This is the first installment of the Worst. It says something, and not something happy, that this segment of the year-end awards are more than twice as voluminous, and far more competitive, than the “Best” of 2013 ethics. Well, nobody said it would be easy….
Ethics Train Wreck of the Year
Obamacare, a.k.a Affordable Care Act. This is quite an achievement, as there were at least two other three Ethics Train Wrecks rolling along in 2013 that would have been easy victors in a less horrible year. One of them, The Trayvon Martin- George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck, was last year’s winner, and still wreaked ethics carnage across the culture, thanks to Zimmerman’s trial (which never should hev been brought), the biased media coverage, the incompetent prosecution, the inept judge, and then afterward, the ignorant and/or racially motivated attacks on the jury for doing its job well and fairly against overwhelming odds. Yet as bad as this hangover from 2012 was, the Sandy Hook Ethics Train Wreck was arguably even worse. The news media decided to go Soviet and abandon all pretense of objectivity, essentially becoming an Obama Administration propaganda tool for gun control. Elected officials lied their heads off; so did the aroused NRA. Gun owners talked and behaved like they were about to be Gulaged. Legislators shamelessly used the grief of victims to stampede public opinion; children became props; fake statistics were everywhere; brain-damaged Gabby Gifford was programmed to read child-like messages as if they were the conclusions of research papers. The President’s total lack of political leadership skill again came front and center, then, when he had failed to do what he promised to do, the opposition was vilified by celebrities like Jim Carrey, who called them murderers and worse.
But the Affordable Care Act lapped both of these. It revealed itself to be a five-year long train wreck that just took a break after an earlier stretch where the bill was passed without due diligence by its supporters and using a cynical by-passing of due process. A Presidential lie intentionally devised to deceive the public was repeated for the five-year span, and then exposed when the law began to take affect….but not before the law inspired Republicans to force a reckless and irresponsible shut-down, a mini-train wreck within the train wreck. The website debacle was initially spun by the news media (not working worth a damn isn’t a “glich”), then the evidence of near criminal ineptitude became impossible not to report. The indisputable evidence that the President of the United States had sold a program under false pretenses came to light, prompting dozens of politicians, bloggers, pundits and reporters to destroy their credibility forever (I hope) by desperately trying to either rationalize the lie ( “the ends justify the means”), call it something other than what it was (The New York Times’ disgraceful “incorrect promise” was one low point), or simply deny that it was a lie at all (Democratic Chair Debby Wasserman Schultz, setting a new low for personal dishonesty, itself an achievement in her case). Then, when the public pressure and political fall-out became unbearable. the President just began amending the provisions of his own law on the fly, except that it was the nation’s law, and it’s unconstitutional to do that—this, after the mantra from Democrats and the news media during the shut-down debate was that the ACA was “settled law.” HHS Secretary Sibelius misled Congress, the White House denied that her stated goals were goals once it was obvious they wouldn’t be met; and nobody was held responsible for yet another Obama Administration debacle. And there’s a lot more, with the train wreck still moving at top speed.
Fraud of the Year
Iowa State University biomedical sciences assistant professor Dong-Pyou Han, who resigned after admitting he tainted blood samples to get desired outcomes in research animals, allowing him to claim a break-through in the effort to develop an AIDS vaccine. The National Institutes of Health had awarded Han’s research team $19 million in multi-year grants.
Incompetent Elected Officials of the Year
- Elected Body (National): House Republicans, who staged a wholly useless, expensive and damaging government shut-down on “principle,” without ever articulating what that principle was sufficiently for anyone responsible to agree with them. Runner-Up: The California House Legislature, which passed a law allowing illegal aliens to practice law.
- Elected Body (Local): Elected Body (National): The DeBary (Florida) City Council. Yes, the autistic boy and the chickens fiasco.
- National Elected Official: President Obama. From being incapable of working with Congress, to refusing to fire incompetents, to not knowing what was going on in his own administration, to drawing red lines he wasn’t willing to defend (and then advocating killing people just to show he was willing to defend them), to undermining the trust and faith in both his office and himself by uttering unequivocal lies, President Obama had one of the worst years of self-inflicted miscalculations, errors, failures and reversals of any U.S. President in history. I’m sorry to have to say it, but it’s true.
- Local Elected Official: Storey County (Nevada) Assemblyman Jim Wheeler (R). Wheeler told a group that if his constituents demanded it, he would vote (with a heavy heart) to reinstate slavery, as he felt doing so would be his duty as a representative. Runner-up: Maryland House of Delegates Member Don Dwyer (R), who after a drunk driving and drunk boat piloting episode, the latter injuring several people, blamed his conduct in part of feeling betrayed over his colleagues approval of gay marriage in Maryland.
- Special Distinction, International Division: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford
Sexual Harasser Of The Year
Vice-President Joe Biden
Unethical Website of the Year
Chimpmania. You can’t get much worse than this site that promotes, celebrates and smugly defends racism, one of a nest of such websites my discovery of this ugly Neanderthal sub-culture led me to uncover. There is an up-side: anyone who really thinks this a post-racial America should be sent to the site pronto, then to a shower. Or be made to watch MSNBC….
Most Unethical Conduct by a School District
Arlington (Texas) School District, which allowed an unidentified teacher at Boles Junior High School to retain her job (after a suspension) despite “punishing” a student by pouring pencil shavings down his throat.
Most Unethical School No-Tolerance Action
Park Elementary School in Brooklyn Park (Maryland) suspended 7-year-old Joshua Welch for biting his breakfast pastry—a Pop Tart— into the shape of a gun. The school suspended Josh for two days for“using food to make an inappropriate gesture.”
Most Unethical School Teacher (Excluding Sexual Predators)
Dewey Christian, English teacher at Denton High School (Dallas-Fort Worth) With the choice of Christian, I am choosing indoctrination as the greater ethical offense for a teacher of young minds than more obvious misconduct. This teacher told students to write a few sentences about whatever topic they chose—”a fun experience,” one student said. However, when two seniors turned in papers that referenced guns, Christian scolded and humiliated them in front of the class, and told them that they would receive zeros unless they chose a different topic. Runner-up: The Linden High School (in Linden, Calif.) gym teacher caught on video stealing money from her students’ backpacks. Bonus: the principal tried to confiscate the student’s video and cover the incident up.
Naked Teacher of the Year
Cristy Nicole Deweese, ex-Spanish teacher for Townview Magnet High School (Texas). One of the least controversial of the fired Naked Teachers, she posed for Playboy not long ago, and didn’t warn her supervisors about her previous exposure.
Ethics Corrupter of the Year
(Awarded to the unethical public figure whose prominence, popularity and success most corrupts the public’s ethical values)
President Obama, taking his second major category, and there was no contest. When you have pledged transparency, and have been anything but transparent; when your loyal supporters, taking your lead, decried Bush’s incursions on privacy and the Fourth Amendment in the name of national security and you then exceeded them; when you forced citizens and journalists to choose between accepting the fact that they gave great power to a leader who was both unworthy of it and incapable of using it competently, or supporting conduct, methods, tactics and policies that they would have condemned from anyone else: and when you take those who were hopeful, idealistic and trusting and turn them cynical and angry, you are the epitome of an ethics corruptor, and some other bad things as well. Nobody can corrupt a culture and a citizenry like a leader, the President of the United States most of all.
Uncivil Elected Official of the Year
Loutish Democratic Congressman (D-Fla) Alan Grayson. He was put back in office by his misguided Florida district, and it got what it deserved: the most uncivil legislator on Capital Hill. The Congressman who famously announced that Republicans opposed Obamacare because they wanted people to die now tells America that the Republican Party’s opposition to open borders is racist, and compares the Tea Party to the Klan.
The Jesse Jackson Award
(For the Year’s Worst Amateur Diplomat)
Dennis Rodman, ex-NBA wacko, who decided to revive his flagging career as a celebrity (as in “Celebrity Rehab”) by serving as a tool of North Korea propaganda, making good will tours to the realm of dictator Kim Jong Un, and doing his best imitation of a tall, tattoed bull in a china shop. Runner-Up: John Kerry.
Most Unethical Sports League
Sports Cheat of the Year
Annual Sports Ethics Controversy That Gets Worse Every Year
Steroid cheats and their fitness for admission to Baseball’s Hall of Fame
Unethical Lawyer of the Year
Jeremy Daniel Oliver, who texted an offer to let his female client pay for his legal services by either having sex with him, or persuading her 18-year-old daughter or her 13-year-old daughter to have sex with him. The texts arrived while investigators were at the client’s home, so they could read them live.
Unethical Judge of the Year
Ex-Texas Judge Elizabeth E. Coker, who among her many ethical outrages, texted instructions from the bench to a Polk County Assistant District Attorney who was assisting in the prosecution of a case in Coker’s court, suggesting a line of questioning that she felt the prosecution should try.
Unethical Law Enforcement Official of the Year
Most Unethical Use Of Social Media By Law Enforcement
Polk County (Floria) Sheriff Grady Judd, who decided to abuse his power and wrongfully arrest two teenage girls because they were obnoxious and unfeeling in their Facebook posts about teen suicide Rebecca Sedwick, even though there was no law they could be legitimately charged under.
Unethical Broadcast Journalist Of The Year
Martin Bashir, of course.
The Stephanopoulos Award
(for the Broadcast Journalist Conflict Of The Year)
CNN’s Chris Cuomo, who saw nothing wrong with interviewing his brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. on the air. It doesn’t get more conflicted than that.
Journalism Ethics Failure of 2013
The news media’s desperate and transparent efforts to minimize, spin, cover for, and generally keep the full awfulness of Obamacare’s rollout and the truth about the law’s incompetent management from the public. First, the fact that the website didn’t work was labeled a “glitch;” then the news media attempted to rescue the President from the obvious facts that his long-standing and unequivocal assurances that the Affordable Care Act would not result in any American not being able to keep their health plan was a calculated lie, leading to embarrassing editorials, columns and news show segments.
Unethical Late Night Talk Show Host
Jimmy Kimmel, as usual, who continued and expanded his practice of abusing and exploitng children, either himself or by inducing parents to do so in exchange for 15 minutes of fame.
Unethical Magazine Cover of the Year
Confirmation Bias Attack of the Year
Matthew Lynch’s jaw-dropping, sad, wish-it-was-satire-but-it-wasn’t essay at the Huffington Post, called “12 Reasons Why Obama Is One of the Best Presidents Ever”. It also raised the questions of incompetent editing and how wildly biased a website has to be not to laugh such incompetent drivel out the door.
2013’s Ethics Outrage That Most Makes Me Regret That Ethics Alarms Has No Real Influence
The persecution of Justin Carter, a teen who was arrested and charged for making a harmless comment to a friend on Facebook that authorities called a terrorist threat.
More to come, unfortunately, here: