Comment of the Day: “No, It’s Actually Allison Benedikt Who’s A Bad Person”


Here is David Shuster’s superb Comment of the Day, which is wise and greatly appreciated, on the post No, It’s Actually Allison Benedikt Who’s A Bad Person.

“Can we please drop/reform the “liberal” and “conservative” labels already? You state that Benedikt is a bad liberal; not quite true, she is utterly illiberal. She argues for state-compelled coercion circumventing individuals’ choice of how to raise their children. Her argument rests on illogical Marxist claptrap that prioritizes “the good of society” ie: the collective, over individual free will. I take back my previous statement, she is not illiberal, she is positively anti-liberal.

“I realize that this is quibbling over semantics, but in this case a rose by any other name really does smell differently. The Left and Democrats in general have self-identified for decades as “liberal”. While this label may have been appropriate 50 years ago, it certainly is not now. The Republicans’ social conservatism is rightly derided as illiberal in that it expects individuals’ sexual preferences to be dictated by the state. However, the Democrats’ claims of being “liberal” are becoming more laughable everyday; so much so that they have essentially become a parody of the classical liberal values they assure the population that they stand for. In fact, it appears as though the only things the Democrats envision people being free to do are the things the social conservatives oppose; in short, the Republicans want the state in your bedroom, the Democrats want the state everywhere else.

“We don’t have a “conservative” party and a “liberal” party, we have two statist parties with no alternative. Take gay marriage. I gave tentative applause for the Obama admin taking an explicit stand in support of it (truth be told, IMO the true “liberal” stand on this issue would be for the state to get out of the marriage business altogether, straight, gay, polygamous, whatever and let freedom of association dictate how people live with one another, but I guess that makes me a radical…). However, look at the illiberal consequences of this stance; wedding vendors with an admitted religious opposition to gay marriage but no prejudice against gays personally being forced by the government to render services against their will to gay weddings (see NM supreme court case). It’s beyond belief and IMO a violation of the 13th amendment; how can that be considered “liberal”? Continue reading


Diligence. Integrity. Responsibility. Reliability. Trustworthiness

Pete Rose may have been a fool who  gambled on baseball, but he never, ever, failed to run hard to first base.

Pete Rose may have been a fool who gambled on baseball, but he never, ever, failed to run hard to first base.

The Washington Nationals’ blossoming star outfielder Bryce Harper provided a graphic lesson in the importance of these ethical values in the breach of them last night, when his lapse of character on the field contributed to a loss D.C.’s struggling major league baseball team could ill-afford.

The Nats have been one of the baseball season’s greatest disappointments. A team that had the best record of all last season and was widely favored to be a World Series contender, it has barely won more games than it has lost, and is hopelessly trailing the Atlanta Braves for the National League East championship. A wild card berth in this season’s play-offs also looked like a futile hope, until a recent winning streak and a flash of 2012 brilliance allowed fans to dream of a thrilling late-season comeback. It is possible, but time is running out, and every game counts. To have any chance, the Nats have to win games like last night’s against the sub-par Mets.

With the Mets leading 3-2, Washington had mounted a two-out rally, and had runners on first and second base. Harper, the team’s youngest, most exciting and most talented player was up at bat,  but he bounced an easy ground ball to the Mets second baseman. Clearly disgusted with his failure to come though in the clutch, Harper merely jogged to first base. If he had run hard, which was his trademark last season when Harper’s energy and enthusiasm made him an instant fan favorite, he would have reached first base safely, loading the bases, for the fielder unexpectedly booted the ball. But because Harper was loafing, the second baseman had time to recover and throw to first for the out. It was the last chance the Nationals had to tie the score, and they lost a game that the team needed to win. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Dunce: Fox News”

Bradley then, Chelsea now.

Bradley then, Chelsea now.

Responding sharply to a commenter’s expressed criticism of the argument that convicted classified data leaker Bradley, now Chelsea, Manning, sentenced to Federal prison and seeking treatment as a trans-gendered female, ought to have his treatment needs served by prison authorities at public cost, Ethics Alarms’ own expert on such matters (from Australia), provided this fascinating overview of U.S. law and medical ethics on the topic. Here is zoebrain’s Comment of the Day on the recent post flagging Fox News’ juvenile mockery of Manning’s gender issues, Ethics Dunce: Fox News:

“There are two disputes here. The first is whether prisoners have a right to medical treatment, and if so, to what degree.I’ll deal with that first.

“Brown v. Plata 131 S.Ct. 1910 (2011):  “To incarcerate, society takes from prisoners the means to provide for their own needs. Prisoners are dependent on the State for food, clothing, and necessary medical care. A prison’s failure to provide sustenance for inmates “may actually produce physical ‘torture or a lingering death.’ ” ….Just as a prisoner may starve if not fed, he or she may suffer or die if not provided adequate medical care. A prison that deprives prisoners of basic sustenance, including adequate medical care, is incompatible with the concept of human dignity and has no place in civilized society.” Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Fox News

Who approved the playing of Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like A Lady” over photos of convicted Wikileaks leaker Bradley Manning in uniform and in feminine make-up and garb? Fire him.

This isn’t professional, and it isn’t the proper role of journalists to mock the gender identity issues of public or private individuals. Fox is playing to the worst of its core conservative audience, the gay- and trans-hating troglodytes, and thus embraces bigotry as reasonable and humorous. Manning’s sexual problems are of tangential news value, and to the extent that they are, they should be treated with sensitivity and respect, with Fox’s goal being to educate its audience, not to play playground tease.

It would be impressive and appropriate if one of the more responsible, independent Fox on-air personalities—Shep Smith? Megyn? O’Reilly?—would chide their network for this. They should be embarrassed.


No, It’s Actually Allison Benedikt Who’s A Bad Person

Hang in there--the schools will be better in a few generations...

Hang in there–the schools will be better in a few generations…

There may be some persuasive arguments to be made for sending your child to a public school system you don’t trust. The obvious one is that you have no choice, which is true for many Americans. There are also some good reasons to write a “manifesto” called “If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person,” the best of which is to cause people to focus on the problem of the failing and unacceptable public school system, and what should be done about it. However, Allison Benedikt, who actually wrote an article with this title and presumably this intent, failed so miserably at making a coherent and persuasive argument of any kind that her provocative title amounts to an unethical assertion itself: if you are going to make a blanket indictment of the character of millions of people, you had better be able to produce an ethical argument or two, or at least demonstrate that you comprehend a little bit about ethics. Allison doesn’t. Based on this piece, I not only wouldn’t trust her (oh, by the way, Allison, the core objective of ethical conduct in your profession—any profession, actually—is trust) to provide advice about how to educate my child, I wouldn’t trust her to walk my dog. Continue reading

Ethics Mega-Dunces: The Republicans

"You're right, Abe; they're all rock-heads. I'd like to beat some sense into them with a big stick, but I have no arms."

“You’re right, Abe; they’re all rock-heads. I’d like to beat some sense into them with a big stick, but I have no arms.”

Not a single invited member of the Republican leadership accepted an invitation to attend the official March on Washington anniversary event yesterday.

This is practically all that needs to be said. That fact alone is sufficient to show an appalling lack of leadership, respect, common sense, common purpose, values and priorities within the highest reaches of the party.

Everyone had a “good reason,” of course—Boehner, Canter, McConnell, McCain, Romney, both Bushes,  But the excuses don’t matter. A responsible, intelligent, public minded, fair and  statesmanlike political organization would have made certain that a representative delegation attended, and prominently so. How or why no major Republican figures were present is irrelevant. If the commemoration of the March on Washington, Dr. King’s iconic and transformative speech, and the cultural transformation of America that they helped achieve are as important to the party as they must be--because of the GOP’s origins, because of what it represents, and because, dammit, Republicans are Americans, then attendance was mandatory. They manage to make it to the State of the Union and Presidential inaugurations, because they recognize it as important to do so. They should be able to recognize that showing solidarity with the  Democrats, African-Americans and the public on the core principle of equal rights for all is even more important. Continue reading

A Reminder: Why “User Pays” Is Unethical

The View

[Back in 2007, a ridiculous lawsuit spawned an even more ridiculous pronouncement from “The View’s” Rosie O’Donnell, which prompted the following post (originally titled “The Pants, the Judge, and Rosie’s Mouth”)  on this blog’s predecessor,  The Ethics Scoreboard.The two law-related issues that the public has the most difficult time grasping are why lawyers defend guilty people, and this one: the contingent fee system for civil plaintiffs.  While I was pre-occupied the last couple of days by two challenging ethics programs and 10 hours of driving back and forth into West Virginia to deliver one of them, I missed the outbreak of another “loser pays” discussion in one of the comment threads. It’s clearly time to run this one again (I last put it on Ethics Alarms in 2010), with a few tweaks.]

The tale of Roy Pearson, the infamous Washington, DC administrative law judge who is suing his dry cleaner for damages of $65.5 million for a lost pair of pants, would normally warrant scant comment beyond this obvious one: Pierson is a bully, his lawsuit is unreasonable and unethical, and he deserves whatever sanctions the legal system can devise. A Washington Post editorial suggested that the lawsuit, which Pierson says is justified by his inconvenience, court costs, and the mental anguish caused by the loss of his beloved pants, is proof enough of bad character and terrible judgement that he should not be reappointed to another ten-year term.  [ Update: He wasn’t.] That would normally end the issue, freeing me to move on to more important matters, like global warming and American Idol.

And then Rosie O’Donnell opened her big mouth. Continue reading

Twerk Ethics

[The following is blurry, but perhaps that is for the best. It is the only full version of the performance at issue currently available on YouTube, and it may not be there for long. Watch at your own risk.]

To listen to the horrified reaction to Miley Cyrus’s relatively obscene performance at the nationally televised MTV Music Video awards (not so long ago, Miley was that cute tween Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel) , one would think that rock and pop stars intentionally crossing the established lines of symbolic pubic sexual decorum was unprecedented. The furious and shocked condemnations seemed to emanate from some parallel culture, like the alternate universe that implicitly exists on CBS’s updated Sherlock Holmes drama “Elementary” (Sherlock is a precariously recovering alcoholic and drug addict; Dr. Watson is a former Charlie’s Angel) where nobody ever heard of “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” Basil Rathbone or the dancing men cipher, because Arthur Conan Doyle never invented the character. ( The British updated Sherlock, uncreatively titled “Sherlock,” is so far superior to “Elementary” —which isn’t bad–that  it’s unsettling.) Have Isadora Duncan, Josephine Baker, Sally Rand, Elvis, the Stones, Jim Morrison,, Madonna and Christina Aguilera been erased from the past by some music-hating cyborg from a dystrophy future where everyone sings like Matt Munro?

Gross simulated sexual display on television prime time has unethical elements, to be sure. It’s uncivil, to begin with, intentionally placing socially objectionable content before a lot of viewers who don’t want to see it. That’s a breach of respect, but a minor one in this context. Janet Jackson flashed a breast during the Superbowl half-time show, after all: the argument that this was a family event that shouldn’t have been unexpectedly transformed into a peep show was grounded in fact. This week, however, I heard earnest mothers protesting that their delicate pre-teens were watching the MTV awards and had the innocence cruelly seared out of them by the unexpected and horrifying sight of Miley twerking ( simulating sex while dancing—a brand new addition to the Oxford dictionary) on Robin Thicke, dressed as Beetlejuice. Those mothers, not to be excessively cruel myself, are idiots.

What did they expect to see? This is a live show populated by competing shameless self-promoting narcissists who know that the performer who says or does the most outrageous thing will win the publicity game, and be a topic of debate for days or even weeks. Miley won, that’s all. If a child saw something age-inappropriate, the parents can only blame themselves.  This was roughly the equivalent of letting your kid watch “The Walking Dead” and complaining to AMC that the show’s violence is excessive for children. Ethics breach #1 is by any parent who allowed a child to watch this show while wanting to protect the child’s exposure to sexually provocative material. Irresponsible, incompetent, and stupid. Continue reading

Thanks, Lenddo, For A Brave, New…Crummy…World

I hate you, Jeff, and I hate your friends.

I hate you, Jeff, and I hate your friends.

Some ideas that brilliant young people have in the technology field should have remained unthought, and if thought, promptly rejected on the grounds that however clever and profitable, they will make the world a crummier place. This is one of those ideas:

From CNN Money we learn that Lenddo, a new financial lending companies (apparently none of the brilliant young people work in the marketing department—Lenddo???)  has figured out that one’s Facebook friends, and how friendly you are with them,  are a revealing indicator of your credit worthiness. If one of those FB friends is late paying back a loan to Lenddo, their data indicates that it means you are more of a credit risk than if that friend was right on time. Not only that, if the delinquent friend is someone you frequently interact with on the social network, it means you are even more likely to be a deadbeat.

“It turns out humans are really good at knowing who is trustworthy and reliable in their community,” happily crows Jeff Stewart, a co-founder and CEO of Lenddo. “What’s new is that we’re now able to measure through massive computing power.”  Fascinating, Jeff!

You suck. Continue reading

Ayo Kimathi And The Freedom To Hate


Ayo Kimathi, an African-American, is an acquisitions officer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement ( a section of the Department of Homeland Security), and has been, apparently without incident, since 2009.  He also operates and authors a web site, War on the Horizon, which predicts an “unavoidable, inevitable clash with the white race,” and explains how to prepare for it.

The latter fact is none of the government’s business, nor yours, nor mine, and certainly not that of Sarah Palin, who in her own inimitable style of making ignorance catchy and cute, exclaimed on her Facebook page, “His side ‘job’ running the ‘War On the Horizon’ website was reportedly approved by supervisors. Really, Fed? Really? Unflippingbelievable!”

No, it’s not. You can scour the government regulations and ethics requirements all you want—I have (Palin hasn’t.) There is nothing in them that prohibits a government employee in the Executive branch from espousing any political position he pleases, or that bans outside activities that do not interfere with the duties of the employee or constitute a conflict of interest. Nor should there be. As I read the rules, Kimathi had no obligation to ask permission to run his website, because his supervisor had no authority to stop him.

It is called freedom of speech, my friends.

Deal with it. Or rather, cherish it. Continue reading