Tag Archives: lies

Facebook’s Unconstitutional News Hoax Policy

I've got your backs, you contemptible jerks...

I’ve got your backs, you contemptible jerks…

Boy, there’s a lot of pro-censorship sentiment going around these days. I wonder why?

The latest comes from Facebook, which now is going to attempt to shield us from “hoaxes.” I don’t trust the government to decide what I should read and I don’t trust Facebook to do it either. Nobody should.

Back in the sixties, Economist John Kenneth Galbraith wrote papers and books asserting that large corporations were becoming the new nations and states, and that it was their power, not elected governments, that would decide how we lived. Galbraith wasn’t the best professor I aver had (he was the tallest), and his assertions in this realm were certainly exaggerated, but a lot of what he foresaw has come to pass. It is true that the First Amendment prohibition against government censorship of expressive speech doesn’t apply to private entities, but it is also true that huge corporations like Facebook weren’t even a twinkle in the eye of the Founders when that core American value was articulated. Any corporate entity that has the power to decide what millions of Americans get to post on the web is ethically obligated to embrace the same balance of rights over expediency that the Constitution demands of the state, specifically free speech over expediency, period, exclamation point, no exceptions. Embodying Clarence Darrow’s statement that in order for us to have enough freedom, it is necessary to have too much, the Supreme Court has even pronounced outright lies to be protected speech.

For this reason, Facebook’s well-intentioned anti-hoax policies—boy, there’s also a lot of well-intentioned lousy policies going around these days, being applauded for their goals whether they work or not. I wonder why?—add one more offense to core American ideals.

You can read Facebook’s new policy here. The key section: Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising, Rights, The Internet

Comment of the Day: “Of The Good Muslim, Paris, ‘1984’, And The Compulsion To Deny The Truth”

Mulsim women

Left-of-center Ethics Alarms follower deery gets a lot of heat on Ethics Alarms, but he has a much-valued knack for spawning edifying exchanges. In this reply to one of his comments arguing that Christianity and Islam near equivilency in their more extreme positions, Ulrike delivers the Comment of the Day, in the battle following the post, “Of The Good Muslim, Paris, ‘1984’, And The Compulsion To Deny The Truth.”

Here it is:

I’d like to make the claim that 1300 years ago, in almost any society women were the losers but now the distinction can be seen by anyone who has eyes. Christians moved on from those times and their nations became successful world powers. On the other hand, oil seems to be the main driving force behind anything in the Arab League.

And yes, in the beginning Islam had a positive influence on the scientific community in so far as it united the Arabic world which up to that date was splintered into tribes. Arabic became the lingua franca and facilitated the trade of knowledge and commodities. The Arabs become the driving force in translating ancient Greek literature – I could go on and on, the list is long, but I’m too lazy. So while we still lived like Neanderthals, the Arabic world had flourishing cities that were the trade centers of the Orient.

Now here’s the rub: The decline of science and the renunciation of modernity can also be attributed to Islam. How can that be, when I just stated that it was a major factor in the rise of science. Well, not Islam as a religion facilitated this rise but its role in uniting the arabic world economically and territorially. But when the Muslim faith came to be the established force behind everything and anything its disciples started to consolidate the belief that science was equal to renouncing Allah.

If you set yourself the task to name any invention in medicine, chemistry, physics or engineering from the last two hundered years that originated in the Arabic world – you have your answer which faith benefited progress more. Christian society developed towards modernity and Muslim society turned away from it… Continue reading


Filed under Comment of the Day, Gender and Sex, History, Religion and Philosophy

Jumbo! The Substitute Teacher’s Defense


Presenting the first Jumbo* of 2015, and it’s a lulu.

A jury convicted Sheila Kearns, a former substitute teacher in Columbus, Ohio, of four felony counts of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. For some inexplicable reason—she reportedly told a colleague that “those kids see worse” at home— had shown the film “The ABCs of Death” during five periods of a Spanish class at East High School  in April 2013.The movie consists of 26 chapters, each representing a graphic death and representing a letter of the alphabet:  “E is for Exterminate,” “L is for Libido,” ”O is for Orgasm,” “T is for Toilet,” and so on. You know, perfect classroom fare.

Kearns earned her Jumbo for swearing in court that she had no idea what the movie—titled “The ABCs of Death,” remember—was about.  Her attorney said she never would have knowingly showed it. One of her students. however, testified that Kearns watched the 129-minute movie, which presumably would have given her a pretty good idea that it was about, uh, death. And ABC’s….

After watching the movie the jury became convinced, its foreman told reporters, that Kearns might not have been aware of the movie’s content the first time she showed it, but she would have figured it out by by the second, third, fourth and fifth showings.

Can’t slip anything by these twelve!

*Jumbo: a Jumbo is a special Ethics Alarms award for conduct that emulates the gag from the Broadway musical and film “Jumbo,” in which Jimmy Durante, as a circus clown trying to steal an elephant, is caught red-handed by a sheriff, and asked, “Where are you going with that elephant?” “Elephant? What elephant?,” Jimmy replied.


Facts: Seattle PI


Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Observations On Mayor de Blasio’s Refusal To Apologize To His Police Officers

Integrity and leadership are not the same thing, Mayor...

Integrity and leadership are not the same thing, Mayor…

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s relations with his own police force could not be worse, and this is not in the best interest of the citizens both the mayor and the police are duty-bound to serve. Can the rift be repaired?

This week de Blasio ruled out one avenue of peace: he said he would not apologize for his remarks following the Eric Garner grand jury decision not to bring charges against the officer who appeared to precipitate the unarmed black man’s death by using a choke-hold. The mayor said…

“You can’t apologize for your fundamental beliefs. The things that I have said were based on my beliefs, the truth as I know it. Can we do a better job communicating, and listening, and deepening an understanding of what our officers need? Yes.”


I can’t think of a better example of a dilemma where the most ethical conduct is still irresponsible leadership, and thus, from the perspective of a leader’s obligations, unethical.

From an isolated perspective, de Blasio is asserting his integrity. “I could apologize and help smooth over my toxic relationship with the police, but that would require me to be insincere, and I’m not going to do that,” he is saying. He is saying that his constituents can trust him to be straight and honest, and if that means that he must pay a political price, he will pay it. This is admirable, on a human level. Praiseworthy…in a vacuum.

De Blasio, however, doesn’t have the luxury of being ethical in a vacuum. He is the mayor of a city with a lot of problems, controversies, obstacles to effective governance and people in need. The context of all of his words and actions must be his duties to address those issues, and his integrity, in this case, must be subordinate to getting the job he was elected to do done. Continue reading


Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race

Pop Quiz: The Bottom Of The Slippery Slope

Merkel out

What’s missing from the photo above that ran in the ultra-orthodox Jewish newspaper HaMevaser, or The Announcer?

No, the answer isn’t “any Americans,” though that would be correct too.

Why, it’s all the women! German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Paris Mayor Ann Hidalgo and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini were all photoshopped out of the Israeli newspaper.

When you have to have to alter the facts to fit your ideology and world view, this is supposed to trigger an ethics alarm that alerts you to the unpleasant truth that the problem is with you and your biases, conclusions and beliefs, not the facts.

Making people disappear from photos is the most grotesque of such self-indicting strategies, but there are many less spectacular but equally unethical examples, and right at home, right now.  Can you name some?

I’ll get you started with my personal “favorite”:

Hands up

And to answer your question: I’ll stop harping on this one when I stop hearing Ferguson and Mike Brown routinely mentioned as examples of excessive police force and racism.


Spark and Pointer: Rick Jones



Filed under Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Journalism & Media, Race, Religion and Philosophy

The Sixth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2014 (Part 3)


2014 Conflicts of Interest of the Year

  • Conflicted Elected Official: Philadelphia State Senator LeAnna Washington. This is always an entertaining category. Washington was convicted of using her tax-payer financed staff to organize a yearly campaign fundraiser around her birthday party. When one staffer complained that this was illegal, she reportedly replied, according to his grand jury testimony:

“I am the fucking senator, I do what the fuck I want, and ain’t nobody going to change me. I have been doing it like this for 17 years. So stop trying to change me.”

  • Conflicted Journalist: CNN sent Jay Carney, fresh off his assignment as President Obama’s official spokesman, defender and spinmeister, to cover his ex-boss’s speech.
  • Conflicted  “Non-partisan” Watchdog: CREW. The Center For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and its chief, Melanie Sloan, finally came clean (after falsely claiming non-profit status as a non-partisan organization for years) by making David Brock, head of the openly partisan, foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Republican media watchdog Media Matters its Chairman of the Board, essentially merging the two groups.
  • Appearance of Impropriety Award: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La), Republican Whip. It is not certain yet whether Scalise knowingly spoke to a group of white supremacists in 20o2, inadvertently spoke to the group, or just spoke to another group meeting in the same venue before the David Duke-affiliated group of racists started comparing sheets. It isn’t even clear that Scalise knows, but everyone should agree that it looks awful no matter how you categorize it, making the fiasco a classic appearance of impropriety situation. If the Republicans were smart, they would dump him.

Unethical Attire of the Year

Offensive shirt


Unethical Political Candidate of the Year

Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, whose campaign materials were largely plagiarized from the materials other candidates.

Ethically Clueless Voters of the Year

New York’s 11th Congressional District, which contains Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. These alert and ethical citizens sent back to Washington thuggish and crooked Rep. Michael Grimm (R), then facing a 20-count indictment by federal authorities for fraud, federal tax evasion, and perjury, having earlier distinguished himself by threatening to kill a reporter and being recorded doing so.

  Unethical Advertising of the Year

Lawyer Division:

Public Service Announcement Division:

TV Program Division:

The Discovery Channel’s campaign for “Eaten Alive!” which did not, in fact, feature anyone being “eaten alive,” or at all.

Private Sector Product Division:

Halos. Or perhaps this is the Child Abuse Division:

Political Campaign Division:

Wendy Davis, Democratic candidate for Texas Governor, offered an ad attacking her wheelchair- bound opponent that 1) appealed to bias against the disabled 2) misrepresented the duties of a state attorney general 3) misrepresented the facts of the cases the ad referred to and  4)  deceived the public regarding the ethical duties of lawyers, which Davis, a lawyer, presumably understands. Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, Quotes, Religion and Philosophy, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society, Workplace

Comment of the Day: “Of The Good Muslim, Paris, “1984”, And The Compulsion To Deny The Truth”

This was Jeff's submission for "Everyone Draw Muhammad" Day. He's a dead man.

This was Jeff’s submission for “Everyone Draw Muhammad” Day. He’s a dead man.

Long, LONG-time commenter Jeff H., himself a cartoonist, weighs in in the controversy discussed in the previous post, regarding efforts to exonerate radical Islam from any responsibility for the terrorist attack against a French satire publication.

In answer to his final question, I would respond: “It’s true, that’s all.” And yes, I think it’s clear that Muslims are more likely to engage in violent terrorism than other faiths, at least at this time.

Here is Jeff’s Comment of the Day on the post “Of The Good Muslim, Paris, “1984”, And The Compulsion To Deny The Truth”:

Here are my thoughts on it: if you think it would avail you any to talk to one of the men who perpetrated this act and say, “It’s OK! You’re not really Muslim!”, then you can go ahead and say they’re not Muslims.

If you ARE a Muslim who notices the hypocrisy in someone claiming to be a Muslim carrying out an act of terror in defiance of parts of the Koran, I wouldn’t have a problem with them saying he’s not a Muslim.

I saw someone call them “pretend Muslims,” and I sort of like that term, but that sort of implies that they don’t believe in the faith itself, and that’s not really for anyone to say. But if we’re calling them pretend Muslims because they don’t adhere to the parts of the Koran that would mitigate violence, they could call everyone else pretend Muslims for not participating in violence. Or, those who have intercourse before they’re married and trim the edges of their beards could be called “pretend Christians.” Let’s see how far that goes.

I really hate to hand it right to the jerks who will use this against the vast majority of peace-loving Muslims, but trying to deny it just kicks the can down the street. Pretending not only that it has nothing to do with it, but that it doesn’t even exist, ends up having the equal and opposite reaction on the other side that insists all Muslims secretly crave violent revolution.

What is especially bothersome is when people are like, “well, they’re Muslims, what do you expect?” I hate to cry ‘racist,’ but… that is totally racist. It is racist to assume that Muslims are not expected to control their anger, or that they cannot help themselves because of their ethnic background. This is why I was furious when I heard people hoping the perpetrators of the Boston bombing would turn out to be white.

Congratulations, you wretched tin-eared pinheads. You got your wish. The Tsarnaevs were white. They were Caucasian MUSLIMS from Chechnya. I hope that makes some kind of difference to you.

But just because jerks will use this to blame all Muslims (which is deeply regrettable), that doesn’t mean the response is to pretend Muslims are incapable of violence. That’s just carrying water for the next person of any belief who wants to do something unspeakable to their next critic.

What I want to see is a statistical analysis of acts of violence like this, the alleged beliefs of the perpetrator, and see if any group of beliefs makes someone more likely to do something like this. The goal is not to attempt to smother any belief except the belief that your opinion gives you the right to hurt someone else.

Yes, those who perpetrated this attack identified themselves as Muslim. Now the question is: “So what?”


Filed under Around the World, Comment of the Day, Religion and Philosophy