Tag Archives: honesty

MOST Ethical Column, Post Or Essay About The Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck: The New Republic’s John Judis

stand-out-from-the-crowd

I can’t bring myself to declare a liberal senior editor of a progressive magazine an Ethics Hero simply for writing an objective analysis of the Darren Wilson grand jury decision because the vast majority of his ideological brethren are refusing to demonstrate similar integrity and disgracing themselves. Nevertheless, John Judis’s essay titled “The Ferguson Decision Was Not a ‘Miscarriage of Justice.’ Liberals Need to Accept That.” is a relief and a pleasure to read in its matter-of-fact recognition of reality.  He is an analyst with impeccable hard left credentials: his curriculum vitae suggests that he is a socialist. He does not, however, believe in twisting the truth and misleading the public to further a political agenda. There is hope.

Here are some highlights:

  • “The physical evidence ruled out that Wilson had shot Brown in the back while running away, as Brown’s companion Dorian Johnson initially had claimed. And it was not conclusive one way or the other on whether Brown had, after he turned around to face Wilson, tried to surrender. In all, the forensic evidence did not prove Wilson innocent of killing Brown when he was trying to surrender, but it also did not give the grand Jury “probable cause” to indict him on that basis. Other evidence may surface, but from what the grand jury learned, I think it did the right thing, and that it’s also unlikelygiven this evidencethat the federal government, which must meet an even higher evidentiary standard, will choose to indict Wilson….”
  • “By suggesting that the grand jury did the right thing, I am not exonerating the Ferguson police department, or other police departments. Many police departments are more likely to arrest without good cause or shoot without sufficient provocation a young black male than anyone of another sex or race or ethnic group. If Wilson himself had been better trained, he would not have killed Brown….there are a host of reforms that need to be made to police departments as well as changes in the law. And it is worth holding demonstrations to demand these. But I am suggesting that liberals are wrong to characterize the grand jury decision as a “grave miscarriage of justice” or to demand, as Moveon.org has done, that the federal government “arrest and prosecute Officer Darren Wilson.” These kind of charges and petitions only serve to exacerbate racial tensions and to cloud the underlying issues….”

Someone should get him meetings with the members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the St. Louis Rams. Maybe he could explain why continuing their “hands up” demonstrations makes them look foolish. I don’t agree with some of his conclusions, particularly his belief that Robert McCulloch should have recused himself in favor of a Special Prosecutor, which would have ensured a miscarriage of justice with a repeat of the George Zimmerman show trial. Compared to virtually all other commentary from left-leaning commentators, however, Judis is clear-eyed, candid and fair….and correct.

_____________________

Pointer: Newsbusters

Source: The New Republic

 

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

For You, Dad.

Jack Marshall Sr Army portraitI lost my dad, Jack Marshall, Sr., five years ago today, and for some reason the loss feels especially sharp right now. This has been another miserable birthday, but not so miserable as that one, and I found myself once again revisiting my father’s favorite poem, which was a personnel credo for him and which has often served me well in hard times too. It is linked in the “Inspiration” section on the  Ethics Alarms home page, as well as quoted in my post here on the day my father was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Nonetheless, I am going to post Rudyard Kipling’s “If” once again. My father’s favorite line was…

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
That was Dad to the core. He never looked back, never cursed his luck, never thought too highly of himself (or anyone else), always believed in tomorrow, and that no victory was final, and no defeat was forever. And I know he was right, though it doesn’t often feel like it. So this is for you, Dad. Thanks for everything.

“If”

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs, and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait, and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet, don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two imposters just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves, to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop, and build ‘em up, with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn, long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—

You’ll be a Man, my son!

 

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Filed under Character, Family, Literature, Love

Ethics Alarms Contest: Pick The Most Unethical Column, Post Or Essay About The Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck

Stock up!

Stock up!

I realized that I needed to hold a contest after I heard two CNN experts discuss the relevance of Michael Brown’s marijuana use to the grand jury deliberations. One of them concluded that this was “disrespectful to Brown’s parents.” Of course, ensuring that grand jury proceedings embody proper respect for a victim’s parents, the accused’s parents, or anyone’s parents is not a legitimate concern for a prosecutor or a grand jury: the commentary was utter, incompetent, irresponsible, misleading and sentimental nonsense.

We are now being barraged by nonsense and worse as ideological pundits, journalists and bloggers desperately try to construct an argument that the decision not to indict Darren Wilson for murder was a blatant miscarriage of justice, proof of a rotten criminal justice system and persistent white racism. I don’t have either the time or the resistant vomit reflex to examine all of them, so let’s try to find the very worst through collective action.

Make your submission to this thread, and include a link, the source, the author, a representative quote, the ethical breaches you detect, which are likely to be from the group including honesty, fairness, responsibility, competence, and independent judgment. The only restriction is that posts from “The Daily Kos” and “Chimpmania” are not eligible for submission. I have seen a few awful posts from supporters of the grand jury’s decisions: send them in as well.

I’m almost afraid to see what we will end up with. For my first submissions, I offer two: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

Watch “Blue Bloods”

Blue Bloods

I owe Tom Selleck an apology. The long-time genial hunk, famous as “Magnum, P.I.” and notable in show business lore for missing the career opportunity of a lifetime when contractual obligations forced him to turn down the role of Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” has guided his CBS police series “Blue Bloods” to five seasons, exploring tough ethics dilemmas in virtually every episode, and usually doing it very well. For some reason, I’ve only cited the show a few times, once critically, and it deserves better. Netflix started streaming the show, and my wife has been watching about three a day. I really hadn’t been paying sufficient attention, or respect. It’s a wonderful ethics show, the best since “Star Trek, the Next Generation’s” hay day, and one of the very best ethics TV shows of all time.

Selleck plays fictional New York City police chief Frank Reagan. The show could be called “The Conflicts of Interest Family, ” because law enforcement is the family business, and Selleck’s large brood includes two sons, one a patrolman and the other a detective, under his command, and a daughter who is an assistant district attorney. Reagan delicately balances the jobs a father, mediator and boss, all while being given back-seat advice from his father, who is retired but was also a NYC police chief.

I have found myself thinking about how Selleck’s character would react to the Ferguson ethics train wreck. Police shootings have been frequent topics of episodes, as have political efforts to demonize police. Frank was a fan of New York’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy, and accusations of profiling do not reduce him to a mass of apologetic jelly. Meanwhile, he has forged a working relationship or trust with the City’s black mayor, whose loyalties to the black community, and more than a few dubious civil rights headline-seekers.

Selleck is a credentialed, if low-key, Hollywood conservative, and his show’s demographics are just short of Social Security territory.  It’s too bad: teachers should assign the show and discuss the episodes in class. The episode I wrote about earlier was an entire ethics course on its own, but hardly unique in the series: What should an undercover cop do when a child is imperiled in a burning building, and he is the only one who can get to the kid in time? If his photo is taken by the media that arrive on the scene, not only is his cover blown, but his life and family may be in danger. He hands off the child to his partner, who is the on photographed and becomes a hero. The city is clamoring for the Chief to decorate him as a hero. Naturally, the real rescuer is a Reagan.  Should the partner be willing to live a lie? Should the Chief deceive the public and preside over a fake ceremony to preserve an undercover operation that might bust the mob?  This was a memorable “Bluebloods” episode. but many reach this level of ethics complexity, and the duds are far and few between. This season the show has explored many ethics problems that have been debated in the news, such as campus rape, police body cameras, the “blue line,” news media bias, and others.

I apologize, Mr. Selleck. I have neglected your excellent efforts to present ethical dilemmas in law enforcement, leadership and parenting to the public in an intelligent, balanced, courageous and entertaining manner. Great job, on a great show. Please keep it up. I promise to pay closer attention.

 

 

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

“The Cynic”: Mitch McConnell And Political Dysfunction

Let's give credit where credit is due...

Let’s give credit where credit is due…

As we survey the irresponsible, unnecessary but apparently intentional explosion of the political process wreaked by the President’s unilateral action on illegal immigration (not “immigration,” and mark any news organization that uses this deceitful phrase as henceforward untrustworthy), it would be wrong to omit the responsibility of Mitch McConnell and his ilk–any it is a bipartisan ilk— for getting the nation to this dangerous place.

The Republican Senate leader, now Majority Leader, is the epitome of the cynical, power-hungry politician who now dominates our governmental processes, and make them all inefficient, corrupt, and undependable. As chronicled in the e-book soon to be published in hardback, “The Cynic: The Political Education of Mitch McConnell,” in his more than three decades in public service McConnell has perfected the craft of the permanent campaign, careful calibrating positions and policy measures not so much to accomplish any goal in the interests of the public and the nation, but to hold power in the next election. This is the corruption of American democracy, and reporter Alec MacGillis makes a strong case that McConnell has been one of the primary forces making sure the political process only works for politicians. It is all about the game to McConnell, and as McGillis shows, he is as deft at playing it as anybody. MacGillis writes,
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Ethics Alarms Salutes Ron Fournier, A Real Journalist And An Honest Man

RON-FOURNIER

National Journal senior political columnist Ron Fournier is a former Washington bureau chief for the Associated Press. He tends to get slammed from all sides of the political spectrum, because he is a liberal journalist with integrity and an open mind, capable of objectivity and willing to criticize those who would like to regard him, like the rest of the mainstream media, as a reliable bulwark against accountability.

Fournier’s recent column examining the serial Jonathan Gruber admissions regarding the mindset behind the effort to ram the Affordable Care Act down America’s throat without even warning us to hold our noses is a spark of hope for those of us who despair of U.S. journalists ever showing the character to practice journalism. Titled, appropriately, “A Foundation of Lies,” his column bolsters several ethics assessments made on Ethics Alarms. I was especially heartened to read this sentiment regarding media spin, a topic most recently discussed on the blog here:

“…a Washington Post story headlined, “Who Is Jonathon Gruber?”was an important and workmanlike report on the Obamacare adviser who bragged about the political advantages of deceiving voters, whom Gruber called stupid. ‘Those comments have struck a nerve on the right,” wrote Jose A. DelReal (emphasis added), “with some of the law’s critics pointing to Gruber’s comments as evidence that the administration intentionally deceived the American public on the costs of the programs.’

My first reaction was, ‘No! No! Not just on the right!’ I strongly support bipartisan efforts to expand the availability of health coverage to the working poor, and bending the cost curve that threatens federal budgets for years to come. While I think President Obama and congressional Democrats helped contribute to the 2009 standoff over what became the Affordable Care Act, I’ve openly rooted for Obamacare’s success. I’ve denounced the knee-jerk opposition from the GOP, a party that once embraced key elements of Obamacare. My ideology is amorphous; I am not “on the right.”All of that, and yet: Gruber’s remarks struck a nerve with me.”

Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Wisconsin State Journal

“Critics accused her of copying campaign materials after parts of her jobs plan and other proposals included segments that were identical to those other Democratic candidates.”

—-Wisconsin State Journal reporter Mary Spicuzza, in a story for the paper about how  Democratic Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke felts she was abused and “dragged through the mud” while running, unsuccessfully, against Gov. Scott Walker, arguably the most savaged state politician in any state.

finger-pointingAs I wrote about here, Burke DID copy campaign materials. The “critics accused” deceit is increasingly common in today’s journalism, as in “conservatives accused Democrats of using racially divisive tactics in Congressional races.” It’s despicable, and I salute Ann Althouse, a Wisconsin resident, for flagging this unintentionally hilarious example.

Spicuzza wrote “Critics accused” as if the accuracy of the accusation was still a matter of dispute, then stated in the same sentence that “parts of her jobs plans and other proposals” were identical to those of previous candidates. It’s not an accusation then, is it? It’s a fact that her opponents accurately and correctly pointed out, and as I pointed out, one that should have bothered her supporters as much it did “critics.”

This is how partisan and biased journalists warp public perceptions. Burke is claiming to have been “dragged though the mud,” implying unfair treatment, by revelations of accurate and damning facts, and the journalist is supporting that narrative by misleading reporting.

This particular device has been bothering me for a long time. Is it trivial? Sure, each individual example is trivial. Cumulatively, all the examples result in significantly warped and distorted public perceptions. I had to mention it at least once, and how sick to death I am of journalists who can’t just give us facts fairly without pushing their own candidates and agendas.

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Filed under Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media