Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/9/17: Everyone Behaving Abysmally Edition

Let’s scream “Good Morning!” to the sky!

1 The FBI is now complaining that it’s too difficult to break into smartphones, since the Texas maniac, Devin Kelley, had one that has so far resisted cracking. By all means, let’s make sure we have no privacy from government intrusions into our lives and relationships. I’m sure—I really am sure—that the “think of the children!” mob and the “if it saves only one life!” brigade will happily surrender the right to privacy, which is, per the Supreme Court, is also in the Bill of Rights, just like the rights of free speech and the right to bear arms.

The solution is right in front of the FBI anyway.  Just take Kelley ‘s body on a plane trip to Bali, manipulate his dead thumb, and use it to unlock the phone.

2. I see little to choose from ethically between Facebook selling space for deceptive ads to the Russians and CNN selling time on their newscasts for a billionaire to make his personal, dishonest and ignorant demand that President Trump be impeached. I had heard and read about the ad, which is basically Maxine Waters’ warped version of the Constitution and the impeachment clause, with a little Richard Painter thrown in, but I assumed I would have to go online to see it. Nope, there it was this morning during a break on Headline News. Respectable news sources, not that CNN qualifies any more, have traditionally rejected factually misleading political ads from private interests, and a Constitutionally moronic rant from a rich guy with money to burn surely should qualify.

The rich guy is Tom Steyer, who apparently once was an intelligent human being even as you and I. His ad claims that “Donald Trump has brought us to the brink of nuclear war, obstructed justice, and taken money from foreign governments. We need to impeach this dangerous president.” Let’s see: the first is pure hysteria and an attempt to criminalize policy and international poker (I’d argue that the weak response to North Korea by the U.N. and previous administrations has been what has “brought us to the brink,” as well as, of course, the rogue country threatening nuclear attacks and firing missiles over Japan).

The second is a gonzo anti-Trump resistance theory that would be tossed out of any court, except maybe in Hawaii. The third is intentionally dishonest: this is the Emoluments Clause fantasy that holds the discredited theory a hotel owner has to be impeached if he doesn’t sell his hotels. Steyer’s ad also says that that Trump should be impeached for various tweets, half-baked opinions and comments. As one would expect from a  Democratic mega-donor, he apparently believes that speech qualifies as a high crime when it annoys progressives.

Naturally, again as one would expect, Steyer implies in his ad that Bill Clinton, who really did commit a crime as President and really did obstruct justice, was impeached by a Republican Congress for “far less.” This disqualifies him as a serious person.

3. Baseball fans know that Roy Halladay, a near-Hall of Fame pitcher with the Blue Jays and Phillies renowned for his durability until his arm fell off (metaphorically speaking), was killed this week when he crashed his single engine plane into the Gulf of Mexico. Observers say he was flying recklessly, and there is evidence that he wasn’t properly experienced to be operating the plane as he was. In Boston, radio sports jockey Michael Felger went on an extended rant excoriating the dead pitcher for being irresponsible, especially as a husband and father.  Here’s a sample:

“It angers me. Someone, who, I don’t know, is so cavalier about life and just doesn’t appreciate the tenuousness of life and is willing to screw around with life and death? Especially when you have children, or a family?…You’ve got to get your rocks off by whatever it is you do that cheats death. That guy’s like the bad guy to me. You’ve got a family! And you’re going to screw around in a little toy plane?…When this guy went down in the plane yesterday, I said, ‘I don’t know the details, but hopefully this isn’t JFK Jr., somebody who doesn’t know what he’s doing, screwing around with a plane and killing himself for all intents and purposes.’ And it just sort of angers me. You care that little about your life? About the life of your family? Your little joyride is that important to you that you’re going to risk just dying?..You’re a multimillionaire with a loving family, and to you, you have to go get that thing where you can dive bomb from 100 feet to five above the water with your single-engine plane with your hand out the window. ‘Wheee! Wheee! Yeah, man, look at the G-force on this! I’m Maverick! Pew pew pew! Yeah, man, look at this, this is so cool.’ And you die! Splat!”

For some reason, people had a problem with the tone of this.

I also have a problem with it, but I get the point, and have indeed made the point in somewhat similar cases, as in the death of Miami Marlins pitching star Jose Fernandez, last year, when I wrote,

“There is a level of recklessness, irresponsible conduct, arrogance and stupidity that cannot be excused, and whatever the level is, Fernandez exceeded it. The fact that he was killed himself was moral luck: imagine if only he had survived. Fernandez would be facing homicide charges and serious prison time….and would deserve it all. He had a family, a child, a city, a baseball team, and a sport all relying on him, and he decides to risk it all for coke, booze, and a speed boat ride, killing not only himself but two other human beings, who had families and responsibilities of their own? He was  no hero. He was a deadly, selfish, asshole.”

There was a material distinction, however. Fernandez was operating a vehicle while impaired on coke and alcohol. His actions were criminal, and he killed two other people. he also wasn’t married to the eventual mother of his child, and thus his death meant that neither mother nor child had been provided for in a will.

I hold a personal belief that it is unethical for people with others who depend on them to take unnecessary risks for mere thrills and entertainment. That is what Halladay was doing, I think, but I doubt he thought he was risking his life. He made a fatal error of judgment, that’s all, and paid a high price. This is just being human, after all. The complete callousness and lack of sympathy and compassion that Felger expressed is unfair. The reaction to a fellow human being making a fatal mistake should be to learn from it, and spread the lesson to others, not raw hate.

4. The Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck with the Little Red Kevin Spacey Caboose continues to head to 17th Century Salem, Massachusetts.

Yesterday (when there were more alleged Spacey victims in the news, including another 14-year-old),  “The National Enquirer”  published a claim by actor Dominick Brascia in which he accused Hollywood bad boy Charlie Sheen of raping the late child star Corey Haim during the filming of the 1986 movie “Lucas.” “He told me they smoked pot and had sex. He said they had anal sex,” Brascia told the publication. “Haim said after it happened Sheen became very cold and rejected him. When Corey wanted to fool around again, Charlie was not interested.” Brascia’s description of the encounter was corroborated by “dozens of other sources,” according to the supermarket tabloid.

Haim, a troubled performer whose career never survived his teens and who ultimately committed suicide,  was just 13  in 1986. Sheen was 19, making the alleged encounter statutory rape even if it was “consensual,” as one anonymous Sheen friend described it to the publication.  The allegation also seems to match up with Haim’s  pal and fellow child star Corey Feldman’s memoir, “Coreyography,” in which the other Corey described an alleged encounter between Haim and an “adult” co-star without revealing his name.

Charley Sheen is an awful human being, and I’d believe almost anything about him right up to cannibalism. Still, this is pure hearsay. Haim is dead. Sheen is on thin career ice anyway, and deserves to be, so this latest scandal could finally do him in. Yet there is absolutely no evidence to support it. Sheen denies the accusation, which is, under these circumstances, 30 years late and relating to a victim who can’t speak for himself, unfair and irresponsible. It hould never have been published.

Wow, the National Enquirer was unethical!

My guess is that this accusation will still destroy Sheen. He should have been a Hollywood outcast long before this, but this is like “The Postman Always Rings Twice”: a guilty man being executed for the wrong crime.


Sources: Vulture, Awful Announcing

9 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/9/17: Everyone Behaving Abysmally Edition

  1. Naturally, again as one would expect, Steyer implies in his ad that Bill Clinton, who really did commit a crime as President and really did obstruct justice, was impeached by a Republican Congress for “far less.” This disqualifies him as a serious person.

    Bill Clinton was also the one who signed that nuclear deal with North Korea.

    The third is intentionally dishonest: this is the Emoluments Clause fantasy that holds the discredited theory a hotel owner has to be impeached if he doesn’t sell his hotels.

    As the Department of Justice pointed out, President Obama accepted money from foreign governments.

    I found it shocking that Laurence Tribe and Erwin Chereminsky signed on to this half-baked legal theory.

  2. Roy Halladay was an old man by baseball playing standards but still a young man in terms of adrenaline thrill seeking and perhaps even judgment. Plus, he was a high performance jock. Youth is a very dangerous and often fatal disease.

    • As noted, Halladay didn’t kill any passengers, as did Jose Fernandez. Big difference. Plus, his widow and kids will be very well provided for for the rest of their lives. Very unfortunate but not as awful as Fernandez getting liquored and coked up and killing himself and two buddies because he was pissed off his pregnant girlfriend had the audacity to assume he was obligated to marry her and stop playing the field (so to speak).

    • It’s a good point. Athletes often have a hard time adjusting to being out of their chosen field for good when they are still young. Some handle it well because they have other talents and interests. Jim Bunning went into politics and became a Senator. So did Bill Bradley. Ted Williams became a professional fly-fisherman. But the more limited, less talented, less bright ex-stars often end up depressed, addicted, in jail, or dead. Or, if they played football, drooling and demented.

  3. Regarding #1, here’s my solution:

    The police produce a warrant to examine a smartphone’s contents belonging to a person unable to open it (due to death or coma). The smartphone manufacturer takes the phone and the officer(s) assigned to the investigation to a locked, camera-monitored room which only a handful of people have access to. Inside is a password-protected computer, which is not hooked up to any network, and has no software on it except a designated hacking program designed solely for the purpose of opening the smartphone. They plug the phone into the computer, and the program does its thing. When the authorities get what they need, the computer is shut down, covered up, the door is locked, and no-one goes into that room for any reason whatsoever until the next search warrant.

  4. 2- Tommy Steyer is an EPIC Lefty Phony POS (forgive the redundancy)

    He was for dirty fuel before he was against it, his Farallon Capital Management showered $100’$ of million$ on coal mining and power plants that burned it.

    Perhaps his saving grace is he invested in areas like China, Indonesia, & other parts of the Far East, places well know for their environmentally conscious-n-cautious approach to a hale-n-hearty Mother Gaia.

    Is that his only knock?

    Not exactly.

    Typical “Nice 1 % er” Lefty: he brushes a few crumbs off’n his well-appointed table and voilà, instant credibility with career Lefties, who believe in nothing but will fall for anything.

    He plopped $163 mill into 15 elections in 2014 & 2016 hoping to promote the Global Warming that’s here and worse than the models predicted, only 7 of his candidates won.

    Pity, that.

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