Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/10/17


1. In the category of “Good!”, or maybe “Better late than never!” was the news that CNN, after a a full week of pondering, determined that maybe it wasn’t sufficiently professional for a host to call the President of the United States a “piece of shit,” or anyone a “piece of shit,” really, or use “shit”  under the CNN banner, so it fired “Believer” host Reza Aslan. I don’t know why CNN can’t figure out that an immediate firing sends the message that the organization has professional standards and enforces them, and the way CNN handled this says, “We were hoping this would blow over, but guess not.”

Aslan’s tweet after his hook raised other questions:

  • Wait, CNN is trying to be an unbiased new outlet???
  • Oh, is “piece of shit” how scholars express themselves now?
  • “I need to honor my voice” by being able to use vulgarity to express his measured views. Got it.
  • The “tenor” of discourse is entirely within the control of the speaker.
  • Why does CNN put people on the air who don’t understand or respect their professional obligations to the network or the audience?

2. Fox News’s Sean Hannity got web headlines yesterday by tweeting to Aslan: “I do not think you should be fired. You apologized.” Sean Hannity is really too dumb to be allowed out without a leash. His theory is that an apology magically returns everything to where it was before the conduct in question, as if there were no effects. This was serious breach of professionalism and responsibility showing the Aslan was too untrustworthy to be allowed to have his own TV show. It proved that he was a threat to CNN’s reputation (Crude News Network” is the current successor to “Clinton News Network,” and no organization can function if its announced policy is “Go ahead, do anything; as long as you apologize, your job is safe.”

3.  I will return to this, but if you want a shining example of how incredibly, fatally biased the mainstream news media is, look no further than the non-coverage of James Comey’s real “bombshell” in his testimony, that Loretta Lynch told the ex-FBI chief to call the Clinton e-mail investigation a “matter” rather than an “investigation.” When he asked Lynch why, he said, she dodged the question, saying: “Just call it a matter.” Comey told the Senate committee that the order, “gave the impression that the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our work with the way the political campaign was describing the same activity, which was inaccurate.” Nonetheless, Comey said he complied with Lynch’s directive to lie to the public because it “wasn’t a hill worth dying on.”

Refusing to allow the FBI and the Justice Department to assist the Clinton campaign wasn’t the place for a supposedly straight-arrow law enforcement professional to make a stand? Incredible and damning. As I wrote in various places yesterday, this was smoking gun proof that the Obama administration was interfering with the election by assisting the Clinton campaign as it misled the public, and that is worse, in my opinion, than Russia foiling the Clinton campaign’s efforts to mislead the public in other matters. How could the news media possibly brush off this admission?

Later I saw that one of the few recent Attorneys General whose reputation for integrity is intact agreed with me, not that this should be a tough call.

Bush I AG Michael Mukasey said in an interview,

“What makes it egregious is the fact — and I think it’s obvious that it is a fact — that the attorney general of the United States was adjusting the way the department talked about its business so as to coincide with the way the Clinton campaign talked about that business, In other words, it made the Department of Justice essentially an arm of the Clinton campaign. That is a betrayal of the department and of its independence to illustrate that clearly that the attorney general was essentially in the tank for Secretary Clinton.”

4. Episodes in which prominent Democrats use gutter language (“They go low, we go high!”) are becoming too frequent to warrant posts.  The Left has surprised me by even taking away the one area in which I had assumed Donald Trump would have unchallenged primacy: coarsening the culture and making the U.S. a nation of assholes. There was another notable example yesterday,  as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand gave a  speech at the Personal Democracy Forum at New York University on Friday in which she said “fuck” multiple times.

One choice example: “If we are not helping people, we should go the fuck home.”

Gillibrand is considered a possible Democratic Presidential nominee, and would presumably be the candidate of choice for the Crude News Network.

I’m going to keep reminding as many people as I can of the accumulated societal wisdom that civility is a cornerstone of ethical cultures, even if a President and one entire political party are defying it.

5. Finally, a story via commenter Zoe and issue scout Fred that almost needs no commentary, so self-evidently stupid it is.  In a confused and addled climate where girls have to compete with boys who have decided they are girls, and girls who are taking hormones to be boys, an 8-year old player was disqualified from playing girl’s soccer  because her short hair made her look like a boy, and that, plus a typo on the roster, was enough to keep her off the field.

The episode is less one involving gender issues than  pervasive, old fashioned, inflexibility and abuse of power by authorities neither smart enough or ethical enough to do they jobs competently. We learn that the girl’s parents showed her insurance card to tournament organizers, but that official proof of gender was deemed less authoritative than a haircut and the word “boy” typed on the roster. “We had a doctor’s physical form and it gave a description and it said her age and female, so we showed them that but they wouldn’t look at it,” said Mili Cruz’s brother. The organization should not blame the typo, it should blame its incompetent representatives.

Fortunately, there is this coda to the story.

9 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/10/17

  1. Fair to assume that Aslan won’t be copping the newly minted (per the talented Reality Winner) “white and cute” defense?

    And Jack, does that defense have what it takes to get into the “Ethics Alarms Rationalization List?”

  2. The soccer thing might involve a very good team and player who were shot down by the well connected coach of the other finalist, according to some things I have read. The refusal of the officials to review evidence smacks of ‘the fix was in.’

      • Hanlon’s Razor, though, applies.

        Yeah, sadly we must.

        It will be a travesty if someone doesn’t lose their job over this, though. This is an utter failure of basic competence. Someone, or several someones, need to spend some time in the unemployment line over this.

        Mia Hamm’s response was wonderfully ethical and perhaps hero-worthy in today’s environment. Maybe that’s too low bar, but for some reason, this story really chaps my backside. But I’ll nominate her anyway.

  3. I am a social commentator and scholar.

    Okay, so “piece of shit” now qualifies as scholarly discourse? Combined with #4 in your list, I think we have reached the point that mothers all over America for at least the first 75 years of the previous century have been trying to teach us to avoid — lowering the threshold of discourse to the gutter.

    Sadly for them, it seems some, most notably on the Left, are intent to take it from the gutter straight to the sewer. Alas.

    Refusing to allow the FBI and the Justice Department to assist the Clinton campaign wasn’t the place for a supposedly straight-arrow law enforcement professional to make a stand? Incredible and damning.

    Damning, yes. Incredible, no. Remember the plane, Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton? That was incredible, or rather, the media non-reaction to it was, especially in light of this revelation.

    It’s becoming very clear that Comey is a “deep state” tool of Galactic Overlord level, at least in his own mind. I used to have a modicum of respect for him, but Johnathan Turley’s level and fair examination of his completely unethical actions vis a vis president Trump are enough to remove that quantum forever.

    Turley is anything but a right wing apologist, so if you lose him this completely, you have clearly lost your way.

    What is truly amazing is how Trump manages to bring out the worst in everybody, both right and left, but particularly and spectacularly the left and “deep state.” It is awesome in its scope and effectiveness, although I think we can all lament this “skill,” if that’s what it is.

  4. Jack said: ” Sean Hannity is really too dumb to be allowed out without a leash. ”

    Disrespectful of dogs, cats, ferrets, turtles and frogs.

  5. Reza Aslan never should have gotten a job of this sort in the first place. He is known almost entirely for his “Zealot” book, which was derided by historians for being filled with so many errors, outright false statements, and assertions based upon nothing that it would have failed as a student essay. He is also fond of exaggerating his credentials in public forums, and a childish Twitter account that looks reads it was hacked by a very drunk Fred Durst.

    He’s the Dr. Oz of religious history, making America, and the world, dumber.

  6. I rarely find myself rushing to Sean Hannity’s defense, but his comment to Azlan, “I do not think you should be fired. You apologized.” was a lame attempt at humor. It failed miserably because Hannity is too dumb to know how use irony and sarcasm,so he says things like that. He needs a crash course in George Carlin witticisms.


    PS: I agree with dragin_dragon. One should be careful so as not to besmirch the reputations of dogs, cats, ferrets, sea turtles and frogs. I would add gophers, hedgehogs, camels, and billy goats to that list.

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