Tag Archives: ignorance

Ben Carson’s Apology

Prison rapeOn “New Day” yesterday, Dr. Ben Carson, who is inexplicably favored by some as a 2016 Presidential nominee (perhaps because electing someone with virtually no leadership experience has worked out so well), was asked by host Chris Cuomo whether being gay was a choice, Carson replied: “Absolutely.”

“Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question,” Carson said.

This, as anyone who has been conscious over the past 20 years or so should have been able to predict, caused great consternation among the gay community and thoughtful people generally. It was approximately as ignorant as Mets’ infielder Daniel Murphy’s comments yesterday about Billy Bean, a former major league baseball player who is the sport’s “ambassador for inclusion.”  Murphy said,

“I disagree with his lifestyle.I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.”

The difference is that Carson may be running for President, whereas all Murphy has to do is get on base and turn double plays, so Murphy saying utterly stupid things like claiming that being gay is a “lifestyle”isn’t all that relevant to his career choice. Actually, I’m not certain Carson’s statement isn’t worse, especially since he’s an educated man. I haven’t seen any surveys in which former prisoners say they have been “turned gay” in prison. We know that a lot of prisoners are raped, and we know that mane confined for long periods with other men and no women may resort to homosexual sex, but no research has suggested that this experience turns such men gay. Perhaps Carson believes that engaging in homosexual sex means a man is gay, which is like believing that a man stranded in the wilderness who survives on mushrooms and nuts is a vegan.

Carson, or whoever is trying to make this sow’s ear of a candidate into a Presidential purse, quickly decided that a retraction was in order, so Carson issued, on Facebook, a long apology, saying in part:

In a recent interview on CNN, I realized that my choice of language does not reflect fully my heart on gay issues. I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation. I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive. For that I apologize unreservedly to all that were offended.

I’m a doctor trained in multiple fields of medicine, who was blessed to work at perhaps the finest institution of medical knowledge in the world. Some of our brightest minds have looked at this debate, and up until this point there have been no definitive studies that people are born into a specific sexuality.

He concluded, Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Research and Scholarship, Rights

Attack Of The Ethics Dunces: No, There Is Nothing Wrong With North Carolina’s State Ethics Commission Ruling On Sex With Lobbyists

gumbies2

Ah, how close I came to writing, “No, you morons…”!

The headline nearly was “Unethical Website of the Month: Addicting Info.” This pathetic site surely deserved it. It’s headline was:

North Carolina Legalizes Call Girls For Politicians

After a few smart-enough-to-know-better-but-apparently-having-an-off-day Facebook friends posted links to this crap with expressions of horror, I checked it out, assuming it was a hoax. Well, it wasn’t a hoax, exactly, just a dishonest, misleading, sensational bit of link bait. That’s not what the story is about.

Equally dumb but not quite as dishonest was the Daily Beast, which headlined its incompetent story...

North Carolina Lobbyists Can Officially Screw Politicians Legally.

What’s wrong with this one? It also has nothing to do with the facts of the story, and if you think about it, is as reasonable a headline as Annie Says The Sun Will Come Up Tomorrow. There is no place anywhere in the United States of America where it is illegal for adults in any occupation to have consensual sexual relations with any other adult regardless of his or her occupation. So, to put it in the crude, also link-baiting terms of the Daily Beast—stay classy, you left wing hacks!-–all of these are also accurate: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, Romance and Relationships

Ick, Not Ethics: The Incredible Head Transplant

OK, this looks unethical...

OK, this looks unethical…

I adore stories that clarify ethical distinctions, and this is the third one we’ve had recently. First we had the classic “Awww! Factor” case of the Down Syndrome cheerleader. Then, close on its heels, we got “Downton Abbey’s” finale, which illustrated the ethics fallacy of Consequentialism as deftly as any textbook.

Now we have the startling report of impending head transplants:

The world’s first attempt to transplant a human head will be launched this year at a surgical conference in the US. The move is a call to arms to get interested parties together to work towards the surgery.

The idea was first proposed in 2013 by Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group in Italy. He wants to use the surgery to extend the lives of people whose muscles and nerves have degenerated or whose organs are riddled with cancer. Now he claims the major hurdles, such as fusing the spinal cord and preventing the body’s immune system from rejecting the head, are surmountable, and the surgery could be ready as early as 2017.

Canavero plans to announce the project at the annual conference of the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons (AANOS) in Annapolis, Maryland, in June.

Predictably, this news prompted a wave of “Futurama” jokes and bad puns. It also prompted dozens of hysterical stories online and in print pronouncing the yet-to-be performed operation as “a terrible idea” and obviously unethical. A Daily Beast “expert” with the trust-inspiring name “Docbastard” condemned the practice with this wisdom:

That’s the funny thing about ethics—it may be impossible to say why something is wrong, but can be easy to see that it isn’t.

Yeah, that is funny. It is also false, and incredibly stupid. If one cannot say “why” something is wrong–you know, things like interracial marriage, interracial adoption, homosexuality, gay marriage, plastic surgery, income tax, integration, eating meat on a Friday…gee, let’s see how far back into cultural history we need to go to get the list up to a thousand! My guess: no further than 1900, if that far—there’s an excellent chance that it only seems wrong because 1) nobody’s bothered to analyze it thoroughly and objectively, and 2) the Ick Factor, which is when we mistake strangeness, shock and surprise, all visceral, emotional reactions, for ethics.

Let’s actually think about the “Doc’s” provocative questions about the theoretical procedure that he seems to think clinch the argument that head transplants are “easy” to identify as unethical. He writes, Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Bioethics, Ethics Dunces, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

Ethics Dunces: The Republican “Base”

National religion

Public Polling Policy surveyed 316 Republican primary voters—the hard core— from February 20th to 22nd to measure their attitudes and policy views, as well as their current preferences for President. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 5.5%. The results are here.

The headlines will be about the candidate rankings, which are meaningless at this point. The valuable revelation, especially for Democrats who want to mercilessly mock their Republican friends, if they have any, and Republicans who want to drown themselves out of hopelessness and shame are…

A. The graphic above, showing that 57% of the Republicans polled want to establish a national religion, Christianity, and

B. The fact that only 37% believe in evolution. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, Science & Technology, U.S. Society

KKK Wednesday: This Is Why It’s Unethical To Be Ignorant

"We're going for doughnuts!"

“We’re going for doughnuts!”

How in the world, you might wonder, would a Krispy Kreme promotion called “KKK Wednesday” get the green light from an American corporation, even the British affiliates of that corporation, and even though the promotion occurred in Hull, a city in Yorkshire?

The disturbing answer is that despite the internet, Google,  public education, and nearly a century’s history of vile acts of murder and racism that received world-wide attention, recognizing the significance of the letters KKK requires intellectual curiosity, consciousness, and a good faith effort to have a bare minimum of knowledge about the world around us.

KKK was intended to stand for “Krispy Kreme Klub.” How many people do you think vetted the promotion without a single neuron firing? My guess: high double figures, maybe more. In other settings, such carelessness kills people, destroys companies, and starts plagues and wars.

KKK promotion

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Marketing and Advertising

The President’s Irresponsible And Untrue “One in Five Women Are Raped” Claim

In a video that aired during the Grammy Awards on Feb. 8, President Obama stated, as President of the United States and a certifiable hero to the kind of citizens who watch the Grammy Awards, this:

“Right now, nearly one in five women in America has been a victim of rape or attempted rape.”

Let’s begin with the fact that this is false, or at least, there is no reason to believe it is true, or even close to true. (More about this in a minute.) Was the President’s statement a lie? We can’t tell. If the President believes that rape is so common that 20% of all women are raped, then what he said is not a lie (a false statement knowingly made by the speaker in order to deceive), which leads to some uncomplimentary conclusions:

a. He has a remarkably low opinion of his own nation and culture…but then we knew that, didn’t we?

b. He believes what he is told without challenging it or examining an assertions’ origin, methodology and assumptions. Really? This guy is supposed to be brilliant. I would think such a jaw-dropping and frightening statistic would mandate some examination, but see a.

c.  Why hasn’t this been a major focus of his administration? Isn’t the President alarmed about this? Why is the Attorney General running around the country holding the hands of parents of dead kids who attack police officers and fighting attempts to make voters prove who they are at the polls if women are being raped like The U.S. is the Congo? Why is the Presidentusing his time to make faces on videos to sell Obamacare? Isn’t this clearly a reason to make one of his “I will not rest” speeches, in this case not resting until the rape frequency in the Land of the Free is lower than that of a Columbia ghetto? He believes 20% of the women in the country under his stewardship  being raped in their lifetimes doesn’t rate mentioning in his “if wishes were horses” State of the Union, and relegates this horrendous health and crime emergency to…the Grammys?

If Obama doesn’t know if the stat is true, but said it anyway, then he was irresponsible. He’s President of the United States; people believe him, even after the shattered pledge of transparency and “If you like  your health care plan…” and the “red line” and all the rest. He can not fairly, honestly, ethically state that something is true when he doesn’t know whether it is true or not. That is a lie, then: not the statistic itself, but the implication that he believes it.

Or he knows the statement is false, and made it to deceive, because the ends justifies the means.

In the discussion following last week’s post about the persistence of the false narrative that Bush’s 2000 electoral vote victory was “stolen,” I briefly referenced the now mostly abandoned fake “1 in five” statistic  on campus rape, the one that prompted the 2014 Unethical Quote of the Year from Senator Claire McCaskill when it was debunked. This prompted blog warrior Liberal Dan to re-state the President’s proposition, since he is one of those people who continue to believe the President despite all evidence to the contrary. “One in 5 women are raped,” he wrote, unequivocally, linking to a 2011 New York Times study.

I wish I had the time and space to muse about what it says about an intelligent American when a stat like that one, whether it is used by the Times, the President, or Lena Dunham, doesn’t set off his or her ethics alarms, Fake-Stat-O-Meter and bullshit buzzer. This is what happens, though, when the President makes a factual assertion. I knew the stat was crap; I just don’t have the time to prove it’s crap to people who want to believe it. I assumed someone would pretty quickly, and sure enough, the Washington Post’s hard-working, liberal-biased but diligently trying to compensate Fact-checker Glenn Kessler came through.

In his Washington Post column today, Kessler gives us the results of his research into Obama’s lazy/irresponsible/dishonest claim. His findings? Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society

Big Lies Die Hard

No, this was no way to pick a President..

No, this was no way to pick a President..

It is clear after nearly 15 years that bitter Democrats will always believe that the 2000 Presidential election was “stolen,” just as the losing parties in 1824, 1876 and 1988 claimed those elections were stolen. (In 1876, the election was stolen.) But as the cliche goes, while they have a right to their opinion, they do not have a right to their own facts. I understand why Democrats flogged this myth during the first term of the Bush Presidency—it was irresponsible, dishonest and divisive, and helped make political discourse the vile swill it is today, but I understand it. However, history should not be permanently warped by strategic lies.

The 2000 Election Big Lie turned up again today, in an indignant letter to the Washington Post. George Will had written a column condemning third party Presidential candidates for warping elections, using Ralph Nader’s quixotic 2000 run as an example and claiming that Nader cost Gore the White House. Will was wrong. Nader ran on his usual “pox on both parties” platform, and nobody knows how his voters would have split if he hadn’t run, or how many of them would have voted at all. Nader’s lawyer, Oliver Hall, protested against Will’s analysis in a letter to the editor, properly pointing out that a chaos-theory illustrating confluence of factors led to Gore’s narrow electoral college loss, not the least of which was that Gore was an inept candidate. (The person most responsible for Gore’s defeat, of course, was Bill Clinton.)

That correct interpretation, however, runs counter to the Big Lie, so partisan reader Bill Yue reiterated it today. His letter claimed that “the removal of any one of those elements ” mentioned by Hall would “likely have put Gore in the White House,” “for example, if the Supreme Court had allowed the recount to continue.” Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society