senator. You can’t have it both ways, not on Ethics Alarms. You can’t be gracious and forgiving and then turn around a couple days later and say what your red meat supporters want to hear. I call that an “Al Gore,” who gave a magnanimous and statesman-like speech conceding after the Supreme Court stopped the 2000 Florida recount, and then slammed the legitimacy of his defeat ever after.

Ethics Alarms gave the Republican rabblerouser an Ethics Hero designation for coming to pundit Mark Halperin’s defense when he was being pilloried all over the media for a demeaning interview of Cruz based on the assumption that he needed to prove that he was really Hispanic. After Halperin was battered into apologizing, Cruz said, in part,

“Mark Halperin is a serious and fair-minded journalist. Today he kindly issued an apology for some silly questions he asked me in an interview. The apology was unnecessary — no offense was taken, nor, I believe, intended — but is certainly appreciated.”

That was classy, and also apparently, a ploy and insincere.In comments about the episode to the conservative IJReview at an  American Conservative Union event, Senator Cruz essentially recycled the same Halperin critic complaints that his earlier comments were supposed to deflect, saying,

“Imagine if [Halperin] had asked Obama these same questions? He would have been run out of the industry.”

But no offense was taken, right, Ted?

Not cool, not kind, and definitely not consistent. The fact that he is absolutely correct about the double standard is beside the point. Cruz couldn’t help himself. He knew the right way to act (that is, his ethics alarms work and he can follow the Golden Rule), but he didn’t have the self-restraint or integrity to resist taking a shot at Halperin anyway. Now we know what he really thinks, and now we know that what he said initially was just a smart politician taking a high road that he didn’t want to be on.

Got it.

Fool me once, Ted…

Ethics Hero REVOKED

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces

When Typos Have Ethical Significance

Law-Firm-Advertising-FAIL

I was chided over the weekend for mocking a misspelling in one of the cuckoo online comments cheering on Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s ridiculous “monitoring” of U.S. military exercises in his state. The thrust of my critic’s argument was that picking on such modes of expression was not only a cheap shot but an elitist cheap shot. I generally deplore the “You wrote ‘teh!'” school of online debate, and in my view, that wasn’t what I was doing when I pointed out this particular Texas paranoid’s spelling of government as “goverment” twice . His “position” didn’t require any rebuttal, as it was self-evidently batty; I alluded to “goverment” because I concluded that it was not a typo, but rather an indication that the commenter was as ignorant as granite block. If you can’t spell government, you haven’t read about government enough to have an opinion on it worth inflicting on the rest of us.

It led me to ponder, however, when a typo has undeniable ethical significance, and mirabile dictu, Above the Law today provided the excellent example you see above.

This is part of the marketing for a law firm—you know, those organizations that provide lawyers to ordinary citizens who need help negotiating the complexities of our nation’s increasingly impenetrable laws and regulations in order to live and prosper? Lawyers are supposedly trained in the precision of language, as the presence or absence of a comma or semi-colon in a statute, a motion or a brief can mean the difference between a client being a criminal or a free man, and an unnoticed typo in the draft of a contract, will, trust or settlement can decide the fate of millions of dollars, the ownership of disputed property, the existence of a prenuptial agreement, and other momentous, life-altering  consequences.

The very existence of an embarrassing  law firm marketing device like this one—I think it’s a coaster—leads to many conclusions:

1. It tells us that the law firm’s managing partners are inattentive to details, and in law, details are everything.

2. It tells us that the lawyers in the firm inadequately supervise the non-lawyers who work for the firm, and the ethics rules demand that lawyers be especially attentive to such employees and contractors.

3. It tells us that at least one firm lawyer, whoever approved the thing, either is illiterate or can’t be trusted to check the text of documents, even documents containing only three words.

4.It tells us, in short, that this law firm, and by extension the lawyers it employs, cannot be trusted to exercise care, competence and diligence when they are representing themselves.

How can it possibly be trustworthy when it is representing others?

__________________

Pointer and Source: Above the Law

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Marketing and Advertising, Professions

Ethics Hero: Sen. Ted Cruz

[UPDATE: Sen Cruz’s Ethics Hero designation has been REVOKED by Ethics Alarms. Details here.]

One of the Republican party’s most demonized  conservative politicians, Tea Party idol and Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, just challenged his progressive critics to concede that he has the character of a President, at least.

Cruz stood by politely as familiar TV pundit Mark Halperin cross-examined him on Bloomberg TV as if the Cuban-American was suspected of being born in Kenya. The demeaning interview (to both Cruz and Halperin, who disgraced himself) consisted of  Halperin pressing the Republican firebrand to prove his Hispanic bona fides with  cringe-worthy questions about his favorite Cuban food and what his tastes in Hispanic music were. (A Hispanic journalist quipped that Halperin had Cruz confused with Ricky Ricardo.) It all came to a nauseating climax when Halperin said: “I want to give you the opportunity to directly welcome your colleague Sen. Sanders to the race, and I’d like you to do it, if you would, en español.

The fiasco of an interview took a while to register (apparently nobody watches Bloomberg), but when it did, Halperin was excoriated left, right, and center, called a racist, called a fool, called biased against Cruz and determined to trap him into a “Gotcha!” Mostly he was called an inept and unprofessional interviewer, and Halperin, who is playing talking head somewhere that actually has viewers almost every  day, had to issue an attempted career-salvaging apology.

Ted Cruz surprised everyone by coming to Halperin’s rescue. He wrote: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media