Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/16/17

1. It looks like Bill Cosby is going to be acquitted, and probably rightly so, though probably for the wrong reason: bias. The jury is deadlocked, and I’d bet my head that one or more hold-outs just can’t accept the fact that that nice Cliff Huxtable would do those horrible things unless the victim consented somehow. Cheat on his wife. maybe. But not that.

Celebrity defendants whose public images are benign begin criminal trials with automatic unreasonable doubt built-in; this is part of the reason O.J. and Robert Blake (“Baretta”) avoided murder convictions. Celebrities with less sterling reputations are not so fortunate: had Bill Cosby been the one who shot a woman he barely knew at his home under strange circumstances, he would have probably been acquitted. Unfortunately for Phil Spector, the pop record producer had a well-established reputation for being nuts. The reasons Cosby can be acquitted for just reasons is that the victim is on record calling and chatting with him dozens of times after she was drugged and sexually assaulted, and because only one of the 50 or so Cosby victims was allowed to testify to show a pattern of behavior. The standard of  proven  guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is intentionally difficult to meet. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Cosby is guilty, and his eventual acquittal won’t change my certainty. Nonetheless, those attacking the verdict and the jurors will be wrong, just as they were with O.J. and Casey Anthony.

2. One more thing regarding Cosby: yesterday I heard a CNN anchor who was about to interview another Cosby victim describe the woman as someone who has accused Bill Cosby of “inappropriate conduct.” The host caught herself, sort of, by adding, after a pause, “to say the least.” The woman claimed she had been raped. Even the anchor couldn’t bring herself to attach to dear, funny, sweet Cos such a heinous crime, so she engaged in craven equivocation. “Inappropriate conduct”?  Belching at the dinner table is inappropriate conduct. Drugging trusting young women and raping them is entirely different.

This is CNN.

 I regard a broadcast news journalist stating that Bill Cosby has been accused of “inappropriate conduct” misleading, incompetent, and fake news.

3.  I would make this an ethics quote of the day, but do not want to saturate the blog with this issue more than it is already, though not by any fault of mine. Camille Paglia, in an interview with the Weekly Standard, said, among other things,

“Had Hillary won, everyone would have expected disappointed Trump voters to show a modicum of respect for the electoral results as well as for the historic ceremony of the inauguration, during which former combatants momentarily unite to pay homage to the peaceful transition of power in our democracy. But that was not the reaction of a vast cadre of Democrats shocked by Trump’s win. In an abject failure of leadership that may be one of the most disgraceful episodes in the history of the modern Democratic party, Chuck Schumer, who had risen to become the Senate Democratic leader after the retirement of Harry Reid, asserted absolutely no moral authority as the party spun out of control in a nationwide orgy of rage and spite. Nor were there statesmanlike words of caution and restraint from two seasoned politicians whom I have admired for decades and believe should have run for president long ago—Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. How do Democrats imagine they can ever expand their electoral support if they go on and on in this self-destructive way, impugning half the nation as vile racists and homophobes?”

Of course she’s right, and Ethics Alarms has been discussing and condemning this terrible phenomenon since November. Do most Democrats not see this, do they just not care, or do they not have the integrity to speak out against their own party even though they know how wrong it is?

I see no fourth explanation. Is there one?

4. From Ethics Alarms head issue scout Fred, we learn that Ted Nugent has pledged to stop using harsh language, saying, “I’m going to take a deep breath, and I’m going to back it down, and if it gets fiery, if it gets hateful, I’m going away. I’m not going to engage in that kind of hateful rhetoric anymore.” Among the many colorful things he said when Barack Obama was President was calling him a a “subhuman mongrel” and  Hillary Clinton a “worthless bitch.” Now that a critical mass of Democrats who are as bat-crazy as he is and one of them started shooting Republican Congressmen, Ted’s had a change of heart.

Too late. His sudden enlightenment regarding responsible political speech would have been welcome and meaningful while Obama was in office. Now that his brand of polarizing and irresponsible speech has led where he should have known it would lead, he’s discovered respect. I—DON’T—CARE,  and all is not forgiven.

5. But since this jerk has resurfaced, I might as well air a Nugent-related ethics complaint. When some of the left-leaning readers here were desperately searching for a rationalization to support Kathy Griffin’s bloody Trump head stunt, Commenter Chrissy-Boy wrote, that Nugent had advocated terrorist-style violence when he said last year, We should ride in there and chop their heads off.”. Chrissy Boy is a friend and an honest man, so I took his quote as accurate; I did not remember it. Even as stated, I thought it was a poor analogy for what Griffin did, but other commenters picked up Chrissy Boy’s banner. Wrote another commenter I hold in high regard:

“Nugent was brought up as an example of the Right accepting similar behavior. That was a direct response to your false claim that the Right would never accept such behavior, and that the Left is much worse. You keep ignoring this point and choosing to respond to strawman arguments instead.”

Maybe Chrissy-Boy was misled by one of many misleading articles using Nugent’s comment to defend Griffin. Maybe the other commenter, like me, took him at his word without checking. But I learned later that the Nugent quote was not accurately or fairly relayed here. What Ted really said was “We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their [Democrats’] heads off in November.”

“Into that battlefield” and “in November”makes the Nugent’s metaphor explicit and unmistakable. This wasn’t even one of Nugent’s nuttier statements. He was talking about the upcoming election (and far from the first individual from either party to refer to elections as “battles”) and “chop their heads off” meant “defeat them.” Obviously.  Trump’s bloody head had no similarly benign meaning. It meant “Hate him” and “Wish him dead.”

I don’t appreciate being tricked into debating fake quotes, and I won’t tolerate false history and news being spread here. I have to trust commenters. Don’t lie to me again. I expect Ethics Alarms commenters who cite facts to do the checking.



Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture

25 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/16/17

  1. E2 (nee Elizabeth I)

    It will take more than a couple of Democrats to stop the insanity. The shootings yesterday of Republicans playing baseball is only the beginning, I’m afraid. The worst thing is the rationalizations for the hatred and hate-mongering. How can they pretend they are taking the high road? It is totally senseless, and it’s not going to stop any time soon. The Democrats and the media have no ethical leaders: so where does that leave the rest of us? If we disagree, we are enemies. (And set up to be shot by some ‘Resist’ maniac?) Frankly, I think 99% of the ‘Resist’ “friends” I have have lost their senses anyway, and not incidentally, they’re just having so much fun! And the country be damned.

  2. “Inappropriate conduct”

    Heh! Not so much what you say as how you say it, am I right?

    Like former AG Lynch and Clinton herself referring to a bona fide “investigation” as a “matter” and a “security inquiry,” respectively.

    My experience with reading Paglia (who can smith words with the best of ’em!) is that, if nothing else, she’s consistent.

  3. 2

    There is also a good possibility that the interviewer was being sensitive to a very embarrassing topic for the interviewee. Even with the victim willingly coming on to discuss being raped, I can see the interviewer trying to couch such a discussion in guarded language out of mere taboo of further discussing such a heinous, invasive and embarrassing act. I think it’s a natural human reaction. Even in private matters, if a friend of mine is discussing a particularly embarrassing struggle he’s dealing with, I catch myself asking about it or talking about it in couched language.

    Yes, she probably ought to discuss the difficult matter in plain speech as the interviewer, but I don’t necessarily think that her use of guarded language HAS to be because of some regard for Cosby…it could very easily be out of regard for the victim.


    “Do most Democrats not see this, do they just not care, or do they not have the integrity to speak out against their own party even though they know how wrong it is?

    I see no fourth explanation. Is there one?”

    Yes: They do see it, they do care, and they consider it perfectly legitimate tactics in the cold civil war they’ve started. Ends justfy the means, I would think. I know several comments I’ve read by particular leftists here demonstrate satisfaction with the tactics because they are supposedly the direct reason Trump’s poll numbers are low and he’s not being an effective president. So given that commenter’s approval of the tactics, I’d say that yes, they are aware of what they are doing. And quite happily so.

    But I suppose that could be filed under “they just do not care”.


    “Now that his brand of polarizing and irresponsible speech has led where he should have known it would lead, he’s discovered respect. I—DON’T—CARE, and all is not forgiven.”

    Would you say you hate Ted Nugent?

  4. I must have missed Chrissy-Boy bringing up Nugent’s “chop their heads” off quote, as I wasn’t aware of that one, and that’s not the example of violent rhetoric I was referring to in my part of the conversation.

    I was referring to him telling Obama to “suck on my machine gun,” as well as his statement that Obama and Clinton should be “tried for treason and hung [sic].”

    • Chrissy-Boy
      May 31, 2017 at 7:38 pm
      Trump’s response after Ted Nugent said in 2012 of Obama, Biden, HRC: “We should ride in there and chop their heads off”:

      Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
      4/19/12, 3:02 PM
      Ted Nugent was obviously using a figure of speech, unfortunate as it was. It just shows the anger people have towards @BarackObama.

      This “tells us all we need to know” about anyone who supports/apologizes for/normalizes Trump.

      Paul W. Schlecht
      May 31, 2017 at 8:55 pm
      Disclosure: I’m neither a Nugent nor a The Donald fan.

      “This ‘tells us all we need to know’ about anyone who supports/apologizes for/normalizes Trump.”

      Yo Chrissy-Boy, you want sad? I’ll give you sad.

      I’m curious; if we’re to question the integrity of WH visitors, ought we not remove our industrial-strength-thickened-weapons-grade-hardened ideological blinders in the interests of something resembling balance?

      If so, we’d find it was yer Hope-n-Change hero that supported/apologized for/normalized the EPIC POS and sexist, racist, anti-semitic, homophobic, criminal, hate-mongering PRICK Reverend Al Sharpton by making him the “go-to” guy on race relations?

      And wasn’t formerly employed Lefty miscreant Bobby Creamer (remember him?) a WH guest over 340 times, 47 of those with a personal audience with the self-anointed 4th Greatest President EVAH who was tasked with overseeing the Most Transparent Administration EVAH?

      Sometimes this stuff just writes itself, doesn’t it?

      May 31, 2017 at 10:15 pm
      Paul, Jack’s claim was that this type of behavior–implying that the president should be killed–would never be accepted on the right, but that it is accepted on the left. Chrissy-Boy (ooh, I hate that name) used the Nugent incident to show that in that case, it absolutely was accepted by the right, and showed that in the Griffin case, it was not accepted by the left. Your response doesn’t really engage with his point; it merely distracts from it.


    • My misunderstanding, then. The close proximity of the comments led me to believe otherwise, and since this was an alleged “head/head” analogy, I wasn’t thinking about any of Ted’s other uncivil comments.

  5. 4. Re: Ted Nugent.

    I agree. It is unfair to misquote Ted Nugent to justify or equate “right-wing” (whatever that means anymore) hate with “left-wing” (whatever that means anymore) hate (whatever that term means anymore). Ted Nugent has a long history of saying bombastic things, yet Ted Nugent also has a long history of promoting self-reliance and self-determination.

    I have to disagree that it is too late for him to realize the folly of his rhetorical ways. Should he have said the outrageous things he said about Pres. Obama or Hillary Clinton? Probably not. He acknowledged his error and vowed to repent. I would think that, as a matter of an apology, his statement ranks somewhere between 1 and 3:

    From The Ethics Alarms Apology Scale:

    “1. An apology motivated by the realization that one’s past conduct was unjust, unfair, and wrong, constituting an unequivocal admission of wrongdoing as well as regret, remorse and contrition, as part of a sincere effort to make amends and seek forgiveness.

    “2. An apology motivated by the realization that one’s legitimate and defensible action or words caused unanticipated, excessive, or unnecessary harm to a particular party or parties. The apology expresses a sincere regret that the harm occurred.

    “3. An apology motivated by a desire to accept accountability for an event or occurrence that one may not have caused, but was responsible for in some way.”

    Besides, there aren’t many people out there who can make a Gibson Birdland sing the way he does.;_ylt=A0LEVr1k80NZRbAAJ9gnnIlQ?p=gibson+birdland&fr=yhs-mozilla-002&fr2=piv-web&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-002#id=16&


  6. Do most Democrats not see this, do they just not care, or do they not have the integrity to speak out against their own party even though they know how wrong it is?

    I see no fourth explanation. Is there one?

    I have a couple of shots at this:

    First option: Tex stole my most likely option: the progressives don’t care and will not look at the future. Any that care will not speak out because moderates have been run out of the Democrat party the past three decades, and they well know how that will impact their lives.

    Second option: Progressives in the Democrat party have, in their minds (and perhaps in closed circles) have declared a Cold Civil War. Given that the Cold War of decades ago never went hot (except in obscure corners of the world) they think they can play this game.

    Third option: Progressives have gotten tired with the lack of momentum, and think change in our current system takes too long. Therefore, this is the run up to a system crash, which they think will allow them to reset without that pesky Constitution in the way. This option could involve a hot civil War or not, in their minds, but many hundreds of thousands would likely die when the system crashes.

  7. Glenn Logan

    Do most Democrats not see this, do they just not care, or do they not have the integrity to speak out against their own party even though they know how wrong it is?

    I see no fourth explanation. Is there one?

    I think the answer to this is, “it’s complicated.”

    First, I think Democrat politicians are fearful of rebuking their fringe, because they learned in the last election that their fringe is far more powerful than they imagined. Bernie Sanders was always a hopeless candidate. He only looked good because of the utter fecklessness and corruption Hillary Clinton represented. And yet the Democrats had to cheat to keep him from being very competitive, perhaps even winning. They reckoned, probably rightly, that an avowed socialist was unlikely to be elected even against a nutter like Trump.

    The lesson they learned from that is to tread very carefully when it comes to their more radical elements.

    Second, I think Democrat politicians would very much like to say some of the crazy things they have refused to reject. The reason is that they truly are mortified that Trump got elected, and in their minds, see it as a possible extinction level event for the country. Most people who are not leftists and have a grade-school understanding of the Constitution understand (or at least believe) that this isn’t really possible, but the many on the Left don’t trust the Constitution and would very much like to ignore the parts that stand in their way to power. They have the view that the majority really is with them, the election was stolen somehow, and that any means justifies the ends of removing Trump regardless of the cost to the country, because otherwise the country is doomed. They’d rather burn it all down than live with the result of the election, but obviously don’t want to be seen as lighting the match, so they are happy to let their radical element do it for them.

    Finally, the Left, which includes most of the current elected Democrats, genuinely believe that Trump is evil, and that anyone who is not rejecting him must be evil by extension, or so morally compromised that there is no functional difference. It’s easy for people to oppose what they see as evil by extreme means, or defend, deflect, and ignore those who do it for them.

    Chris’s recent discussion of “hate” provides a very nice exemplar of what is going on here — too many on the left embrace this part of his commentary:

    This shooter obviously wasn’t able to process his hatred in a healthy way. But perhaps many of us on the Left aren’t processing it in a healthy way either, even if we would never think of acting on or supporting violence.

    To me, this hits the nail on the head. The Left, and that includes what Camile Paglia refers to as “politicians she has admired for decades,” simply can’t process their hatred, and fear, in a healthy way (yes, the right also has it’s share of this problem, but at least for now it isn’t on display). Thank God few have resorted to shooting at Republican politicians (so far, at least) but what Jack Vance referred to in his outstanding Planet of Adventure series as “awaile” (a form of murderous insanity followed by suicide) lurks just beyond this toxic combination.

    Finally, I want to just say that I think Camile Paglia is a national treasure, regardless of her politics.

  8. Neil Dorr

    And yet still no source for the Maxine Waters quote about “the young girls.” I have no trouble believing she would say that or something like it, but I can’t find any evidence of it. This is troubling since Maxine Waters disgust is entrenched in certain places and I find it hard to believe such a quote wouldn’t have been used a ammunition against her.

    • Pre-blogs and extensive internet coverage, C-Span, stupid, embarrassing Democrat who also is a woman and black, so the news media has an interest in ignoring her worst moments—it’s not surprising.

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