It has troubled me for decades, troubles me still, and I know it troubles others. How can the double standard of prejudice and discrimination so often embraced by various minority groups in the United States continue to be respected and tolerated? To me, this not only seems self-evidently wrong, but also inevitably destructive. You may not gain my support by cautioning me against favoring members of groups that I belong to, and yet openly discriminate against those same groups on behalf of your own.
I raised this issue back in 2011, when Christiane Amanpour, then the host of ABC’s Sunday morning public issues show, brazenly led three male-bashing female guest commentators in a discussion of how much better the world would work with more female leaders who were not addled by all that testosterone. I wrote, and none too happily,
“An all-male panel smugly talking about how “Estrogen really is a problem” and how decisions made in the throes of PMS are inherently untrustworthy would guarantee a feminist march on ABC headquarters, blogger and op-ed fury, NOW declarations of war and the rolling of network heads.When he was president of Harvard, Lawrence Summers was run out of his job by faculty and feminist fury when he suggested that it was possible that differences between the genders might be part of the explanation for the under-representation of women in the worlds of science and mathematics. Yet I just watched the host of a mainstream news program aggressively participate in a stacked and rigged discussion that began with the unchallenged presumption that men—not just Weiner, or Dominique Strauss-Kahn, or some men, or many men, but men as a monolithic, homogenous, stereotyped group—-are fatally handicapped by their hormones and brain-wiring when it comes to leadership and management.”
You know what? I don’t like groups that stereotype and discriminate against me.
But this was hardly the most egregious example, nor the most recent. Consider:
Case study #1: Pro-Gay Bigotry In D.C. Continue reading
Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La), a married freshman Republican congressman who campaigned by proclaiming his Christian, pro-family values, was seen on leaked surveillance video from his district office embracing and kissing the Congressman’s 33-year-old scheduler, also married, Melissa Anne Hixon Peacock. McAllister apologized, saying
“There’s no doubt I’ve fallen short and I’m asking for forgiveness. I’m asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve. Trust is something I know has to be earned whether you’re a husband, a father, or a congressman. I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I’ve disappointed. From day one, I’ve always tried to be an honest man. I ran for Congress to make a difference and not to just be another politician. I don’t want to make a political statement on this, I would just simply like to say that I’m very sorry for what I’ve done.”
Meanwhile, Mrs. Peacock has been dismissed from her job, and reportedly her marriage is shattered.
Some ethics observations: Continue reading
“We made Mr. Wolf an offer he couldn’t refuse. Oddly, he refused it.”
What is it worth to a baseball team to save a million bucks? Apparently it’s worth being shunned by future players for being sleazy and dishonest.
Oh, it was all legal, don’t get me wrong. The Seattle Mariners, who, it should be noted, recently signed second-baseman Robinson Cano to a ten year contract averaging 24 million dollars a season, inked a deal with veteran pitcher Randy Wolf that guaranteed him a paltry million dollars if he made the team’s roster based on his performance in Spring Training. Sure enough,Wolf pitched well and not only made the team, but was told that he would be in the Mariners’ starting rotation.
There was a catch, however. Wolf was told that his being officially named to the team’s 2014 25 man roster to start the season—that’s next week, baseball fans—was contingent on him signing a legal document known as a 45-day advanced-consent release form. This would allow the Mariners to release or demote Wolf after the first 45 days of the regular season and be obligated to only pay him a pro-rated portion of his million dollar salary, rather than the entire one million dollars his original deal guaranteed. In other words, “Gotcha!” The perfect Catch 22. “Yes, you are guaranteed a million dollars, Mister Wolf, if you make the team, and you made the team. We keep our promises. We want you on the team. But if you don’t waive that guarantee, we won’t let you make the team.“
But remember: the trains ran on time!
It is a debate that erupts here periodically: Do you vote for the honest and trustworthy politician whose policies you despise, or the lying rogue who stands for all the “right” things? Washington Post editor Hilary Krieger raises the issue with gusto in the Sunday Washington Post, with an essay titled (in the print edition) “Is a little political corruption all that bad?”
Yes, Hilary, it is.
But perhaps that’s not sufficient to kill this particular snake, so let’s delve a bit deeper into this truly fatuous, ethically obtuse article. Continue reading
In the early stages of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, President Bill Clinton infamously asked his then advisor-polster Dick Morris to research whether a lie or the truth would best serve Clinton’s purposes. (Morris’s recommendation based on his polling data: “Lie your head off.“) The attitude that truth is just a conduct option with no more or less to recommend in it than various versions of spin, deceit, obfuscation, misrepresentation, fabrication and denial is endemic to politics, which is not to say that it is necessary or healthy. Lies can be justifiable tools of the trade in the utilitarian world of politics and government, but if there isn’t an accepted recognition that they are inherently harmful, lazy, undermine trust and tend to become addicting (See: Dick Morris and Bill Clinton), then the cure becomes worse than the disease.
The Presidency of Barack Obama should be remembered as a stark lesson in the danger of avoiding unpleasant truths. What focused my attention on this was an interview that featured journalist Geraldo Rivera opining that describing President Obama’s performance in the wake of the Ukrainian incursion “weak” was “unhelpful,” “borderline patriotic” and “accomplishes absolutely nothing but scoring cheap political points in the near future.” At the same time, this morning’s Washington Post is filled with commentators struggling with the Democratic Party’s Obamacare problem, following the disheartening defeat of Alex Sink in a special Congressional election in Florida. Some of those commentators argue that beleaguered Democrats should aggressively make the case that the Affordable Care Act is a roaring success. Or as Dick Morris would put it, “Lie your head off.” Continue reading
“The claims by President Putin and other Russians that they had to go into Crimea and maybe further into Eastern Ukraine because they had protect the Russia minorities—that is reminiscent of claims that were made back in the 1930s when Germany under the Nazis kept talking about how they had to protect German minorities in Poland, in Czechoslovakia, and elsewhere throughout Europe. So I just want everybody to have a little historic perspective. I’m not making a comparison certainly, but I am recommending that we perhaps can learn from this tactic that has been used before.”
—-Hillary Clinton on the Crimea crisis, showing that she has learned deceit and dishonesty at Bill’s knee, or, perhaps, was really the teacher all along.
‘I’m not making a comparison: I’m just comparing them. I’m not saying Putin is like Hitler, I’m just saying he’s acting like Hitler. I’m not making a comparison; I just want to evoke the specter of Hitler’s expansion over Europe while everyone looked the other way without being accused of doing so.’
And adding “certainly” makes it all undeniable.
Some observations, in the throes of disgust: Continue reading
Radner as “Baba Wawa.” Walters, oddly, never felt the need to respond…
Maybe the ethics component in the title is gilding the lily in this case. Fox’s Kurtz, in attacking what he perceives as the unfairness of Stephen Colbert’s barbs, certainly misunderstands the ethics of Colbert’s craft, but what he primarily proves is that he’s a dunce…what kind of dunce, it’s difficult to tell. Is he the kind of dunce who can’t take a joke? Or is he the kind of dunce who doesn’t realize he should leave the gags to professionals?
The former media ethics watchdog for the Washington Post, CNN and the Daily Beast, now playing that role for Fox News (all oxymoron jokes gratefully accepted), says that he has finally had his fill of being mocked by Colbert, the Comedy Central satirist whose gimmick is playing a conservative fool in order to ridicule real ones.
“It’s about time someone took on Stephen Colbert,” Kurtz wrote in what is either serious piece on Fox News Insider, or a criminally inept attempt at ironic humor. “This guy—a fake anchor if ever there was one—has been maligning hard-working journalists for too long. Journalists like me. In an effort to get a few cheap laughs, this Comedy Central clown took my work out of context and, worse, engaged in selective editing. It was nothing less than a deliberate attempt to mislead viewers.”
Uh, Howie? Continue reading