Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/30/17: A Vicious Professor, Pazuzu, And Kathy Griffin Revokes Her Apology

[ Just to remind you how good Debbie, Gene and Donald were. Note that these dancers skipped the staircase..]

GOOD Morning…

I’m changing the Warm-Up headlines to reflect the topics covered. I may even go back and revise the old headlines. It took a while, but I realized that having dozens of essentially identical post titles with only a date as the distinction made archive research harder than it had to be.

1.I would have headlined the story of now fired visiting University of Tampa professor Ken Storey “Vicious, bigoted and possessed by the Demon Pazuzu is no way to go through academia, son,” but so many professors have used social media to make outrageous and offensive statements that the ethics issue is getting repetitious. (I think Jonathan Turley has done a post on each one of them, and will continue to on his blog.)

The question is whether a college or university is breaching its commitment to free expression and academic freedom when it fires a professor who says that all men are rapists, or that whites should be exterminated, or, in Storey’s case,

When asked later if this theory also applied to Florida,  and Trump supporters there deserved a similar fate.the Florida college professor replied,

“Yep, those who voted for him here deserve it as well.”

The answer is no. The university or college that fires an employee like Storey is protecting its reputation as a responsible institution, by stating in clear terms that people with terrible judgment and cruel and unethical instincts who are motivated by hate and intolerance are not qualified to teach….because they aren’t. That professors increasingly have no ethics alarms beeping when the prepare to publish sentiments like Storey’s (or worse) shows how thoroughly the leftist echo chambers of most campus faculties turn academics into Pat Robertson, which is to say, rigid, mean, and dumb. Once upon a time, liberals giggled themselves silly over the evangelical huckster’s periodic pronouncement about how a disaster was God’s way of punishing the U.S. for not abusing gays sufficiently, or similar bile, Now they do the same thing, and expect their colleagues and students to applaud.

Ken compounded his ethical offense by the standards of Ethics Alarms by issuing a terrible apology that evoked the Pazuzu excuse. Realizing that he had gone too far, he tweeted,

“I deeply regret a statement I posted yesterday. I never meant to wish ill will upon any group. I hope all affected by Harvey recover quickly.”

Translation: “Oops. My hateful expression of glee over the tragedy afflicting Texans seems to have put my job in jeopardy. I regret that, so I have pulled down my tweet and am pretending to be sorry. I never meant to wish ill will upon any group, even though somehow my tweet wished ill on a group in the clearest terms, and I doubled down on it. Someone or something else must have been responsible. I hope all affected by Harvey recover quickly. (Saying that will let me keep my job, right?)”

This is a #10 apology on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale, the worst there is:

An insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply, and to deceive his or her victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.

Storey was fired.


2. Speaking of phony apologies, Kathy Griffin, she of the Bloody Head, went all the way to Australia to reveal that she really isn’t sorry about representing that the beheading of a U.S. President is hilarious:

Interviewer: You were very sorry at the time; you apologized. You were very upset. Are you no longer sorry for it?

Griffin: Correct. I’m no longer sorry. The whole outrage was B.S. The whole thing got so blown out of proportion. And I lost everybody; I had Chelsea Clinton tweeting against me. I had friends, Debra Messing, from Will and Grace, tweeting against me. I mean, I lost everybody. And so I have been through the mill, I also, I didn’t just lose like, one night on CNN; my entire tour was canceled within 24 hours because every single theater got all these death threats. I mean, these Trump fans; they’re hard-core. They have, like, robocalls, and they’re a minority, but they know how to act like they’re a majority.

Interviewer:…Debra Messing and Chelsea Clinton aren’t Trump fans; even Democrats said it was out of line. I get that comedy is about pushing the boundary, and being politically incorrect and that’s fine. But do you not agree that that picture, holding up a severed head, I know it’s a mask, covered in tomato sauce, but do you do not accept that was a little bit over the line?

Griffin: No, you’re full of crap. Stop this. You know this. Stop acting like my little picture is more important than talking about the actual atrocities that the President of the United States is committing, and I’m also on a mission to tell people honestly if it happened to me, as big-mouthed and obnoxious as I am, it can happen to you.

Griffin would sustain a whole case study in what happens when one lacks ethics alarms. or any basic training in ethical reasoning. She’s living, breathing, blathering argument for ethics instruction in the schools. (So is President Trump.) What she doesn’t understand would fill a book, but among them are these:

A. The fact that the reaction to unethical conduct is excessive does not mitigate the unethical conduct.

B. Loyalty does not require friends, colleagues and allies to pretend that what is wrongful is right.

C. In a nation that has suffered through four Presidential assassinations and at least five other serious attempts, appearing to call for another is not a joke, or likely to be treaed as acceptable conduct.

D. The reason Griffin has lost engagements and jobs is the attitude she just expressed. She has revealed herself as lacking judgment and the ability to know where societal lines lie. She is untrustworthy.

E. No, Kathy, it can only happen to us if we hold up the President’s bloody head, lie about being sorry, and the admit that the apology was a sham.

F. What “atrocities”?

G.  Rationalizations evoked or nicked  by Griffin in this brief interview segment:

2. Ethics Estoppel, or “They’re Just as Bad”
2 A. Sicilian Ethics, or “They had it coming”
8A. The Dead Horse-Beater’s Dodge, or “This can’t make things any worse”
13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”
14. Self-validating Virtue
22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”
24. Juror 3’s Stand (“It’s My Right!”)
24. A. Free Speech Confusion
28. The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times.”
31. The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now”
36. Victim Blindness, or “They/He/She/ You should have seen it coming.”
38. The Miscreant’s Mulligan or “Give him/her/them/me a break!
46. Zola’s Rejection, or “Don’t point fingers!”
48. Ethics Jiu Jitsu, or “Haters Gonna Hate!
54. The Joke Excuse, or “I was only kidding!”
55. The Scooby Doo Deflection, or “I should have gotten away with it!”
59. The Ironic Rationalization, or “It’s The Right Thing To Do”
61. The Paranoid’s Blindness, or “It’s not me, it’s you.”

I’m sure I missed some…


Pointer: Alexsei


40 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/30/17: A Vicious Professor, Pazuzu, And Kathy Griffin Revokes Her Apology

  1. What ‘atrocities?'” No kidding.

    Reminds me of prima donna/John Wayne impersonator Joe Scarborough saying Joe Arpaio “ran a concentration camp” as sheriff of Maricopa County. Uh, Joe, where were the gas chambers? Where was the forced labor? Where were the outrageous medical experiments? How many prisoners did Arpaio murder? Don’t you have any sense of perspective or history? You get paid to say stupid things like that?

        • And people weren’t sent to tent city because they were Cherokees or Boers or Jews or academics or gay or enemies of Pol Pot or Joe Stalin. They were sent there because they’d been duly convicted of, or plead guilty to, some (largely) minor offense. Like my son who did a night there for DUI.

          • But thanks for helping me learn the NAZIs didn’t come up with the awful term “concentration camp.” Maybe that was even a term applied by the Allies. A better term would have been “industrial scaled murder facilities.” “Camp” is just wrong. It connotes a place for kids to go for the summer in the Catskills or “music camp” or “math camp.” I even have a problem with “holocaust.” It sounds too much like a natural occurrence. Like hurricane or earthquake or flood. Should have been called “The time a bunch of Germans decided to murder millions and millions of human beings of all ages for no reason whatsoever.” Surely there’s a good German portmanteau word for that that doesn’t include “camp.”

            Just a hobby horse of mine.

          • Where was the forced labor?

            How are you not aware of Arpaio bringing back chain gangs? It’s one of the things he’s proudest of.

            How many prisoners did Arpaio murder?

            “Murder” is a tough one to prove, but dozens of prisoners have died as a result of poor and inhumane conditions in Arpaio’s jails.

            • Those chain gangs were pure theater. Who’s determined tent city was inhumane? We do have road clean up crews staffed by prisoners in Arizona. As I recall, all Arpaio did was have the prisoners on such work crews wear horizontally striped outfits from the prop room for Jimmy Cagney movies.

              How many people die in the Maricopa County jails every year? Is it abnormally high? No one’s ever died in the Santa Cruz county jail? You seriously think Arpaio should be prosecuted for murder? You really want to put him on the same plane as the NAZIs? Really?

              But more importantly, have you taken the LSATs and applied to law schools yet?

              • You’re asking me a lot of questions you should know the answers to before even trying to have this discussion, mixed in with questions that are total strawmen. “Is it abnormally high?” Yes, and that’s one of the principle objections to Arpaio. “You seriously think Arpaio should be prosecuted for murder?” Strawman. You also ignored that your question about forced labor was answered.

          • I find the two of them despicable. They’re nothing more than the cool couple in the little high school. She’s the head cheerleader and he’s the student body president. And they both abandoned their spouses and families to be cool together. Awfully juvenile.

      • I believe the Boer War was when the term concentration camp first came into use. In that war the camps were primarily women and children who were driven off their farms as the British employed a scorched earth policy to make life difficult for the guerrillas.

        From the report I was just reading about as many (or more) Boer women and children died in the concentration camps than died in the armies on both sides combined. These apparently were primarily from starvation and disease, the British putting an extremely low priority towards supplying the camps.

        I’d classify concentration camps as ones where large numbers of prisoners died through purposeful intent and/or malign neglect. Many of our Civil War POW camps would fall in this category, but I would not say that the Japanese-American internment camps would qualify. The Nazis had both ‘regular’ concentration camps (I have to squirm a bit as I write that), as well as death camps whose primary purpose was to kill the inmates.

        • Konzentrazionslagern and Vernchtungslagern respectively.

          Arpaio himself called the camps be created concentration camps. He was rather proud of them. This is all a matter of public record.

    • Yes, what kind of wooly-headed liberal would describe Arpaio’s jails as concentration camps? Only someone who deeply hated Arpaio could describe them this way.

      “Responding to some crackpot from the audience who wonders when Joe’ll start using concentration camps, Arpaio gives the following response.

      “I already have a concentration camp,” he snarks around 2:52 in, with nativist GOP politicians Don Goldwater and then Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas chortling along. “Andy, you gonna cover me on this, too? It’s called Tent City.”

    • OB,
      The atrocities committed were the following:
      1) Hillary was beat
      2) The media gets blasted regularly
      3) Trump is the worst

      I think that should do it.
      On a serious note, I wonder who Kathy will try to blame when she struggles to find herself a decent gig. I am confident she will not be introspective and say “Maybe I’m the one causing all the problems for myself?”

  2. “Griffin would sustain a whole case study in what happens when one lacks ethics alarms. or any basic training in ethical reasoning. She’s living, breathing, blathering argument for ethics instruction in the schools. (So is President Trump.) What she doesn’t understand would fill a book, but among them are these:”

    You could fill a book — a lot of books — with things Dad doesn’t know. And they have, which is why I read. – Rémy in Ratatouille

  3. The question is whether a college or university is breaching its commitment to free expression and academic freedom when it fires a professor who says that all men are rapists, or that whites should be exterminated…

    It is only a commitment to free expression if the faculty is allowed to remain on staff regardless of the political persuasion of the expression. Proof would be a university standing behind a professor who was caught in the pro-statue crowd at Charlottesville. I could ponder a long list of colloquialisms… but let’s just say extremely remote that such a professor would stay if the hypothetical came true.

    If the university isn’t being blind in applying the defense of a professor, they are by extension adopting it as an acceptable position. Ugly things uttered with a left leaning expression are still ugly and should be dealt with, including termination.

  4. Once upon a time a lot of us wished we could be the proverbial fly on the wall for private conversations between others or even read other people’s minds. Then social media arrived, which was pretty darn close to it. The comparison isn’t perfect, but social media has both encouraged and made it too easy for anyone to make anything that pops into his/her head a matter of public record and have it become widely known very quickly. In the past we kept our more ridiculous thoughts to ourselves, maybe talked among our closest friends about them, or possibly wrote them down in journals.

    The fact is we kept our more ridiculous thoughts among our like-minded friend because we knew damn well that making extreme or hateful statements was something we didn’t want the whole world to hear and there might be very real consequences. Your two or three like-minded friends might nod right along if you said all Republicans should be shot dead or all Muslims should be sent back to the sandbox, but if you casually said that among co-workers or clients you’d quite justifiably be in a pack of trouble. I have to also question the kind of journaling that doesn’t entail recording events, but constantly recording your thoughts. Very few are so intelligent that at any time a pearl of wisdom might drop and be lost if not immediately written down, and a lot of thoughts are best just let go of, especially those had in angry or immature moments.

    Now, anyone can say anything about anyone and have it travel the globe in a few seconds. You might think you are proudly correct or courageous for saying something that needs to be said, bluntly and without filter, but not everyone is going to agree with you. What’s more, if you keep a friend list composed entirely of like-minded individuals, who give you hearts and likes for every opinion you spout, it’s pretty easy to get into the “artist site” or “show site” mentality, where everything is about your thoughts and you brook no criticism of them, instead defriending or banishing those who criticize you. However, your boss, or a prospective employer, or a prospective romantic interest, or even a prospective friend who’s not as vehement as you are, isn’t going to see it that way, and the consequences could be severe.

    I know I’ve been guilty of some of the above behavior myself. I have concluded, though, that it is not in anyone’s best interest to elevate his own opinions too highly, or to get too comfortable with the use of extremely foul language, or to get too comfortable with threatening violence, or to get too comfortable with the exchange of information that could lead to destruction or damage. Social media is a very easy path to all of those things and the potential damage that can follow.

    Maybe it only goes so far as your boss calling you on the carpet for a Dan Savage-esque or Jim Wright-like rant, telling you this is never appropriate, and pointing out to you that your future may be compromised because he questions whether he can trust someone who is capable of becoming that unhinged. Maybe it goes farther, like eroding your ability to hold your temper in real life to the point you curse someone out or take a swing at someone, with attendant consequences. Maybe it really does lead to a circumstance like I just re-watched on DVD last night. I know Jack isn’t the biggest fan of Dick Wolf, but DW created a particularly chilling three-part crossover in his Chicago franchise that all boiled down to misuse of social media and the internet. It boils down to a geek who lived in the cyberworld becoming obsessed with a girl, stalking her online, and, when she brushed him off as the creep he was, finding out how to create what I’ll call an IID (improvised incendiary device) that took well, more life and limb than anyone should ever see. This professor is damn lucky he only said a deliberately hateful thing that cost him his job.

    • Or as I was told by my Crim Law professor as he was turning down another glass of wine toward the end of a party: “Moderation is the key.”

  5. On May 31st I wrote; “I rate Kathy Griffin’s apology as a #6. A forced or compelled version of 1-4, when the individual (or organization) apologizing knows that an apology is appropriate but would have avoided making one if he or she could have gotten away with it. I may be wrong in this but I think I detected an underlying tone of 13A The Road To Hell, “I didn’t mean any harm!”, a touch of 19. The Perfection Diversion: “Nobody’s Perfect!”, a piece of Rationalization 41 A. Popeye’s Excuse, or “I am what I am.”, 44. The Unethical Precedent, or “It’s Not The First Time”, and of course 54. The Joke Excuse, or “I was only kidding!”.”

    That #6 assessment was incorrect. Her original apology was clearly a #10. An insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply, and to deceive his or her victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.

    I also wrote in that same comment, “Kathy Griffin can apologize all she wants, her character has been revealed, I simply don’t believe her apologies.”

    That part of my previous comment was right on target.

    The “left” will of course say that she has paid the price (64A. Bluto’s Mistake or “I said I was sorry!”) and should be allowed to return to her normal life and anyone bringing up this incident, that has been forgiven by the left, is harassing her.

  6. “Yep, those who voted for him here deserve it as well.”

    In the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku quake, comment threads everywhere saw animal rights activists posting that the quake and tsunami deaths (over 15,000) were karma for the killing of dolphins that goes on in Taiji in Wakayama prefecture, over 500 miles away. Their logic escapes me. At that time it was mostly in news comment threads, but lately people on the left are openly stating on social media that tragedy is fair comeuppance for Trump voters, and the right in general. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen people on Twitter and Facebook say Trump supporters deserve to die, and smug comments of ‘That’s karma for you!’ in cases like this. It’s horrible, and they were right to fire Storey.

    • It just boggles the mind, when people write such mean spirited things about others in a crisis, just because of tribalism. I think these types of comments are just foot-in-mouth things, because if these people, I will assume they are Democrat supporters, take a look at the 2016 election results for Texas, they will notice that Houston (Harris & Fort Bend counties) voted for Hillary. So they don’t even take the time to look it up and they wish ill on people that are like themselves. They’re being ignorant and biased. It’s silly to think any one state in the US is 100% red or blue. Maybe besides getting Civics classes back in school, we also need etiquette classes, since that is not being taught at the home.

  7. Well, after a week of inspiring and unifying images of Texans helping Texans out due to hurricane-induced flooding, we’ll be treated to images of Texans beating each other up trying to fill their cars up after today’s media-induced run on gas stations.

    Thanks guys.

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