Monthly Archives: December 2013

Thanks, Everyone, For A Successful, Lively, Enlightening 2013!

Ethics Alarms ends 2013 with close to 300,000 more page views than 2012, and this was it best month ever, with a full 25% more activity than the previous high. Thanks to everyone who read, lurked, linked, objected, weighed in and contributed. The Best and Worst in Ethics for the year will be posted here soon, so be on the look-out.

And good night, tgt, wherever you are…

Happy New Year, Everyone!

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Update: Apology Scores For The MSNBC Vicious Three

deanpia

Several readers have asked for the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale scores for the three MSNBC creeps who decided to use a loving, non-political family photo featuring Mitt Romney’s newly adopted grandchild as an opportunity to sneer at the family, Mitt and the GOP, and engage in some unprovoked race-baiting. It was such an ugly display that decent human beings a) would never have engaged in it at all and b) wouldn’t have required a wave of criticism to wash over them to realize apologies were in order, but they did. Why? Because they are hateful people, unsavory and loathsome. As such, I really had decided that mucking around in MSNBC swill wasn’t worth a second post, but since you asked, here are the scores. The best apologies are in category #1…no danger of that with this sorry trio.

Apology 1: Dean Obeidallah Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Race, U.S. Society

The Problem Isn’t That MSNBC’s Talking Heads Are “Offensive”…It’s That They Are Unprofessional, Hateful And Loathsome

 

mitt-romney-grandkids

From Mediaite:

“On Sunday’s Melissa Harris-Perry (MSMBC) show, the eponymous host led a panel of entertainers in a rundown of the “photos of the year,” which somehow included a Romney family picture that “a lot of people had emotions about,” according to MHP….“Everybody loves a baby picture,” Harris-Perry said, “and this was one that really, a lot of people had emotions about this baby picture this year. This is the Romney family. And, of course, there on Governor Romney’s knee is his adopted grandson, who is an African-American, adopted African-American child, Kieran Romney.” As Harris-Perry made the introduction, panelist Pia Glenn sang “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just isn’t the same,” a tune whose original lyrics read “one of these things doesn’t belong.” “And that little baby, front and center, would be the one,” she added. …Comedian Dean Obeidallah chimed in by reducing the baby to a token. “I think this picture is great,” he said. “It really sums up the diversity of the Republican party, the RNC. At the convention, they find the one black person.”

Then the host, without missing a beat and without sensing any irony, said that the next segment would be devoted to answering the question, “Hey..is that racist?” Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Etiquette and manners, Family, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Race

The Republicans Devolve

devolutionWhether your party is becoming more ignorant, or whether ignorant people are increasingly drawn to your party, the conclusions to be drawn when over 50% of those who identify as members also proudly admit that they have a 19th Century understanding of the universe cannot be called encouraging. Thus the Pew Research Center’s just released data showing that only 43% of Republicans understand and accept evolution is bad news for that party, and indeed for the nation as a whole.

Democrats have nothing to be proud of, as just two thirds (67%) of them told Pew that they believe in evolution, but at least the members of that party are getting smarter: the last poll, in 2009, showed 64% had absorbed the conclusions of Charles Darwin and Stephen Jay Gould. Republicans, in contrast, have gone backwards, dropping from 54% to the current, pathetic figure. For the American public as a whole, the takeaway is that a full 33% are incompetent at life, for that is what complete confusion about and misunderstanding of the world around us means in practical terms. Continue reading

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When “Heartless” Is Responsible

The Neverending Emergency....

The Neverending Emergency….

Nancy Pelosi just designated the extension of unemployment benefits yet again—they were first extended in 2008 and have been continuously extended ever since—as Congress’s top priority for 2014, which is instructive. She called the Republican determination to end the extensions as “immoral;” others in her party and the media have called it heartless. “Starting tomorrow, too many American families will face the New Year with uncertainty, insecurity, and instability as a result of congressional Republicans’ refusal to extend critical unemployment insurance,” she said. “The first item on Congress’ agenda in the New Year must be an extension of unemployment insurance. That must be our priority on day one.” The budget deal cut between House Democrats and Republicans ends the extensions, unless something is done.

Pelosi’s argument is intellectually dishonest. I would like someone to define the exact point at which the number of families dependent on as yet unsuccessful job-seekers would no longer be regarded as “too many.” Isn’t any number too many? If the nation decides that it should provide a living stipend to the unemployed as long as they are jobless as policy, then so be it: I think that would be a mistake, as the Welfare experiment demonstrated and as the federal disability assistance programs continue to demonstrate, but that’s a debate that needs to be had. As seems to be habitual with the Democrats, they apparently want to make this the policy deceptively and without admitting so, by the device of never-ending “emergency extensions,” with spokespeople like Pelosi ready to hammer any opposition as a “heartless.” Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Finance, Government & Politics, U.S. Society

Ethics Quiz: “The Penniless Girl” And The Yechhh! Competition

"Hey...I'm cute, without shame, ambitious, mean...I could be a reality TV star!"

“Hey…I’m cute, without shame, ambitious, mean…I could be a reality TV star!”

Actress Erin Wotherspoon, 24, lives in Toronto and has an unusual avocation. As she describes it on “A Penniless Girl, Bad Dates and Plenty of Oysters”,

“I’ve got a pretty face & a pretty extensive urban spoon wish list…We all know that getting what you want in life can be tough. Which is why I’ve decided to let someone else finance my dreams. My dream? To eat in pretty restaurants without costing me a penny. You had me at Elk Tartare, lost me at chin strap. Follow me to learn who I screw over, bang and love as I navigate Toronto’s diners, drive-ins & dives.”

Yes, as breezily chronicled on the Tumblr blog, Erin entices unenticing, lonely and hopeful men to feed her at Toronto’s best eateries, then dumps them unceremoniously once the bill has been paid. As her mission statement above demonstrates, she doesn’t see anything wrong with this, despite the fact that it is dishonest, cruel, manipulative and a straight-up violation of both Kantian ethics (don’t use people) and the Golden Rule, as well as a pure as crap example of an ends justifies the means life philosophy. Are some of Erin’s escorts using her as well, essentially buying faux affectionate companionship for the cost of some elk tartare? Oh, surely. Such individuals use their affluence to sully the dignity and integrity of others for a price. The fact that one is being unethical in his dealings with another who is also unethical—mutual users, mutual corrupters—is no justification.

Now, as someone—maybe even Erin—could have predicted, a U.S. reality show producer wants to make a star out of her, and it appears that we may soon be able to watch Ellen dupe wannabe sugar daddies into delicious and free meals weekly.Then she can give an interview to GQ and explain why gays are sinners.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz as 2013 winds down to an ethically depressing finale:

Who is more unethical: “the Penniless Girl” or the TV executives who want to make her rich and famous?

For me, it’s an easy call: the reality show purveyors are much worse than Erin. Selfish, deceptive, exploitive conduct is wrong and more harmful to society the more of it we get. Reality shows and the other ways the United States and its media reward terrible conduct—CNN giving Eliot Spitzer his own show, MSNBC doing the same with Al Sharpton, Fox employing sleazy (but famously sleazy!) Dick Morris, and the radio shows for the likes of Ollie North and G. Gordon Liddy come to mind, and now I’m nauseous again—make being unethical (or drunk, or stupid, or pathetic) a ticket to stardom, and even a desirable career path. It isn’t only reality shows, of course. It’s Republicans cheering Phil Robertson as if what he said wasn’t offensive; it’s Joe Wilson getting boat-loads of contributions off of shouting “You Lie!” at the President of the United States; it’s Tom Delay and Kim Kardashian getting gigs on “Dancing With The Stars” for being indicted and making a sex tape, respectively; it’s Kanye West, Miley Cyrus and other pop “sensations” receiving dawn to dusk publicity and inflated recording sales by behaving badly. We stifle liberty and expression by organizing boycotts against those whose conduct is objectively or subjectively offensive, but to reward them for it is courting cultural suicide, and turning the usual process of establishing healthy societal standards upside-down and inside out.

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Pointer: Fark

Facts: Toronto Sun, Tumblr

Graphic: Toronto Sun

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Gender and Sex, Marketing and Advertising, Quizzes, Romance and Relationships, The Internet, U.S. Society

Cartoon Ethics: The Washington Post’s Stupid Elephant Trick

Trainwreck Cartoon

The above cartoon, by reliably liberal op-ed cartoonist Mike Luckovich, who draws cartoons for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was run in the Washington Post this Saturday. It immediately reminded me of why, in a previous post, I suggested that the simple-minded, factually misleading art of editorial cartoonists needed to be retired. I wrote:

“Cartoons, by their very nature, deal in caricature, exaggeration and extremes for metaphorical and humorous effect. The practical effect of this, however, is that the opinions expressed through cartoons are also “supported” in a manner that would be outrageous in a written opinion piece. I know: you can’t hold a cartoon to the same standard as an op-ed. Fine—then don’t put it on the editorial pages.”

This, if anything, was worse than the Tom Toles cartoon that provoked that commentary. This Democratic talking point—more like ducking point–got graphic representation the day following another wave of bad news about the dysfunctional Affordable Care Act and how thoroughly it has been botched by the Administration. Right before Christmas, the Post’s front page carried an infuriating story about how, after waiting two years before considering how to set up the Obamacare website, the Administration chose a company that even cursory due diligence would have revealed as untrustworthy and incompetent:

“Not considered in the 2011 selection process was the history of numerous executives at CGI Federal, who had come from another company that had mishandled at least 20 other government ­information technology projects more than a decade ago. But federal officials were not required to examine that long-term track record, which included a highly publicized failure to automate retirement benefits for millions of federal workers.”

Republicans caused that trainwreck? The same day the cartoon ran, this was in the news:

The Iowa Department of Human Services says problems with the federal healthcare website has led to a delay in processing policyholder information and is asking 16,000 Iowans to reapply for Obamacare using the state website or call center.”

And did Republicans force the President to lie repeatedly about how the law wouldn’t take away anyone’s current plan or doctor? Indeed, they warned that what happened would happen, and were attacked and ridiculed while the media bolstered the President’s disinformation campaign. That, as much as the website, has made the public perceive Obamacare as a trainwreck. The mean old GOP elephant is to blame for that? As I noted in the earlier post, an editorial cartoon shouldn’t be permitted to spread falsehood and misunderstanding, and a respectable newspaper shouldn’t actively engage in the blame-shifting and denial process, which is the full-time occupation of Affordable Care Act defenders these days.

Then I searched for the cartoon on line, to determine who drew it (his signature was illegible in the size published), and for the first time, was able to read the date. The cartoon was drawn on July 29, 2013! This was after the “trainwreck” label was being wielded by Republicans because Democratic Senator Max Baucus used that term to describe his—as it turned out, accurate—assessment of how the Administration’s public information campaign was going, not the law itself. Yes, the Republicans were working to impede the progress of the ACA then, because they were convinced the law would lead to disaster. Still, Luckovich’s cartoon, while partisan, was hardly unfair or misleading—in July.

Now, however, it assumed a different meaning. The date wasn’t noted by the Post: I thought it was a new cartoon, which means I thought Luckovich was engaging in MSMNC-style historical air-brushing. The cartoonist wasn’t, however.

Was the Post? Was it deliberately using Luckovich’s dated cartoon to bolster its desperate Obama-defending readership with the baseless accusation that the GOP was really behind the law’s current travails? Or was it just being careless, reckless, inattentive and unprofessional–you know, like most of the news media. most of the time?

I don’t know. I do know that the Post owes its readers and Luckovich an apology, the former for treating them like idiots, and the latter for making him look like one.

___________________________________________

Sources: Opposing Views, Washington Post

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Health and Medicine, Ethics Train Wrecks