Monthly Archives: November 2017

I LOVE IT When This Happens!

Two recent Ethics Alarms posts collided on Ann Althouse’s blog today. She wrote that she was listening to the audiobook “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion,”by none other than Jonathan Haidt, who uttered the Ethics Quote Of The Month recently discussed here.

In his audiobook, Haidt said that this statement “captured the spirit and self-image of the modern American left”:

“I am a liberal, and liberalism is the politics of kindness. Liberals stand for tolerance, magnanimity, community spirit, the defense of the weak against the powerful, love of learning, freedom of belief, art and poetry, city life, the very things that make America worth dying for.”

Who authored this ringing declaration of liberal principles?

Garrison Keillor, that’s who. Continue reading

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The Great Pie Controversy, or “Why Reporter April Ryan Isn’t Invited To The White House Christmas Party And Rightfully So”

Did you miss The Great Pie Controversy? Then sit down, children, and hear the tale…

It all began when White House spokesperson Sarah Hucklebee Sanders posted a photo on Thanksgiving showing a pecan pie she baked for Thanksgiving. Above  is the  2:40 p.m. tweet.  The next day, American Urban Radio Networks Washington bureau chief April Ryan tweeted her doubts that the pie was real, implying that Sanders was a liar.  She needed to “show it to us on a table,” Ryan demanded, and had to see “folks eating it and a pic of you cooking it.”

Now, let us pause and ponder what would make someone react like that to a simple declaration that someone had baked a pie for Thanksgiving.  Why would anyone set out to embarrass and impugn an individual’s honesty over something so innocuous, based on no evidence or good reason at all? This isn’t journalism. It ‘s just meanness, motivated by sheer bias and hate. Conduct like that is so contrary to the Golden Rule that it constitutes tarnish.

And, of course, Ryan’s demands were also stupid and unreasonable. How would Sanders, where she so inclined, produce photos of guests eating a pie after it had been eaten?

Never mind. This example of disgusting and gratuitous reporter enmity was quickly picked up by the anti-Trump journalism establishment as an actual news story. Continue reading

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Ethics Dunces And Nominee For 2017 Assholes Of The Year: Ugly American Joseph and Travis Dasilva, a.k.a. “The Traveling Butts”

World traveling married couple  Joseph Dasilva, 38, and Travis Dasilva think it’s’ cute and funny to take what they call “belfies,” as in “below-the-belt selfies” at historical, religious and cultural sites in other nations. They then post the disrespectful  photos to Instagram. Above the witty pair is shown  at Bangkok’s Wat Arun, or Temple of the Dawn, baring their asses. Unfortunately, such conduct is illegal in Thailand. The Dasilvas were arrested at the Bangkok airport, fined 5,000 baht ( about$154) each, and will be facing charges of public indecency.

Writes Professor Turley, quite correctly:

So these two travel the world showing utter contempt for historic and cultural sites, then when they get into trouble, the United States spends money and time to try to secure their release from their well-deserved arrests….It remains a mystery why anyone over the age of 4 would find this “Traveling Butts” theme to be funny. Yet, their account had more than 14,000 followers before it was deleted. I find that following far more unsettling than the fact that two adults would engage in this type of offensive conduct. 

What do you want to bet that these two boors loudly condemn the President for projecting a poor image of the U.S. abroad? Continue reading

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President Trump’s First Year: The Ethics Alarms Ethics Audit

 

I planned to do this on November 8, but other matters intervened. Properly I should wait until January, I suppose. Yet I don’t see the grades changing significantly in a month or two.

For the most part, this ethics audit doesn’t consider policy matters. Calling policies unethical is usually a cheap shot and an expression of partisan priorities. I believe that the DACA is unethical; many believe that killing it would be unethical. I could not make a useful analysis using these kinds of controversies.

To keep this simple, I’m going to use the relevant ethical values listed in the Josephson Institute’s Six Pillars of Character, and add some extra categories at the end. As a preface, I have to say that there aren’t many surprises here. I had already concluded long ago that the concept of ethics is meaningless to Donald Trump. In Three Circles terms, he has only one circle, his own, and a Core circle unmoored to either a formal code of ethics or public standards of conduct will only be ethical by accident. I was hopeful that, like other Presidents of dubious character and troubling pasts when they reached office, Trump might make a concerted effort to adopt more traditional Presidential ways. This was always a long-shot, and so far, I see no signs of it happening.

Here are President Trump’s ethics grades through November of his first term, with comments and explanations where needed: Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/30/2017: Bad Tweets, Bad Rep., Bad Rap, Bad NBC…

Bad night, but…

Good Morning!

1 Straight to the top of the charts…When we put together the definitive list of President Trump’s Top Ten (Top 100? Top 1000?) stupid, undignified and self-wounding tweets, yesterday’s sequence of unsubstantiated videos–from a radical right wing British group— of alleged violence by Muslims has to be on the list. I could counter that the eruption of indignation by the vast majority of people who can comprehend what’s wrong with this is a bit annoying from the progressive side—the official Obama Administration position that Islam is a lovely religion of rainbows and unicorns and that Muhammad doesn’t instruct his followers from the grave that infidels are scum and deserve to die is far more dangerous than Trump’s hate-tweets—but that would obscure the key point. Trump’s retweeting is ugly, unnecessary, undignified, looks bigoted, and plays into the hands of the worst of his enemies, who express themselves like this.

Now we have to listen to that dishonest and contrived 25th Amendment garbage again, which never quite stopped anyway. Once again, the President has blown more wind into the sails of anti-democratic hypocrites like Ezra Klein, who argues for a Constitution and Separation of Powers-wrecking version of impeachment to get rid of Trump. No, Trump hasn’t gone crazy: he’s exactly the man we elected, and exactly as able to do his job as he ever was. Tweeting irresponsibly is not a high crime and misdemeanor. Being Donald Trump is not a high crime and misdemeanor.

But the President is playing with fire by encouraging the large political movement that would criminalize not agreeing with their world view. That’s as indefensible as it is idiotic.

2. This much is clear. It is now clear that NBC only fired Matt Lauer because an explosive Variety exposé was on the way, and it was a close call at that. It is pretty clear that the mystery of why NBC rejected journalist Ronan Farrow’s investigative reporting on Harvey Weinstein has been solved: NBC had its own lurking sexual misconduct cover-up to worry about. It is, or should be clear from Variety’s reporting that the astounding brazenness of Lauer’s conduct had to be common knowledge among Lauer’s colleagues and NBC executives, and that they unethically applied The King’s Pass, deliberately allowing Lauer to abuse and terrorize female employees, some of whom played along to get along. TMZ uncovered an old interview in which Katie Couric happily revealed that one consequence of working with Matt was that she got her butt pinched a lot. Nobody paid attention, in part because our pathetic news media buried it. Continue reading

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Alert! Garrison Keillor Becomes The Latest Smug Liberal To Get Run Down By The Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck, And I Should Have Predicted It

Keillor on “The Charlie Rose Show.” I bet Charley agrees with you about Al Franken, Garrison!

From the Washington Post:

Garrison Keillor, who hosted the popular radio show “A Prairie Home Companion” for decades until his retirement last year, has been fired from Minnesota Public Radio after allegations of “inappropriate behavior,” MPR confirmed in a statement Wednesday.

“Minnesota Public Radio is terminating its contracts with Garrison Keillor and his private media companies after recently learning of allegations of his inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him,” the statement read.

I’m not surprised. In fact, when I read Keillor’s head-exploding rationalizations for Al Franken in an op-ed yesterday, also in the Post, I thought, “Hmmmm. This sounds like the logic of a sexual harasser to me. I wonder…?” Foolishly, I didn’t post my suspicions; it was a late cut from today’s Warm-Up.

In his op-ed, “Al Franken should resign? That’s absurd.”, Keillor made the astounding illogical leap of equating the tearing down of statues of historical figures whose conduct was offensive by current standards to excusing current individuals whose conduct—in this case, sexual harassment and assaults—would be acceptable under past standards.

To facilitate this unethical argument and wishful self-applying excuse, the plummy-voiced progressive minimized the complaint of Franken’s first reported victim. I’m numbering each awful section:

Sen. Al Franken…did USO tours overseas when he was in the comedy biz. (1) He did it from deep in his heart, out of patriotism, (2) and the show he did was broad comedy of a sort that goes back to the Middle Ages. (3) Shakespeare used those jokes now and then, and so did Bob Hope and Joey Heatherton when they entertained the troops. (4) If you thought that Al stood outdoors at bases in Iraq and Afghanistan and told stories about small-town life in the Midwest, you were wrong. (5) On the flight home, in a spirit of low comedy, Al ogled Miss Tweeden and pretended to grab her and a picture was taken. (6) Eleven years later, a talk show host in LA, she goes public, (7) and there is talk of resignation. This is pure absurdity, and the atrocity it leads to is a code of public deadliness. No kidding.(8)

Yecchh.

To be more specific: Continue reading

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The Unabomber, The Red Light, And Me [UPDATED!]

I ran a red light last night, and I’m feeling bad about it. Ted Kaczynski made me do it.

It was after midnight, and I was returning home after seeing the pre-Broadway production of the musical “Mean Girls,” based on the cult Lindsay Lohan comedy. I was late, my phone was dead, I knew my wife would be worried, and I was stopped at an intersection where I could see for many football fields in all directions. There were no cars to be seen anywhere.

Ted, , aka “The Unabomber” or “Snookums” to his friends, cited my exact situation as an example of how we have become slaves to our technology. Why do we waste moments of our limited lifespan because of a red light, when there is no reason to be stopped other than because the signal says to. Admittedly, this had bothered me before I read Ted’s complaint. Stop lights should start blinking by midnight, allowing a motorist to proceed with caution, as with a stop sign.  If one isn’t blinking, we should be allowed to treat it as if it is.

Last night, I ran the light. With my luck, there was a camera at the intersection, and I’ll get a ticket in the mail. But..

…whether I do or not doesn’t change the ethical or unethical character of my conduct. That’s just moral luck.

…it was still against the law to run the light, even it I was treating it as a blinking light, because it wasn’t

…breaking the law is unethical, even when the law is stupid, and

…there was no legitimate emergency that could justify my running the light as a utilitarian act.

So I feel guilty. Not guilty enough to turn myself in, but still guilty, since I am guilty.

But Ted wasn’t wrong.

Update: Let me add this; I was thinking in the shower.

On several occasions in the past, I have found myself stopped by a malfunctioning light that appeared to be determined to stay red forever. Is it ethical to go through the light then? The alternative is theoretically being stuck for the rest of my life. So we run such lights, on the theory the frozen stop light is not meeting the intent of the law or the authorities who placed it there, and to remain servile to the light under such circumstances is unreasonable. Yet running it is still breaking the law, and isn’t stopping for a light in the dead of night with no cars to be seen also not consistent with the intent of the law and the light? What’s the distinction?

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