“Who you vote for is your secret. But whether or not you vote is public record. We will be reviewing voting records . . . to determine whether you joined your neighbors who voted in 2014….If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not.”
—-The New York Democratic Party in a final plea to registered Democrats.
True character and principle tend to reveal themselves in times of crisis.
I don’t particularly want to poke the Lawscam hornet’s nest again, because I don’t especially enjoy having giant photos of my head placed on-line accompanied by obscenities, and I know a lot of bitter out of work lawyers with shaky interpersonal skills, huge debts, a computer and time on their hands have nothing better to do but to blame me and anyone else they can find for their plight (and yes, if I see a couple of them posting a photo like this on Facebook with the caption, “Hello, Ethics Alarms!” I am calling the police.). Nonetheless, I can’t let this pass without noting that the headline is dishonest, and Zaretsky’s commentary on Owens’ problems is exaggerated to the point of hysteria. Continue reading →
Unfortunately, the group that fits the description in the title appears to be “almost everyone.”
I. The Michael Brown Side.
Brown was young. He had his life ahead of him. It is tragic that he died.
Whatever he did, it would not warrant a death sentence in the justice system.
He was shot dead, and he did not have a gun or a weapon on him.
He was black, shot by a white officer, in a town where African-Americans, for a variety of reasons, do not feel respected, believe they are often harassed, and feel subject to racial discrimination.
Brown was shot at multiple times. The average individual can see no reason why that would be necessary.
Eyewitnesses report that at the time of the fatal shooting, Brown posed no threat to the officer that would justify the use of deadly force.
Important, powerful, respected African-American officials and leaders trusted by the majority of black Americans have stated that that racism is rampant in U.S. society generally, and the justice system specifically.
Brown’s body was left lying in the street for hours, in what seemed to be a gesture of disrespect.
The items above do not include the many cynical, dishonesty, manipulative interpretations of the event and false or deceitful assertions that have been used by activists, journalists, advocates and politicians to distort public perception. Bill Maher, for example, flatly says that Brown was murdered. That is not a fact, and no one who didn’t witness the shooting is justified in stating that it is a fact. Continue reading →
TAUNTON, MA — Two teens who took a picture with their Airsoft rifles while at their own home are facing expulsion from school…Tito Velez and Jaime Pereira are members of an Airsoft club. The guns they use look real, but they only fire plastic projectiles. Last week, Tito and Jaime posed with their guns at home for their homecoming picture and posted it on Facebook. A school official then saw the photo and suspended the teens for ten days claiming the photo may have scared other students.
1. The photo was beyond irresponsible and stupid, and looks more so in the wake of the recent school shooting. It’s creepy, Bonny and Clyde-ish, and the caption, “Homecoming 2014,” could be reasonably seen as a threat.
2. The fact that the guns were Airsoft replicas is irrelevant. My son left one of his Airsoft rifles in a car outside our house, and a virtual police S.W.A.T. team showed up. These toys are close enough to the real thing to be threatening.
3. Generally, punishing students for what they say on Facebook exceeds a school’s authority, but not in a case like this.
4. The punishment is wildly excessive. No threat was intended, no weapons were brought on school grounds. The kids broke no laws. They just used terrible judgment.
5. They needed to get a lecture, an assignment, and maybe a suspension of a single day. Hitting them with ten days and possible expulsion is just typical anti-gun bias and hysteria.
“In Georgia, state Democrats printed a flyer warning that the way to prevent “another Ferguson” is to vote. Arkansas residents meanwhile, received a mailer showing a man in a hands-up, don’t shoot position made infamous in the wake of Michael Brown’s killing. The mailer reads: “If we want to end senseless killings like Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, we need to vote . . . It’s important to say that it shouldn’t have to be the threat of undermining civil rights that gets people to vote, but if it does, so much stronger the party is for it.”
—MSNBC talking head Alex Wagner, acknowledging the desperate, last-ditch effort by the Democratic Party to energize its African-American base by racial fear-mongering, and endorsing it in epic “the ends justify the means” fashion.
Wagner: ‘Race-baiting makes us strong.’ Wow.
I remember my father announcing during the Nixon re-election campaign that the cynical GOP “Southern strategy” is which it catered to old-line Southern Democratic voters with direct appeals to racist myths and fears that he was changing his registered party affiliation from Republican to Independent, because he refused to belong to a party that would engage in such divisive and despicable tactics just to win elections. It is hard to imagine any conservative-leaning broadcaster, commenting on these scare-tactics at the time, both acknowledging them and pronouncing them regrettable but, all in all, good for the party. Yet this is exactly what Wagner did.
It exposes many things: the ethical deficit at MSNBC, progressive approval of the strategy of exacerbating racial discord and division in America, and the open, seven year-long strategy of Democrats resorting to race-baiting as the solution of last resort whenever the party’s performance and policies are subjected to fair criticism. The statement also exposes partisans like Wagner as ethics corruptors of all who hear them and are gullible enough to believe they speak the truth. Winning by lies and undermining racial comity in America makes nothing and nobody stronger. Even if such a tactic is successful in the short-term, it is devastating to democracy and the culture. No party that stoops to such gutter tactics is worthy of support by anyone who believes in basic ethical values.
The New York Times was finally revolted sufficiently by the conduct of its party of choice that it wrote about the recent spate of race-baiting campaign messages being used in close contests around the nation by the deservedly desperate Democrats: Continue reading →
For breedism read racism, for the illogic, bias and cruelty is the same. PetSmart, the nation’s predominant retailer of animal companion products, and one that has built its image, brand and success on being dog-friendly (customers can bring their furry pals on leashes into the stores), engages in the ignorant and deadly practice of anti-pit bull prejudice. Their customers should make it very clear to the company that its unethical and irresponsible stance will not be tolerated.
I’m not going to tolerate it, not because it will make a difference to PetSmart, but because I couldn’t look my dog in the eye again if I didn’t. Continue reading →
Pieces of my head are on the ceiling, thanks to the violent cranial explosion caused by this story, a KABOOM! from across the pond. Usually my head isn’t so sensitive to non-American unethical conduct, but this, as you shall soon see, is special.
Andrew Holland, 51, a Welsh bus driver, was accused of owning an extreme porn video featuring a woman having sex with a tiger. He had been arrested and charged over the video, which he claimed friends gave him as a joke. Holland lost his job, was targeted with hate mail from vigilantes, and he suffered a heart attack that he says was caused by the stress of the case.
Then, after inflicting all of this on Holland, prosecutors looked at the video closely, and, for the first time, with the sound turned on. Oops. That was no tiger—that was a man in a tiger suit. The big clue was when they they heard the randy tiger, in the throes of sexual ecstasy, growl out,
Yes, just like Tony the Tiger, the Frosted Flakes icon, except that in Great Britain they are called “Frosties.” Continue reading →
I keep getting emails asking when I’m going to discuss Gamergate on Ethics Alarms. Several readers have sent me extensive links to bring me up to date. I’ve read them, or at least tried. Not since I was assigned the tome Peace and War by Raymond Aron has any text bored me more.
Gamergate appears to have all the markers of an ethics train wreck, but to me, at least, the train might as well be in Mongolia. I can’t contribute anything of value on this topic, because gaming is not part of my life, skill-set or interests in any way. This is a culture I don’t understand, and frankly, don’t have the time or interest to understand. I make a yeoman effort to keep up with popular culture, because I think once it gets too far ahead of you, your ability to understand the world around you is severely limited. But triage is essential. Just a few years ago, I knew who all the celebrity contestants on “Dancing With The Stars” were; this year, I never heard of half of them. More than half the stories on TMZ lately are about “celebrities” that are completely off my radar screen. I am confident, however, that in about six months, most of these stealth celebrities will be where Snookie and “The Situation” are now, which is obscurity, has-been Hell, or maybe jail.
There are ethics lessons to glean from this endless gamer scandal, but Ethics Alarms will just have to glean them elsewhere. For those who feel neglected, I highly recommend the recent post by Ken at Popehat, along with his links. It hits most of the salient ethics issues, and Ken, I gather, follows this stuff, as do his Popehat colleagues. My hat’s off to him, and them. But #Gamergate is one ethics controversy that I am not qualified to explore, and don’t want to be.
Late last night, the previous post regarding the video showing a woman being repeatedly shouted at by rude and intrusive males as she silently walked down New York City streets sparked an ancient memory from my past.
The incident before my career shift into ethics, indeed before I was married. I was in Georgetown on a lovely fall day (like this one), and it had been a lousty week. I was feeling lost and depressed. Suddenly I was aware of the young woman walking slightly ahead of me toward the corner of Wisconsin and M streets, Georgetown Central. She wasn’t merely beautiful, but heart-stoppingly beautiful, the kind of rare combination of perfect genetics aesthetic taste who makes one realize how dishonest Hollywood’s representation of humanity is. Maybe this young woman would have blended into the scenery in Tinseltown, but I doubt it very much. Greek myths described how mortals, if they saw a god or goddess in their true form, would be instantly burned to ash, and that was almost the effect this woman had on me.
Yet she did not have the aura of a star or a model who was aware that she was gorgeous and conscious of her effect on those around her—I have seen that many times. Beautiful people generally know they are beautiful and are used to being treated differently because of it; they sometimes have a “leave me alone” force field around them, and this woman didn’t have that either. For some reason, perhaps because the jolt she had given me renewed my flagging enthusiasm for life in general at that moment—I literally never do this, not before and not since—when we reached the corner together, I turned to her and said, as I recall it,
“Excuse me, I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but your are incredibly lovely, and seeing you today has made me happy, when I was anything but happy before. I just wanted to say thank you.”
If people who engage in specific unethical conduct know it is unethical and don’t care, does it serve any useful purpose to tell people who know it is unethical and would never do it or tolerate it that the unethical individuals are engaging in it?
Hollaback, an organization that wants to stamp out street harassment and intimidation (a.k.a. catcalls), produced a video in which it videotaped a young woman walking around Manhattan for 10 hours this past August. A hidden video camera was placed in the backpack of a man walking in front of her, catching every catcall, whistle, and even one persistent character who walked alongside the woman for five minutes.
The results are startling. According to Hollaback, there were over 100 instances of verbal harassment in that 10-hour walk, not including winks and whistles. In the video, the woman remains silent. She is dressed in a T-shirt and jeans.
Check the link to Hollaback, and you will see that the organization claims that “you have the power to end street harassment.” No, really you don’t. There can’t be a law against shouting out to someone ( to its credit, legislation isn’t one of the group’s recommendations), and the tradition of men harassing attractive women on the street is old and persistent. This isn’t an everybody does it excuse, this is an “assholes will be assholes, and there will always be assholes” statement of fact. I would expect that street harassment is getting worse, thanks to counter-productive muddled feminist efforts like the recent video with little girls repeatedly saying “Fuck.” Women killed chivalry by treating it as an insult—indeed, it was subordinating and condescending, but at least well-intentioned—and are surprised now that its polar opposite thrives? See, the chivalrous men, those with manners, were called pigs and made to feel guilty about being nice. The men who intentionally and openly harass women? They can’t be made to feel guilty. They do this because they like it.
Remember “the Hunger Project”? It was essentially a 1970’s scam that purported to seek an end to world hunger by saying that it could be ended without really doing anything that could possibly accomplish that goal. Gullible members gave money to the organization, and felt they were doing something to end hunger by giving, when all they were really doing was supporting a group that said world hunger could be ended. Is Hollaback any different? I know there is a long list of “actions” it recommends, but none of these are likely to penetrate the culture that causes the problem. Basic ethics—the Golden Rule, mutual respect for others, manners, civility—already tells us that shouting at women on the street is disgusting and wrong, and civilized human beings don’t do it, ever. Nor do groups of civilized human beings engage in this conduct.
Men who harass women on the street are exactly like men who have indiscriminate and irresponsible sex, or men who drink so much they can’t hold a job, or men who cheat on their wives, or men who molest children. Nobody needs to tell them that civilized, ethical people think this is wrong. They know it’s wrong. They do it because they like it.
There is no chance, none, zero, that increasing awareness among the comparatively few people who don’t know this is a vile social behavior (I was surprised that the harassment in ten hours wasn’t worse) will do anything to end or even reduce it. So what’s the point?
This, in Vox’s last sentence…
“The video is a reminder that men asserting their dominance over women and intimidating them is simply all too common.”
That’s the message. The awareness campaign is designed to make sure everyone regards women as victims of men generally, and to group men who would never engage in this kind of boorish and threatening conduct with those who do. Then all men can be vilified and placed on the defensive. Dare you question whether a woman should have her contraception paid for, regardless of means? Why, you are just like those harassers on the street, asserting your dominance over women!
I will decline Hollaback’s invitation for the self-indicting trap it is.