Tag Archives: misrepresentation

Unspoken Ethical Quote Of The Month: Outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

Attn. General Holder Testifies At Senate Judiciary Hearing On Justice Dept Oversight

“No, I respect the motives and intentions of my critics. Those who have opposed me genuinely disagree with my philosophy and approach to the job, and I would never denigrate them by attributing their opposition to race, bias, or anything but the same passion and belief in their goals for the nation that I have in mine.”

What Attorney General Eric Holder could have and should have answered in his “exit interview” with Politico’s Mike Allen, in answer to the question, “Now, there clearly have been times …when you have felt disrespected on Capitol Hill. How much of that do you think relates to race?”

Holder didn’t answer this way, however.

Holder is black, and consistent with the message that has been trumpeted from the White House, Democrats, the Congressional Black Caucus, and Presidential advisor and Holder consort Al Sharpton for more than six years, any and all problems, criticism, misfortune or failure affecting African Americans can plausibly, reasonably, credibly, and advantageously be attributed to racial bias or outright racism.

Thus Holder’s actual answer to Allen was…

“Yeah, there have been times when I thought that’s at least a piece of it.”

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society

The Washington Post Tries To Hide A Muslim Attack From Its Readers: What’s Going On Here? Or Rather, What The HELL Is Going On Here?

Now, see, THIS Post has informative headlines...

Now, see, THIS Post has informative headlines…

I have no hidden agenda; I really would like to know.

Sharp-eyed media critic Ian Tuttle noticed how the Washington Post headlined a news story from Detroit in which a Muslim man, Terrence Lavaron Thomas, asked two strangers at a Southfield, Mich., bus stop whether or not they were Muslim and when they answered in the negative, stabbed them with a  knife. This was the headline:

wapo-headline1

What? That suggests the opposite of what happened!  We are told “conservatives” on social media objected. Really? Only conservatives are bothered by incompetent, misleading or intentionally false news reports? Anyway, the Post’s editors said, apparently, “Oh, all right, if you’re going to be all picky about it,” and changed the headline to this…

WaPo Muslim headline 2 - revised

Except that “Are you Muslim? No? THEN DIE, INFIDEL!!!” is not what I or any fair and rational person would call a “discussion.”  Once again those pesky “conservatives”—you know, the ones who don’t appreciate the press lying to them–complained, so again the Post changed the headline:

WaPo Muslim headline3

So now that irrelevant Muslim angle is missing entirely, because this has no possible relationship to  Muslim extremists around the world burning people alive, cutting off the heads of Christians, kidnapping and killing children or any of that nasty stuff. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Religion and Philosophy

Comment of the Day: “The President’s Irresponsible And Untrue ‘One in Five Women Are Raped’ Claim”

numbers_statistics_stats

Rich (in CT) adds a superb and learned enhancement to the day’s post about President Obama’s dubious rape claims during the Grammy Awards.  It raises a question I hadn’t considered before: is part of the problem that researchers are as clumsy in their understanding of language as liberal arts types are in their use of statistics and numbers? The word “rape” has meaning; this is no place for Humpty Dumpty’s habit of using words to mean whatever one pleases. [“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ ’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”—― Lewis Carroll, “Through the Looking Glass” ] Rich writes, “This data is important, as mental health and sexual disease propagation is affected by such contact, even if the traditional criteria imaged for “rape” is not met. ” I’ll concede that the data is important, but shouldn’t important data be clearly and accurately described? The data isn’t about rape! It’s about a variety of conduct linked by the researchers that they chose to call “rape,” knowing, presumably, that people who never read the data will take the misleading “rape” description and use it to confuse, persuade, deceive, and engage in scaremongering for political gain.

Rich writes that “not enough evidence is given to suggest that either study is unethical in and of itself.” Isn’t using vague, overly broad and misleading terminology for a study that is going to be made public intrinsically unethical—irresponsible, incompetent, untrustworthy?

Here is Rich (in CT)’s enlightening Comment of the Day on the post “The President’s Irresponsible And Untrue ‘One in Five Women Are Raped’ Claim”: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Research and Scholarship

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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No More And The Ethics Of Awareness

NO-MORE-MUG-11ozI was aware of the flimsiness of No More, the NFL’s designated mouth piece to show that it cares about domestic violence, when I recently reviewed the Super Bowl ads. It wasn’t the place to raise the issue, but now Deadspin writer Diana Moskovitz had done so in explosive fashion, in a piece called “No More, The NFL’s Domestic Violence Partner, Is A Sham.”

I think “sham” is a bit harsh, but her point is well-taken: the organization doesn’t really do anything to stop domestic violence. Its sole goal is to raise awareness of the problem by creating a “brand” that can be plastered on t-shirts, coffee mugs, mouse pads, stickers and tote bags. Oh—there’s also a pledge you can take. That’s about it. If you expected that the organization giving us the frightening ad featuring the terrified woman calling 911 was more than this, I guess “sham” may be fair. “Scam” may even be fair.

As Moslkovitz explains with barely restrained anger, No More is all about PR and feeling virtuous. It was inspired by the AIDS ribbons, which in turn were inspired by the yellow ribbons people wore to show support for the Iranian hostages in 1979, which in turn were inspired by…a Tony Orlando and Dawn song. As with Michelle Obama’s hashtag appeal to brutal Nigerian terrorists, none of these symbolic efforts are substantive, but they do make the good, caring people who perform them feel like they are solving a problem. Of course, they aren’t. Moskovitz:

“You know why they are doing this? Because it works. Because it makes money. Because we love pretending to care, especially when a brand makes it easier for us to do by removing all the pain, horror, darkness, and self-reflection and turning concern for others into products—preferably ones that can be worn. Do those teenage boys wearing “I Heart Boobies” really care about breast cancer? Probably not, but at least they’re thinking about it, right? And even if they don’t think about it, they generated money (a nickel on the dollar, maybe, but better than nothing) for a good cause!

This is how low our standards are. Gesture toward a good cause and you’re practically unassailable. No More gave Goodell and the NFL a cheap and perfect way out of a public relations disaster and we shouldn’t be surprised. We do the exact same thing every day when we throw on our Toms, our pink baseball hats, and our latest rubber bracelet of choice, shopping our way into another day with pure hearts and clean consciences.”

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Ethics Observations On Charles Blow’s “At Yale, the Police Detained My Son”

The esteemed columnist. If Yale police had known it was his son, they would have backed off: this is why it's important for the elite to teach their kids "Do you know who I am?" at a young age.

The esteemed NYT columnist. If Yale police had known it was his son, they would have backed off: this is why it’s important for the elite to teach their kids the phrase “Do you know who I am?” at a young age.

Charles Blow is a talented info-graphic op-ed columnist for the New York Times. he is also and African American who repeatedly pushes the narrative that the U.S. is a racist society hostile to blacks and black men in particular. Afew days ago, he authored an accusatory op-ed piece after his son, a Yale student, was detained at gunpoint by a campus police officer. Apparently Young Blow fit the description of a campus burglar, and was subjected to the indignity of being forced to the ground, identifying himself, and answering questions. Blow immediately decided to use his position of prominence with the Times to air a family grievance. Announcing that he was “fuming,” Blow questioned the officer’s procedure—

“Why was a gun drawn first? Why was he not immediately told why he was being detained? Why not ask for ID first? What if my son had panicked under the stress, having never had a gun pointed at him before, and made what the officer considered a “suspicious” movement? Had I come close to losing him? Triggers cannot be unpulled. Bullets cannot be called back.”

…and then concluded thusly:

“I am reminded of what I have always known, but what some would choose to deny: that there is no way to work your way out — earn your way out — of this sort of crisis. In these moments, what you’ve done matters less than how you look. There is no amount of respectability that can bend a gun’s barrel. All of our boys are bound together.”

“What you’ve done matters less than how you look.” Charles Blow is nearly engaging in code here, but his meaning is clear. His son was treated prejudicially because of the color of his skin. His son, the accomplished, Ivy League-going offspring of a distinguished journalist was treated like a criminal—how dare they!— because of how he looked, because he was black. “Some would choose to deny it” —you know: racists, conservatives, whites, Republicans—but “all of our boys are bound together.” Translation: we all look the same to racist white cops.
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Ethics Alarms Encore: “Aesop’s Unethical and Misleading Fable: The North Wind and the Sun”

north-wind-and-the-sun-story-oil-painting

[ I vowed that the next time I got a comment on this post, I would publish it again. It hails from four years ago, when  Ethics Alarms got a quarter of the traffic it gets now. I confess that I wrote it on a whim, having been talking with my wife about how Aesop’s Fables were joining Mother Goose stories,  Edward Lear limericks and American folks song in the Discarded Bin of our culture and then stumbling upon a fable I had either never read before or forgotten about.  To my surprise the post attracted intense criticism from fans of the story—I even had to ban a commenter who got hysterical about it—and the post joined a very eclectic group of early essays here that get considerable and consistent readership every week. Apparently there are a lot of Sun-worshipers out there. Anyway, since you probably missed it the first time, here it is.]

Today, by happenstance, I heard an Aesop’s Fable that I had never encountered before recited on the radio. Like all Aesop’s Fables, at least in its modern re-telling, this one had a moral attached , and is also a statement of ethical values. Unlike most of the fables, however, it doesn’t make its case. It is, in fact, an intellectually dishonest, indeed an unethical, fable.

It is called “The North Wind and the Sun,” and in most sources reads like this:

“The North Wind and the Sun disputed as to which was the most powerful, and agreed that he should be declared the victor who could first strip a wayfaring man of his clothes. The North Wind first tried his power and blew with all his might, but the keener his blasts, the closer the Traveler wrapped his cloak around him, until at last, resigning all hope of victory, the Wind called upon the Sun to see what he could do. The Sun suddenly shone out with all his warmth. The Traveler no sooner felt his genial rays than he took off one garment after another, and at last, fairly overcome with heat, undressed and bathed in a stream that lay in his path.”

The moral of the fable is variously stated as “Persuasion is better than Force” , or “Gentleness and kind persuasion win where force and bluster fail.”

The fable proves neither. In reality, it is a vivid example of dishonest argument, using euphemisms and false characterizations to “prove” a proposition that an advocate is biased toward from the outset. Continue reading

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