Three Case Studies In Ethics Obtuseness: The Sheriff, His Victim, And The Hollywood Loudmouth


These Ethics Dunces  don’t get it, and probably never will.

There is nothing quite as frustrating as the ethics offender who receives a clarion lesson in response to the wrongful conduct, and completely misses the point:

Case Study #1 : Alec Baldwin

The serial loudmouth actor, who alternates between banal progressive nostrums and outbreaks of public violence, verbal abuse and denigrating slurs, was inexplicably addressing a gathering of ServiceSource International Inc. employees in the aftermath of his suspension by MSNBC for calling a photographer a “cocksucking fag” and getting caught on video in the process (the network was trying to make sure the actor understood that it was harmful to have one of its show hosts denigrate a strong demographic slice of their viewing audience, and that in the future he should confine his outbreaks of vile language to calling for conservatives to be defecated in and upon). ServiceSource CEO Michael Smerklo, having already booked Baldwin, said that Baldwin’s  insult to  gays created  one of the toughest decisions in his career. Hmmm… pay Alec Baldwin lots of money to impart his wisdom to a tech firm’s employees, or spend the money on something more worthwhile, like, say Cheetos. Wow. What a quandary. And why did the CEO think that Baldwin’s wisdom was worth imparting? CBS says:

“ServiceSource had asked Baldwin to share his views on business largely because of his fictional role as a top General Electric Co. executive on the TV series “30 Rock” and his role as a hard-charging salesman in the 1993 film ‘Glengarry Glen Ross.'”

I sure want to run out and invest in this company. But I digress…

Touching on his recent problems, and after explaining that some of his best friends were gay, Baldwin then said,

“If in any context in the world that we live in today, if any word is remotely offensive to people, then I’m perfectly willing to learn a different word.”

No, Alex, you utter dolt, that is not the lesson here. The real lessons are that you 1) are a hypocrite, giving lip service to respect for gays and then using anti-gay slurs as  insults in public, 2) you used words that are by definition slurs and obviously offensive to virtually all gays. In your weak and addled brain, an instance where your use of undeniable slurs has brought predictable and justifiable criticism communicates the false and unethical principle that we should all censor our vocabulary to purge any words that are “remotely offensive” to anyone. That’s classic brain-dead political correctness, all right, but it has nothing to do with your boorishness at all, and is, in fact, a danger to free thought and expression, creating a means for your ideological kith to stifle expression they can’t rebut with facts or reasoning.

Meanwhile, CEO Smerklo is paying this fool to make his employees less ethical and dumber. Love that free market system!

Case Study #2: Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd

As I assumed and hoped, the unwarranted and illegal charges Sheriff Judd filed against two teenage girls for bullying 12-year-old Florida student Rebecca Ann Sedwick into killing herself (the sheriff didn’t like one of the girls’ unapologetic Facebook posts) have been dropped. This makes sense, because he had no rational basis to make the arrests, and Judd’s self-righteous abuse of power was indefensible. As I wrote in my initial post about the arrests,

“The legal system is supposed to be responsible and dispassionate, and not impulsively arrest people it doesn’t like or the community doesn’t like, twist the laws to teach kids a lesson, or make up crimes as it sees fit after the imaginary crimes were committed. By his statements regarding his reasons for arresting Sedwick’s tween tormenters, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd demonstrated that he is a menace to society, unqualified for office, and a renegade law enforcement officer.”

Judd, however, is unfazed. “What’s important here is not that we get a flashy defense attorney to drive across the state to try to say [the 13-year-old] didn’t do something that she obviously did,” Judd said Wednesday. “[The girl] just turned 13. She needs to recognize, accept responsibility for her actions.”

Fire him! Fire him now. This has nothing to do with a “flashy defense attorney”: a smarter than average hermit crab could have gotten these bogus charges dismissed. The girls didn’t kill anyone. The obnoxious Facebook post was an exercise in free speech. There is no crime of cyber-bullying that meets the facts in this case. The police can not arrest people without laws and evidence to back the arrests up. A sheriff who thinks and acts like Judd is just a vigilante with a badge, and a dumb one at that. He still doesn’t get it—it being his duties, powers, and the limits of his authority—and he needs to be sent off to his new career as a doorstop where his misconceptions don’t hurt anyone.

Case Study #3: The 13-year old bullying teen Judd arrested after her co-bully’s Facebook post

In an interview with the “Today” show Thursday, after the charges against her and the other girl were dropped, the 13-year-old said, “I do not feel I did anything wrong.”

So she doesn’t think mercilessly hounding, insulting, threatening and otherwise preying on an emotionally fragile girl is “wrong”? Good to know. Now I think we need this monstrous creature’s name and photograph so she can be placed in a national “Budding Sociopaths Database.” What she did would have been just as wrong if Rebecca Ann Sedwick hadn’t killed herself. It would have been wrong if  Sedwick had been confident and strong, brushed it all off, become Class President, and risen to a position of fame and fortune, giving lectures at schools about how the bullying she endured made her more determined to succeed. Being cruel is wrong. Mistreating other human beings is wrong. Ignoring the Golden Rule, common decency and compassion is wrong. If this girl’s definition of “not wrong” means nothing more than “I didn’t kill anybody,” the next Polk County sheriff will have something valid to arrest her for soon enough.


Sources: CBS (SF); LA Times



9 thoughts on “Three Case Studies In Ethics Obtuseness: The Sheriff, His Victim, And The Hollywood Loudmouth

  1. Amen to your point that cruelty is still wrong if your victim brushes it off and doesn’t seem effective. My running comment on bullying stories is that the solution isn’t more rules, it’s kids learning how to tell a bully to go pound sand. That’s a lesson I learned well, but I still remember the sting of the verbal lash.

    • The media and grievance groups weren’t all over this one. I don’t think they have no sense of right and wrong, per se, I think they’re just spineless. It’s easy to do the right thing if nobody’s watching.

    • I’m saying that thanks to the gay marriage issue, as well as the Christian Right’s intractable opposition to gays, most gays are Democrats and allied with the full set of liberal positions, which MSNBC promotes relentlessly.

      Facts are never offensive, though they may be inappropriately timed.

      • It irritates the hell out of me.

        Several of my homosexual friends here had long espoused conservative values on practically everything: from strong defense to fiscal responsibility to decentralization of power. But the key item they really cared about was utterly rejected by the Republican Party.

  2. Re Alec Baldwin: We all should know by now that most actors are not thinkers. Baldwin’s portrayal of CIA analyst Jack Ryan in “The Hunt for Red October” makes it clear: he said and did what he was told to do, and did them very well. (Reminds me of comments re Roger Clemens: “He’s called “the Rocket Man,” not “the Rocket Scientist.”) This was the actor who was going to emigrate to Canada if George Bush the 2nd was elected? Wish he had. Bottom line on this: The US is full of bigots, bullies, and ignoramuses, but people in the public eye need, at the very least, to remember that they are not “above” the rest of us in these terms, and that their public political/social commentary gets more publicity (for good or ill). There are many actors who were smart, conservative, liberal, or whatever who did their jobs, occasionally used their fame (name-recognition) for political purposes, but a moron like Baldwin should just shut up and retire. He clearly cannot think about his behavior in advance, the effect it may have on himself and others — in short, an ignorant narcissist whose opinions are irrelevant. That MSNBC would even consider putting him on a talk show is laughable. Actually, I’m rather disappointed that Baldwin won’t have a talk show: it would have been hilarious to see him try that angle. He should just stick to commercials; he’ll make a lot more money and won’t have his foot in his mouth every day. (If he hadn’t been so hard to work with, he’d probably have remained the Jack Ryan of Tom Clancy fame; too bad for him, fine with me.)

    Re the #2 and#3 bullying issue: When I was in high school we girls were divided among the numerous (not school sanctioned) sororities: I was in the “best” of those — Kappa Beta Psi — and the only bullying I can remember is the snotty attitude we had and the hapless sophomores who bowed and scraped in an attempt to be invited in to this “inner circle.” We never denigrated those girls; we just ignored them. Was this bullying or typical adolescent, stupid girl behavior? (And incidentally, no one who didn’t get in committed suicide.)

    But the world has changed. I am consistently proud of my son who, thought he has his faults, is incredibly kind, and would never “go after” some nerd, person he didn’t like, etc. Verbally or on line. Now, the internet allows poorly raised, ugly young people to abuse others on line; it’s not a one- or two-time deal, in person, but out there forever in “the cloud.” It’s clearly not a legal matter, but a moral one. What kinds of kids are we raising? Bullies and victims, with few in between? Frankly, I blame the parents of both groups: those who raise kids who feel free to denigrate others at their will, and those who don’t raise their kids to have enough personal fortitude to ignore the bullies, understand that bullies are usually the most insecure among us and move on with their lives.

  3. “ServiceSource had asked Baldwin to share his views on business largely because of his fictional role as a top General Electric Co. executive on the TV series “30 Rock” and his role as a hard-charging salesman in the 1993 film ‘Glengarry Glen Ross.’”

    Incredible statement from a man who should be too smart for that. This is what passes for a sound business decision? We’ve truly reached the nadir when what it looks like is much more important than what it is. Can complete societal breakdown be far behind? Obviously not.

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