Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/25/17

Good Morning, everyone!

[I thought I had posted this two hours ago! I’m sorry!]

1. Re President Trump’s latest anti-news media rant: American journalism’s abandonment of partisan neutrality, competence and professionalism has become the single greatest threat to the nation’s functioning democracy, along with the erosion of public trust that this has caused. I have previously endorsed President Trump’s earlier statement that the news media has become an enemy of the people it is supposed to serve. However, saying, as he did this week, that journalists don’t “love America” is incompetent and irresponsible.

But what else is new. Journalists just over-overwhelmingly hate him, and cannot muster the professionalism to do their duties fairly as a result. (Norah O’ Donnell actually interrupted Trump’s anti-journalism rant to call him a liar—nice.  A network news operation with professional standards would suspend her for that. ) To be fair to the President, his use of language and comprehension of it is devoid of nuance. I presume that to him, saying that the news media hates America, hates him, and is the enemy of the people all mean the same thing.

2. Let’s keep track of which journalists and politicians relate Hurricane Harvey to climate change, or cite the dangerous storm as more evidence that the “consensus” is correct. This is the first major hurricane in 12 years, in defiance of virtually all predictions and climate change models, which told us that the warming earth would lead to more frequent violent storms, not fewer. Of course, the sudden and unexpected dearth of hurricanes during the entire Obama administration (no, Super Storm Sandy was not a hurricane) also doesn’t prove that climate change is a crock. But every single individual, activist, meteorologist, reporter, talking head, Democrat and Al Gore Fan Club member that points to Harney and says, “See???” is proving that he or she isn’t interested in the truth, just in furthering an agenda.

3. We shouldn’t allow California to secede, but it will be tempting, if it ever comes to that.

The California State Senate has a bill before it making it criminally punishable   to  “willfully and repeatedly” refuse “to use a transgender resident’s preferred name or pronouns” in a public health, retirement or housing institution.  State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has introduced  SB 219  which, among other somewhat less ridiculous provisions, directs that violators face a year in jail and a potential $1000 fine for, say, calling a transgender individual “mutton-head.”

The law states in part:

 (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), it shall be unlawful for a long-term care facility or facility staff to take any of the following actions wholly or partially on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status:
. . .
(3) Where rooms are assigned by gender, assigning, reassigning, or refusing to assign a room to a transgender resident other than in accordance with the transgender resident’s gender identity, unless at the transgender resident’s request.
(4) Prohibit a resident from using, or harass a resident who seeks to use or does use, a restroom available to other persons of the same gender identity, regardless of whether the resident is making a gender transition or appears to be gender-nonconforming. Harassment includes, but is not limited to, requiring a resident to show identity documents in order to gain entrance to a restroom available to other persons of the same gender identity.
(5) Willfully and repeatedly fail to use a resident’s preferred name or pronouns after being clearly informed of the preferred name or pronouns.
(6) Deny a resident the right to wear or be dressed in clothing, accessories, or cosmetics that are permitted for any other resident.

Jonathan Turley notes that while the measure specifies public health, retirement or housing institutions, such laws punishing disrespectful speech could use such a measure as springboard to general censorship. That’s assuming the Supreme Court won’t laugh a law like this right out of its temple. The professor, excessively careful as always, writes,  “The criminalization of pronoun misuse however could raise serious free speech and other constitutional concerns.”Gee, professor, ya think???

4. I guess it’s “Pick on California Friday”: Senator Kamala Harris yesterday authored the second stupidest thing uttered by a female Democratic member of Congress—#1 is so wonderful that I’m giving it a full post as soon as I stop giggling [UPDATE: it’s here]—but it does raise hopes that she gives her party an opportunity to nominate a Presidential candidate in 2020 with the ideological bent of Bernie Sanders, the skin tone of Barack Obama, and the capacity for idiotic tweets of our current President. The perfect candidate!

Here’s what she tweeted:

“Joe Arpaio was convicted because he committed a crime. He should not be pardoned.”

Interesting! Only citizens who have been convicted of crimes or are facing prosecution need to be pardoned. Shouldn’t candidates for Congress have to pass a basic civics literacy test? Is Harris really that ignorant, or does she oppose the pardon power generally? Wait: isn’t that what her kinder, gentler, rule-of law-opposing state advocates regarding illegal aliens? Letting them get away with breaking the law, as in pardoning them?

5.  In baseball, these are called the “dog days of August,” when all the players are beat up and tired. I guess these are the dog days of Ethics Alarms. Research and writing the blog hasn’t been much fun lately. After a fast start this year, the blog’s traffic crashed in July and hasn’t recovered. That’s discouraging. I get sick of writing about the same issues, but the news media’s dangerous abandonment of objectivity,  the President’s incurable habit of handing it ammunition to misbehave, and the progressive movement’s increasingly open hostility to the rule of law and freedom of expression are constant, indeed escalating. It is  irresponsible to start ignoring any of these out of frustration or boredom; on the other hand, what good does it do to keep beating the same drum—especially when I see anti-Trump mania rendering previously intelligent friends and associates irrational and willing to reject core American principles?

It’s also no fun being accused of being a white supremacist and a Trump supporter because I insist on applying the same ethics principles regardless of my opinion of the the violators or their victims. There is a concerted effort by the Left to embed a cultural standard in which those with approved, officially benign opinions have more freedom to express them than those whose beliefs have been deemed unacceptable. That is the beginning of a crack that will crumble the democracy, and I will fight against it until they cart me off to the re-education camp. But who am I kidding? Ethics Alarms is a pea shooter in the ethics wars. And nobody is to blame for my pitiful lack of influence at this crucial moment in our nation’s life but me. Too much time starting theater companies, watching baseball games, and working for Washington associations before arriving at the profession that nobody ever pays attention to. Ethics.

I need a vacation.


51 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/25/17

  1. Jack,

    I’m getting caught up after a weekend off at retreat, and upon reading your #5 here, I feel very sympathetic. I was feeling burned out, run down, and the retreat was exactly what I needed to become revitalized. I recommend a weekend getaway. No internet, no posts, no news, just at time to break away from the world and get back in touch with the fundamentals of why we do what we do. It helps to have a dynamic speaker and a bunch of kindred souls around you at that same time. I hope you can arrange something like that.

    Your work is great, Jack. It is influencing both my wife and me, and even people around us who don’t know about your blog.

  2. I’ve already gone two rounds with the Pronoun Police (won the rounds/lost the bout). And Wiener is the new Pelosi. If he gets the dough, watch him rise.

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