Tag Archives: trust

Not Diversity, But Bigotry

No whites

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

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Filed under U.S. Society

Ethics Observations On “The Kissing Congressman” Scandal

 

Passionate Kiss

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

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Romance and Relationships, Workplace

Further Thoughts On “The Vampire Candidate”

dracula for congress

I don’t want to make this Vampire Day, but after reading the comments so far on today’s Ethics Quiz involving Florida Congressional candidate/ fantasy vampire role-play enthusiast Jake Rush, I realize that the original post omitted some important points and queries. Here, in no particular order, are my further thoughts:

  • The Ick Factor? Both conservative and liberal commentators are ridiculing Rush, essentially concluding that his hobby disqualifies him as a serious candidate. The most quoted source referred to the images embraced by Rush’s role-playing group as “disturbing,” “bizarre,” and “unsettling.” Do these reactions signal a rejection of Rush’s values, or is this a clear-cut example of the “Ick Factor,” which is often mistaken for unethical conduct? Strange does not mean wrong or unethical.
  • Trust. When we elect leaders, we must trust them. “Strange” by definition suggests unpredictability; if we don’t understand why people do what they do, it is hard for us to know how they will behave, and if we don’t know how they will behave, we can’t rationally trust them.
  • Integrity. I should have raised the issue of integrity, for it is critical to the problem. Integrity is essential to trust, and a candidate like Rush raises the question: “Who, or what, is this guy?” Is he a “straight-shooting” conservative who likes to play vampire in his spare time, just like some politicians like to play poker or watch synchronized swimming (now that’s what I call weird), or is he a wannabe creature of the night who is just playing a conservative Republican in the daytime to conform to the expectations of conventional society? If there is doubt about that, then his integrity is in question.

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Government & Politics, Leadership, The Internet, U.S. Society

Ethics Quiz: Trust and the Vampire Candidate

jake-rushConservative Republican candidate Jacob A. Rush, a 35-year-old attorney, has begun a campaign in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District to win the primary against incumbent U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, a Tea Party stalwart seeking a second term. Rush’s campaign website portrays  him  as a “conservative straight shooter,”and he may indeed be that. A Florida blog uncovered the fact that Rush is also, however, a long-time member of the Mind’s Eye Society,  “a nationwide community of gothic-punk role-players who take on the personas of vampires and other supernatural beings” for fantasy battles “against their own bestial natures, hunters, and each other.”

It’s all fun and games with improvisational theater tossed in, though with a decidedly adult set of themes. Rush liked ( likes?) to play a character named “van de Winst”, a lusty vampire, and photos of the lawyer were found on the web showing him and/or members of his club, playing vampire,  burning books, aiming shotguns at dogs, pretending to be demons, displaying Satanic symbols, being chained and gagged…you know, that kind of thing. Fun stuff.

After this all came out—how could he think it would not?—Rush explained in a press release:

“All my life, I’ve been blessed with a vivid imagination from playing George Washington in elementary school to dressing up as a super hero last Halloween for trick or treaters. Any cursory review of the Internet will show that I have played heroes and villains…. I have never hid nor shied away from disclosing my hobby activities. When I was hired at the Sheriff’s office, I fully disclosed my gaming and theatre background on the application, and these hobbies posed absolutely no problem or raised any flags. In fact, when applying for undercover work, these hobbies were considered an advantage, so much so my shift lieutenant nicknamed me ‘Shakespeare.’”

And he included this photo of him and his wife…

Rush and wife

…wisely choosing not to send this one:

Rush vanpire

WOW.

And thus your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for today is….

Is it  Jacob Rush’s unusual personal hobby relevant to his ability to serve in Congress?

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

I Repeat: April Fools Day Is Not For Ethical Professionals

april-fools-day-banner

In a much attacked post here way back in 2010, I offered some ethical guidelines for April Fool’s Day, which was just beginning to get out of hand. I was right, my critics were wrong, and maybe some of the mockers who are now trying to figure out when their favorite news organization is lying to them today for fun, as opposed to the rest of the year when it lies to them out of bias or incompetence, are beginning to appreciate my position.

I just watched three different morning news shows that contained fake news or commentary that the reporters and anchors, at least, seemed to think was hilarious. In one case, on Fox, conservative talk-show host Laura Ingraham dead-panned a remarkably even-handed and fair explanation for HHS Secretary Sibelius’s much-maligned TV silence when asked about the Affordable Care Act’s unpopularity.  April Fool! Laura wasn’t being fair or objective, she was just tricking Fox’s audience into being angry at her for being fair and objective, or, in my case, admiring her integrity for pointing out that the incident had more than one plausible interpretation. Got me, Laura. I just heard an NPR host plead with the audience not to regard the upcoming segment as a hoax because of the date, an especially difficult plea since NPR springs virtual hoaxes on its audience all year.

The first and most important of my April Fools guidelines was this:

1. April Fools’ Day tricks are not for professionals to play on those who depend on them, trust them, or otherwise rely on them for information or services, unless there is a special relationship as well. The risks of harm and abuse are too great.

The succeeding four years have validated my position. Journalism, government and politics are the prime examples. CNN played a video that showed Jay Carney crowing yesterday about the Affordable Care Act’s success even as the Healthcare.gov website had crashed. Wait..is this a joke? Did the Obama White House film this for fun and games? They wouldn’t do this, you say? Government officials don’t use their high office for jokes and hoaxes? Really?

Sen. Ted Cruz, also on Fox, showed his new tattoo, apparently an April Fools’ joke, but also said he was certain that the Affordable Care Act would be repealed. Which is more likely, that the AFA will be repealed, or that wacky Ted Cruz would get a tattoo? Slate has a post up by someone called Rehan Salan, which is, clearly, a clever anagram for “En Anal Rash” or something, arguing that adults without children should be forced to pay extra taxes to support parents. Hah! Good one, Slate! That should turn the “pro choice” crowd on its head: lets; punish the choice not to have children via a penalty—I’m sorry, Chief Justice Roberts, a tax, wink-wink. Wait…that isn’t a joke? Ok, well, I’m sure about this, then: that fake video showing famous tough guy Don Baylor, a record holder for being hit by pitches when he played and now a coach for the Los Angeles Angels, “breaking his leg” catching the ceremonial first pitch of the baseball season. April Fools, right ESPN? No????

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Professions, The Internet, U.S. Society

Legal, Unethical, and Despicable: The Seattle Mariners’ Contract Squeeze Play On Randy Wolf

"We made Mr. Wolf an offer he couldn't refuse. Oddly, he refused it."

“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.

Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Sports

Rationalizing Corruption

But remember: the trains ran on time!

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.

Next question?

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

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society

When The Truth Hurts, But A Lie Will Hurt More

see_no_evil_hear_no_evil_speak_no_evil

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

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Filed under Around the World, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media

Jumbo* of The Month: Hillary Clinton

Charging Elephant

“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

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Ethics Quotes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Jumbo, Leadership, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce: Howard Kurtz…One Way Or The Other

Radner as "Baba Wawa." Walters, oddly, never felt the need to respond...

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

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Dunces, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media