Tag Archives: honesty

What A Surprise: Donald Trump Has An Unethical Lawyer!

One of these guys is Donald Trump's lawyer. Maybe both...

One of these guys is Donald Trump’s lawyer. Maybe both…

I realize I run the risk, by publishing this opinion, of Donald Trump’s thuggish, boorish, dolt of lawyer trying to “mess [my] life up … for as long as [I’m] on this frickin’ planet,” to put it in his well-measured, restrained and professional parlance. Well, so be it. Seldom do we see any lawyer befoul the image and dignity of his profession like Michael Cohen, Esquire, one of Donald Trump’s lawyers, did yesterday responding to a Daily Beast story about the dirty linen aired during Trump’s divorce from Ivana Trump over 20 years ago.

Ivana then compared a sexual encounter with her husband to sexual assault and rape,  and The Daily Beast wrote about it, as if Trump wasn’t doing enough already to make any decent American head to the loo at the sight of him. So Trump appointed Cohen as his media spokesman on the matter—just think: he was the best and most professional of the candidates for the job!—and he said this to The Daily Beast… Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

UPDATE: Hillary’s Ongoing Corruption Of Democrats, Progressives, and…

moral decay

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how Hillary Clinton was gradually converting her admirers into sociopaths, making her a particularly toxic ethics corrupter. I haven’t written here as much about ethics corrupters as I should have, but Hillary will give me many opportunities to rectify that situation. To quote the Ethics Alarms glossary,

“An ethics corrupter is someone, usually a celebrity, a public official or an accomplished and successful individual, who behaves unethically and forces those who admire him or her, or what they have achieved, to defend indefensible conduct as a matter of loyalty or cognitive dissonance. As a result, the defenders warp their own values, using rationalizations to excuse or  justify conduct they once correctly understood was wrong…”

Now Reason has seen the light: Continue reading

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Filed under U.S. Society

“I think abortion is evil, but it is a necessary evil.” Discuss.

Foetus-435110

This blog doesn’t discuss evil very often because it is not a term appropriately associated with ethics. Evil is a concept related to morality. In an ethics discussion, I would take evil to mean something extremely, irredeemably unethical by any ethical analysis or system. The statement “I think abortion is evil, but it is a necessary evil” appeared parenthetically in a comment by Beth, a frequent commenter on Ethics Alarms who is a mother and a lawyer, regarding the Planned Parenthood videos. Though the news media appears to have successfully distorted that story by focusing only on whether the videos were evidence of illegal “trafficking in body parts” by Planned Parenthood, that was not the reason I posted the essays, and it is not the reason those videos are significant in the ongoing debate over abortion rights. Two high ranking individuals in the organizations casually discussed the crushing and crunching of the heads and torsos of living and helpless individuals with the sensitivity I would associate with stepping on a roach. If this doesn’t disturb you, it should. If it does disturb you, as it did Beth, what does that mean?

Abortion is one of the most important and difficult ethics issues in the culture, indeed in world culture. It involves millions of lives and millions of deaths, law, bioethics, religion, social policy, science, human rights and feminism, as well as society’s ultimate respect for life itself. I have written about the ethics of the abortion debate frequently (you can find most of the relevant posts here), but to summarize the Ethics Alarms views on the topic:

1. Abortion is an ethics conflict, meaning that there are ethical principles in opposition to each other, requiring society to set priorities.

2. The absolutist position on the anti-abortion side is that abortion involves the taking of innocent human life, which begins from conception, and is thus unethical in all cases. It is a strong position if one accepts the underlying assumption.

3. However, no absolute position is really absolute. Every ethics absolute has an exception, or several: there must be some circumstances when abortion is necessary and right. (This is not true of moral absolutes, since moral absolutes are self defining. If the power dictating a moral precept says it is absolute, it is so.)

4. The absolutist position on the abortion side of the argument holds that a woman’s right to have complete dominion over her body, reproductive activity and health justifies abortion in all cases. This is not a strong position, and in fact is one that cannot be honestly argued or sustained. It supports abortion on demand for any purpose or preference, entirely at the mother’s discretion.

5. To make that argument, extreme pro-abortion advocates have had to deny the humanity and human rights of unborn children, even to the point of arguing that they are not individuals at all, but mere “parasites,” or “tumors.” The removal of a second life from the equation that is at the core of the abortion problem makes the abortion decision easy and guilt-free; it also settles the debate by pretending the central issue doesn’t exist. That issue is that there is another life involved, not just the mother’s.

6. The debate over the ethics of abortion has been handicapped by the tactic of both sides to pretend a legitimate interest championed by the other doesn’t exist. A woman’s ability to control her own life, career and what happens to her body is an important societal issue, yet the term “pro-life” ignores it entirely. It is not the only important interest involved in the abortion decision, however, as the term “pro-choice” suggests.

7. Neither absolute position, whatever its theoretical virtues, is practical from a policy perspective. Desperate women who are pregnant will seek abortions, people will help then (or exploit them, or kill them), and public policy cannot pretend otherwise. Society will not tolerate punishing women for aborting their unborn children, whether they deserve to be punished or not. Yet allowing mothers to have unborn children killed on a whim leads to the callous, ugly, dangerous attitude toward innocent life on display in the Planned Parenthood videos. Callousness toward any human life, history has shown us, is a slippery slope with the potential of doing terrible harm to the culture.

8. Roe v. Wade was a premature Supreme Court decision and a badly reasoned one. Until and unless it is overturned, abortion is a right. That does not mean, and never meant, that abortion necessarily is right.

9. Because absolutism fails here, abortion is a problem that demands utilitarian analysis–balancing of interests and values, in the best interests of society, long and short-term, and everyone in it, according to the facts as we understand them.

10. Balancing requires an honest acknowledgement that there is something to balance. The “pro-choice” and “pro-life” dichotomy doesn’t acknowledge that in their most extreme incarnations, and since abortion is currently a right, the pro-choice lobby detects no reason to yield to logic, science and reality. Continue reading

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Filed under Bioethics, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, Rights

Down That Slippery Slope They Told Me Didn’t Exist: Connecticut Democrats Drop Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson From The Name Of Their Annual Dinner

Jefferson Jackson Dinner

In the recent post, Stop Your Cultural Bulldozing, America: Disney World Taking Down Bill Cosby’s Bust Is Like Removing The Jefferson Memorial, I described the danger of removing well-earned cultural honors and memorials for individuals who later are found to have engaged in less than admirable conduct by current standards. I wrote in part…

“Sure, it’s uncomfortable having a bust of an unapologetic sexual predator in a Disney World attraction, and it might prompt some uncomfortable question from the kiddies. Well, good. It’s never too soon to learn that human beings are flawed, complex creatures, and that even the most brilliant and talented have dark sides, do terrible things,  and can be cruel, selfish, dishonest and even criminal. We honor Thomas Jefferson for his crucial role in giving this nation life, and defining its mission and values for the ages. We’re not honoring his hypocrisy, his cowardice, his own rapes,  or his slaveholding….

“First they came for Cosby, and we did not speak out…”

There is no stop to this slippery slope, and the political correctness mob will never stop.”

Some people I respect a great deal really went after me for that pronouncement, particularly on Facebook. “Hyperbole!” “Scaremongering!” “Just because a theme park doesn’t want to sport the bust of a rapist and stunning hypocrite in a TV Hall Of Fame doesn’t mean that there is any danger of politically correct zealots toppling the statue of Tom from his memorial!” “There is no such slippery slope,” I was scolded.

News Item: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History

Planned Parenthood’s Callousness Toward Life On Video, ACT II

In her op-ed for  USA TODAY, Kirsten Powers, one of the token liberals (she’s a moderate conservative, really) on Fox News, does an excellent job of compiling the inadequate and indeed damning responses of Planned Parenthood and the pro-abortion establishment to the video evidence of its executives’ stunning lack of respect for  unborn human life. (I covered much of the same territory here and here.) There is now a second video, and that means that the “this is just an aberration and one woman’s mistake” rationalization for Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical research, Deborah Nucatola casually talking about crushing the heads of living human beings to preserve their organs for medical research. Powers quotes her “friend and former Obama White House staffer Michael Wear” as tweeting “It should bother us as a society that we have use for aborted human organs, but not the baby that provides them.”

Well said. Does it bother us? It certainly doesn’t bother Democratic presidential candidates, none of whom have breathed a word about the videos. Neither have they been asked about them, because with the exception of the evil Fox News, none of the news organizations have treated the first video as anything but a one day story. Writes Powers, accurately,

It’s a measure of how damning the video is that Planned Parenthood’s usual defenders were nowhere to be found. There was total silence from The New York Times editorial board and their 10 (out of 11) pro-abortion rights columnists. Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi — both recipients of Planned Parenthood’s highest honor, the Margaret Sanger Award — have been mum.

They want the story to go away, and the reason is that the ethics of abortion is extremely vulnerable to facts and honest discussion. Shouldn’t the news media be promoting both? Let me rephrase that: wouldn’t objective, unbiased, ethical journalists have a duty to examine the issue in the light of the videos, and not shrink from them?

Of course. Continue reading

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Filed under Bioethics, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, U.S. Society

One Class, 114 Valedictorians….W.S. Gilbert Warned Us About This

Apparently this has been going on at Arlington, Virginia’s Washington and Lee High School, from which my niece graduated, for years.  The school calls about a third of its graduating classes “valedictorians,” so 1) the school can put it on their college applications and deceive those who haven’t connected the dots; 3) make certain the school can claim a female valedictorian, a black valedictorian, an Asian-American valedictorian, a trans valedictorian…you know, because everyone is above average, like in Lake Woebegon, and 3) the official rationalization, to eliminate competitiveness for honors among students, because life isn’t competitive.

Back when I wrote about this in June, 2010, the news was that…

In many high schools around the country, as many as fifty graduating seniors were designated “valedictorians…

Now honor inflation ins some schools is  more than double that, so this atrocious practice is obviously catching on. Integrity is such a chore. Excellence, superiority, achievement…they are all chores too.  As for the genuinely superior students, they are out of luck: this is the high school equivalent of all the gladiators standing up and crying “I’m Spartacus!,” except now it’s “I’m the smartest one in the class!” This Maoist denial of the fact that some of us earn more success than others and that there is nothing wrong with doing so is all the rage, and you can expect to hear more such ideas as the various candidates to lead the nation, one founded on the principle of personal self-determination based on ambition and enterprise, argue about how to deal with “income inequality.” Income inequality is but a subset of talent, industry, risk-taking and ability inequality…and good fortune inequality too. Might high schools sending graduates out into the world with the cuckoo concept that everyone should be regarded as equally accomplished whether they really are or not also contribute to income inequality?

Why yes, I think so. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Humor and Satire, Literature, Quotes, U.S. Society

More On The Planned Parenthood “Sting” Video: A Fake Apology, The News Media Embargo, Misdirection, Another Dishonest Defense…And New Rationalization #38 A : “Mercy For Miscreants”

Side issue: Newsbusters used this photo of Petula Dvorak. Is that unethical, as in gratuitously mean? There are nicer ones. (Of course, I'm using the photo to raise the issue. Honest.)

Side issue: Newsbusters used this photo of Petula Dvorak. Is that unethical, as in gratuitously mean? There are nicer ones. (Of course, I’m using the photo to raise the issue. Honest.)

The surreptitiously filmed video of a Planned Parenthood official talking about butchering babies like Ed Gein talking about how to make lampshades out of a human face presented anti-abortion advocates with smoking gun evidence of the callousness and disregard of fetal life the pro-abortion movement has cultivated. One cannot think about fetuses, even advanced fetuses, as living, human beings and blithely encourage their destruction. The recorded comments of Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical research, released in the shortened version of a three hour video, should inform a national debate regarding abortion, a debate that the pro-abortion forces desperately want to avoid. The video itself makes it clear why.

Thus the news media is determined to bury the story, just as it barely covered the abortion House of Horrors of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. The ugly reality of abortion is not supportive of abortion, just as the reality of slavery was rejected and avoided by slavery proponents until Uncle Tom’s Cabin shocked the culture out of its denial. Abortion advocates focus on the beneficial results of abortion– freedom for women, workforce flexibility, family planning, personal power—and it is the equivalent of slavery advocates pointing to the Old South’s agricultural affluence and pleasant lifestyle to justify keeping hguman beings in chains. The news media shouldn’t be picking winners in this cultural debate. It has a duty to report facts, especially facts that might shock the public out of ignorance and apathy on such a vital issue involving law and ethics.

As activists are wont to do in their passion, the Live Action-affiliated group that released the video over-reached in its interpretation of it, thus giving the news media, Planned Parenthood and the pro-abortion lobby an easy path to deflection. The video doesn’t prove, or even strongly suggest, that Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts for research. By making that accusation, the group opened the door to attacks on the legitimacy of the video. Every media report says that it is “heavily edited,” a phrase intended to suggest that it is deceptively edited. The video is heavily edited because the raw video, which is available to view as well, is three hours long and watching it is like watching paint dry while being hit in the face by an occasional rock.

Unless the media defenders of Planned Parenthood think that the unedited video contains moments when Nucatola says, “Oh, by the way, I didn’t mean what I just said, even though I sounded like I did,” the woman displayed a callous, core attitude that killing a human embryo is as ethically significant as stepping on a cockroach. That’s what is so disturbing about the video, why it is important, and why abortion foes should make certain it is viewed by as many U.S. citizens as possible. Political figures, candidates for office and elected officials should also be forced to confront the video, with “well, that’s heavily edited” being immediately called what it is: a dodge.

On the topic of dodges, we have Planned Parenthood’s apology for Nucatola. Cecile Richards, the group’s president, stated in a video:

“Our top priority is the compassionate care that we provide. In the video, one of our staff members speaks in a way that does not reflect that compassion. This is unacceptable, and I personally apologize for the staff member’s tone and statements. As always, if there is any aspect of our work that can be strengthened, we want to know about it, and we take swift action to address it.”

On the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale, this is a solid #9,“apologizing for a tangential matter other than the act or words that warranted an apology.” Compassion toward whom? The issue in the video is the disgusting lack of compassion for the unborn who are being reduced to body parts for medical research, not lack of compassion for the mothers of those little bundles of body parts.

As with the Slate’s attempted defense of the indefensible, Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak was propelled by the perceived threat to Planned Parenthood and abortions galore into a near hysterical condemnation of the video, one that, also like the Slate column, nicely illustrated the ethical and logical deficits in the pro-abortion position.

She begins by defining the latest addition to the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List with her very first sentence: “Planned Parenthood has become one of the most attacked groups in America.” The simple rejoinder to that is, “So what?” Either the group deserves a particular criticism, or it doesn’t. The fact that some criticism is unfair or excessive does not invalidate legitimate criticism, or suggest that it is unfair or cruel to offer it.

Nonetheless, we see this rationalization often. It is favorite dodge of Hillary Clinton’s supporters: “There they go, attacking Hillary Clinton again!” they say, as if the frequency of criticism can only be attributable to the unfair zeal of her critics, and her conduct has nothing to do with it. I call this rationalization “Mercy For Miscreants.”

Its theory is that it is only fair to assign a criticism quota to groups and individuals: at a certain point, no more criticism is allowed, because nobody should have to be criticized that much. It is so darn mean to keep heaping abuse on someone, even if they deserve it. This new rationalization  is #38 A,  classified as a sub-rationalization under rationalization number 38. The Miscreant’s Mulligan or “Give him/her/them/me a break!”  “Mercy For Miscreants,” or “Why don’t they pick on someone else?is arguably more sinister and illogical that its parent, because it is based on the Bizarro World theory that the more someone is criticized, the less they should be criticized. On occasion, this rationalization also appeals to #21. Ethics Accounting, on the batty theory that if someone, or a group like Planned Parenthood, has been unfairly criticized in the past, that should count in their favor and relieve them of being legitimately criticized later.

Petula is just getting started, however. Here next two paragraphs are about how unfairly Planned Parenthood has been attacked in the past, and what wonderful things it does, neither of which are even faintly germane to the current controversy, which involves a high-ranking executive saying things like…

“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver. . . . So I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact…”

…about unborn children. That’s what she is crushing. And she is crushing the life out of them, beyond question. Continue reading

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Filed under Bioethics, Character, Childhood and children, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity, U.S. Society