Monthly Archives: May 2016

From The “I’ll Take My Tiny Victories Where I Can Get Them” Dept., A DirecTV Update

DirecTV is now running a new version of the “Turn Back Time” ad featuring Bon Jovi. It looks just like the earlier one, except that now turning back time re-unites the female side of the satellite TV-watching couple with her old boyfriend, as her current partner looks on in horror. This is a major improvement over the first version, as it doesn’t make a wall-drawing kid vanish into the ether as his parents smile at ridding themselves of an unwanted child.

Maybe this is just an effort to vary the theme. I’d like to think, however, that enough ethics alarms went off among viewers and maybe even DirecTV executives that they realized that the original ad was more ugly than funny, and pulled it for a more ethical version that doesn’t tell us that this corporation thinks vaporizing children is hilarious.

Don’t disillusion me. I can’t always feel like I’m screaming in the wilderness here.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture

Ethical Quote Of The Day: Columnist Richard Cohen

Richard Cohen

“Trump could win. He could become president, commander in chief, ruler of the Justice Department and head of the IRS. In other words, the American people could elect someone who has not the slightest appreciation for the Constitution or American tradition. When Trump insisted that he could compel a military officer to obey an illegal order, I heard the echo of jackboots on cobblestone…. It does no good to argue that Trump is just doing a shtick, that he means little of what he says, that he is all swagger and bluff. Trouble is, his supporters do not see him that way. They take him at his word.

History nags. It admonishes. “American exceptionalism” is a phrase that refers to the past, not necessarily the future. Nothing is guaranteed. I’d like to think that Americans really are exceptional, that we have an exceptional faith in democracy and the rule of law. I now have some doubt. I always knew who Trump was. It’s the American people who have come as a surprise.”

—— Eccentric liberal  political columnist Richard Cohen in his essay, “Trump has taught me to fear my fellow Americans”

Richard Cohen is an odd duck in the world of liberal punditry. He is often emotional rather than rational; he wears his biases on his sleeve, and his ethical quirks are legion: for example, he is an infamous apologist for sexual harassment, and therefore Bill Clinton. He is not unperceptive, however, and I feel obligated to recognize him for one of the few times I have been in total agreement with his analysis.

I may have to start a new category called “Ethical Quotes About Donald Trump.” I promise if I ever encounter an ethical that is positive about The Donald’s divisive and dangerous candidacy, you’ll be among the first to learn about it. My assumption is that never the twain shall meet.

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society

The Ethics Lessons In The Tragic Death Of Harambe The Gorilla

The primary lesson is this: Sometimes bad things happen and nobody deserves to be punished.

The tragedy of Harambe the Gorilla is exactly this kind of incident.

In case you weren’t following zoo news over the long weekend, what happened was this. On Saturday, a mother visiting the Cincinnati zoo with several children in tow took her eyes off of a toddler long enough for him to breach the three foot barricade at the Gorilla World exhibit and fall into its moat. Harambe, a 17-year old Lowland gorilla male, took hold of the child, and zookeepers shot the animal dead.

Then  animal rights zealots held a vigil outside the zoo to mourn the gorilla.  Petitions were placed on line blaming the child’s mother for the gorilla’s death. Other critics said that the zoo-keepers should have tranquilized the beast, a member of an endangered species. The zoo called a news conference to defend its actions.

Lessons:

1. Animal rights activists are shameless, and will exploit any opportunity to advance their agenda, which in its craziest form demands that animals be accorded the same civil rights as humans. Their argument rests equally on sentiment and science, and takes an absolute position in a very complex ethics conflict. This incident is a freak, and cannot fairly be used to reach any conclusions about zoos and keeping wild animals captive.

2. Yes, the mother made a mistake, by definition. This is res ipsa loquitur: “the thing speaks for itself.” If a child under adult supervision gets into a gorilla enclosure, then the adult has not been competent, careful and diligent in his or her oversight.  The truth is, however, that every parent alive has several, probably many, such moments of distraction that could result in disaster, absent moral luck. This wasn’t gross negligence; it was routine, human negligence, for nobody is perfect all the time. You want gross negligence involving animals? How about this, one of the first ethics essays I ever wrote, about the late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin holding his infant son in one arm while feeding and taunting a 12-foot crocodile? You want gross negligence amounting to child endangerment? Look no further than the 6-month-old waterskiier’s parents. Taking one’s eyes off of a child  for a minute or two, however, if not unavoidable, is certainly minor negligence that is endemic to parenthood. Zoos, moreover, are not supposed to be dangerous. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Bioethics, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Hero: World War II Vet Burke Waldron

It is a day late, but I finally have my Memorial Day post.

Thank-you, Burke Waldron, for your service, for making me feel young, and for having the integrity not to embarrass yourself, your contemporaries, and everyone else by making pathetic attempt at throwing a baseball.

I’m not sure which elements of Ethics Hero 92-year-old WW II veteran Burke Waldron displayed yesterday, as he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Seattle Mariners game on Memorial Day. Call him a holistic hero. He’s a hero, like all of the fallen soldiers—including my dad—of past wars, because he risked the horrors of combat to defend our nation and the values it stands for…well, at least until Donald Trump is President.

He’s a hero because he represented his generation yesterday with style, verve and energy, running to the pitcher’s mound—in his uniform!as thousands cheered. Most of all, to me, he’s a hero because he took his assignment seriously, and didn’t emulate the pathetic rockers, politicians and even retired athletes who defile their first pitch honors by throwing the ball like a 7-year-old T-ball player, because they couldn’t be bothered to practice. Petty Officer, 2nd Class Waldron threw a strike to his catcher…

…just like another war hero, Ted Williams, did in his last appearance on a baseball field, at the 1999 All-Star Game in Boston. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Heroes, History, Sports

Ethics Hero : Don Huber

George Williams, finally free and on his way. If only I used barbers...

George Williams, finally free and on his way. If only I used barbers…unfortunately, that requires hair…

Here in Virginia, we are debating Governor Terry McAuliffe’s decision to let felons be jurors and to vote for Hillary Clinton (for whom they are are presumed to have natural affinity, as well as for Governor McAuliffe himself, perhaps), but nobody would begrudge them the chance to be barbers.

That’s what George Williams is about to be: a barber. He just graduated from Tribeca Barber School in Lower Manhattan, and  will soon face state examiners to qualify for his New York barber’s license. He almost didn’t make it.

As he was about to be released four years ago from the infamous  Attica Correctional Facility where he was serving  his two- to four-year sentence for robbing a pair of Manhattan jewelry stores, a gang of prison guards brutally attacked and beat him. Williams had both legs and his collarbone broken, and a fractured eye socket  Doctors placed screws into one leg to hold the bones together.

Disgustingly, prosecutors allowed the guards involved to exchange a guilty plea to a lesser charge for a punishment that included no prison time. Here was their primary penalty: they can’t be prison guards any more. Funny, I would think that would be automatic, plea or no plea, when you beat prisoners half to death.

The story of George Williams’ beating and the ridiculously, suspiciously lenient sentences received by his state-paid muggers was one of the nightmarish Tales From The Dark Side of the Justice System in a front page of a The New York Times story about The Marshall Project. Williams was quoted as saying that he still  headaches and nightmares from the attack but was trying to save the $2,600 barber school tuition to start a new life as a law-abiding tonsorialist.

27-year-old United States Army specialist, Don Huber read the article while stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas. He had been raised in Attica, New York, and had just finished serving nine months  in Afghanistan with the First Infantry Division.

Huber was moved William’s plight and bothered by the bad reputation the incident  gave his community. Huber had gone to high school with one of the guards who beat Williams, but had never met George. Still, Huber organized an online fundraising campaign to raise at least $2,600 to help the ex-prisoner get on with his life. The campaign quickly received $5,800 through more than 70 donations. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity

James Weeks’ Libertarian Strip Tease: New Vistas In Betrayal And Irresponsibility

libertarian strip

I know many libertarians are angry with James Weeks. Not nearly angry enough, though.

Here is the struggling Libertarian Party, with the same Presidential candidate who drew all of 1% of the vote in 2012, finally attracting some attention from serious Americans desperately seeking a viable alternative to the two vile and untrustworthy candidates belched out by the major parties. For the first time, its nominating convention is news rather than trivia or a side-show. C-Span is broadcasting it live. Libertarian James Weeks, a candidate for party chairman, appears at the podium to argue for his candidacy, and knows that the Libertarian Party is being scrutinized and assessed. So what does he do to enhance its reputation, elevate its visibility, and increase the still infinitesimal odds that it will add another shocking and unforseen upheaval to the political landscape in a year that has already experienced so many of them?

He strips. He takes off his clothes until only his briefs remain, to a chorus of boos. “It was a dare,” Weeks explained at the end of his striptease. “I’m gonna go ahead and drop out.”  Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire

The Right Wing Media Tries A “Gotcha!” On Brian Williams, And Looks Ignorant, Biased And Unfair

Atom bomb cloud

Bias makes us stupid, as I write here often.

One after another,  conservative media reporters  pounced on MSNBC’s Brian Williams, the exiled ex-NBC anchorman, for saying this on the air, in a discussion about the anti-nukes movement, re-energized by President Obama’s remarks at Hiroshima:

“It is and that is still the threat that people worry about that this material will fall into the wrong hands. If people have found the U.S. to be preachy in the years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki about the use of weapons, it’s because we’re the only nation to have used them in anger. Sometimes, I am amazed that the world has been without these weapons all the years since, but it is a point of, a great pride by the people who have seen to it.”

My God! Brian Williams, that lying liberal, actually smeared the United States and President Truman by suggesting that we dropped the atom bombs out of spite! Revenge! Hate! And he did it on Memorial Day weekend; its’ an insult to everyone who fought and died in that war!

Curis Houck, Newsbusters: “Williams  took a swipe at the entire reason that Truman had the bombs dropped (which was to end the war)”…

David Rutz, Washington Freebeacon: “MSNBC’s Brian Williams said the U.S. used nuclear weapons against Japan “in anger” Friday, an expression sure to upset those who recognize the decision potentially saved hundreds of thousands of lives by bringing about a swift end to World War II.”

Matt Vespa, Town Hall: “[T]he notion that anger was seemingly the primary motivating factor in dropping atomic bombs is nonsense. We did it to end the war….”

Sarah Hoyt, Instapundit: “WHAT THE? HOW ABOUT WE USED THEM IN STRATEGY?  Do these people have to have their brains ablated before getting newsmedia jobs?…And if we had used them in anger, would they have stopped the war less?  Stopped the massacre of our troops less? Stopped the likely suicide (in case of American invasion) of Japanese citizens less?  Dear Brian Williams, get a clue.”

There is nothing quite like living up to the worst stereotypes of conservatives pushed by the liberal media. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media