Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/22/17: Uber, Thanksgiving Hate, Accountability, Trump’s Unavoidable Choice, And Ruing The Day That Changed Everything

Good Morning.

…But 54 years ago it seemed like a beautiful morning in Dealey Plaza…

1 “President Kennedy is dead…” I heard those word over my little black transistor radio that I mostly used to listen to Red Sox games. Let’s see how many news stories take note of the historical significance of today: the anniversary of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas. It is the date when a disturbed crypto-Communist radical took the fate and future of an entire nation and culture in his hands, and squeezed them to pulp—one of the three or four most unethical acts in U.S. history. As readers here know, I am not a Jack Kennedy admirer. Nonetheless, in “Back to the Future II” terms, it’s impossible to imagine what 2017 America would be like had Lee Harvey Oswald not shot the top of JFK’s head off in 1963, but it’s easy to imagine that we would be better. The assassination created a violent shift in the time/space continuum, and we never got back on track.

2. Bye-Bye Uber, you’re also dead to me. Uber is untrustworthy and unethical, and anyone who trusts the company going forward is a fool as well as an enabler of corporate misconduct. This is signature significance: the company revealed that hackers stole 57 million driver and rider accounts last year, yet Uber withheld that fact from the public until now after paying a $100,000 ransom to the hackers. Ethical, competent, trustworthy companies don’t operate this way.

It wasn’t just the company’s juvenile and piggish former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick. The company he created inherited his ethical deficits like a lethal gene. Any company is obligated to reveal hacks of personal data to members of the public who might be harmed by them immediately.

If you use Uber after this, you’re an idiot. You’re also sending the message that an epic breach of trust by a corporation will be shrugged off via one or twenty rationalizations, like 19. The Perfection Diversion: “Nobody’s Perfect!” or “Everybody makes mistakes!”

Keep sending that message, and pretty soon they’ll be using 1. The Golden Rationalization, or “Everybody does it.”

3. More Tales of the Anti-Trump Deranged: This essay in the virulent Trump-hating CG is meant humorously, but also is serious in its nastiness. Joe Berkowitz’s call to good little resistance members and Hillary bitter-enders to “ruin thanksgiving” as their “civic duty” stands as a self-indictment of the ugly, divisive mindset that so much of the Left has descended into over the past year. In fact, with just a few tweaks, it could have been written by a conservative satirist—if there were such things.

One aspect of Trump’s election turning the U.S. into a “Nation of Assholes” that I did not see coming was progressives and Democrats feeling liberated to go full-asshole themselves. This article shows the phenomenon. In particular, Berkowitz demonstrates how the Left can no longer distinguish between legitimate policy disagreements and what should be a matter of non-partisan consensus. His argument for using Thanksgiving to punish Trump supporting relatives by turning a celebration of faith and family into a table-top Gettysburg goes like this:

They can’t stand idly by while President Deals tramples every other American tradition and yet somehow expect that Thanksgiving will be normal too. [Note: Supporting the elected President is one of those traditions, and a crucial one.]…Here are a few suggestions for how to ruin Thanksgiving, arranged by ascending order of righteous fury:

Don’t show up. For some parents, your absence will speak louder than any sodden arguments over the density of pumpkin pie. If you can’t even look them in the eye, they’ll know you mean business. [Note: Is he joking? I know many families who are eschewing family gatherings for exactly this reason. Yes, I put most of this on the Angry Left and Barack Obama, aided and abetted by late night TV comics and the news media. They have set out to divide the nation by race, gender, age, class and party, seeking to build metaphorical walls where once there were divisions that could be forgotten or ignored during recreation and the shared commonality of citizenship. .]

Show up and be kind of an asshole. No hugs; only stiff, formal handshakes. During the football game, talk about police brutality nonstop. Take any opportunity to emphasize just how much Bruce Springsteen and the entire E Street band loathes Trump….[Note: See?]

Scorched Earth. Not even a handshake; just stare, disgustedly, at their outstretched arms….[Note: Among the  inarguable outrages that the essayist claims justifies such treatment: not supporting an increase in the minimum wage, refusing to uncritically accept climate change propaganda, and the President speaking “almost exclusively in racist dog whistles and ‘locker room talk.'” You know, racist dogwhistles like opposing the tearing down statues of Robert E. Lee,  correctly stating that a white nationalist group has the same rights to assemble and protest as anyone else without being attacked,  or objecting to NFL players inflicting an incoherent protest on their captive audience. ]

I was asked for ethics advice regarding looming political disputes during Thanksgiving, and here it is: It is rude and unkind to raise a topic you know is emotional and painful for people at the table. So don’t do it, just as you wouldn’t (I hope) deliberately raise such topics as Cousin Cecile’s abortion, Jim Jr.’s arrest, or Uncle Ethan’s IRS problems.

However, I reserve the right to go Popeye whenever someone states as fact something that is a pernicious misrepresentation. Allowing these misrepresentations and talking points to go unchallenged is tantamount to endorsing them. I will not sit by, for example, when a family member claims that opposing illegal immigration is racist and xenophobic, that NFL players have a right to stage protests on the field, or that “hate speech” isn’t protected by the Constitution, or shouldn’t be. Just make sure you have your facts as straight as their facts are crooked.

4. Won’t somebody explain to Kathy Griffin what “accountability” is?  It is times like these when I’m grateful for the Warm-Up, because otherwise I might have to devote a whole post to Kathy Griffin, who isn’t worth it. Still, it is worthwhile to point to her as a teachable opportunity. The fast-sinking celebrity-snark comic released a YouTube video wailing about the unfairness of her fate, becoming persona non grata following her dead-faced pose holding a prop bloody head of the President of the United States. Her “why won’t anyone hire me?” lament goes right into the Self-Answering Video Query Hall of Fame next to Hillary’s “Why am I not ahead by 50 points?” ad.

Griffin crossed a line that before this President no comedian would have ever dreamed of crossing. Does November 22 ring a bell, you moron? We don’t joke about killing Presidents, because not only isn’t it not funny, it rips open ugly scars, breaks basic rules of civility and political discourse, and is potentially dangerous. Nonetheless, you never apologized to the President or his family, immediately claimed to be the victim rather than the offender,  and, in a burst of true stupidity, attacked your former employer, CNN, and your New Years Eve partner, Anderson Cooper, for distancing themselves from you, a decision they literally had no choice regarding unless they wanted to make their already obvious anti-Trump bias official.

You’re not being hired, Kathy, because nobody likes you. That’s because you have behaved abominably, and continue to, now by acting as if any performer has a right to be on TV or be paid to perform when very few people want to see or hear her, if they ever did. (I liked Griffin as a comic actress, as on “Seinfeld” and “Suddenly Susan” as Brooke Shield’s wisecracking co-worker, but then she wasn’t writing her own lines.)

When you show that you understand what was wrong with holding a President’s bloody head [Hint: still saying “I know I took a picture that offended a lot of people…” won’t do it] , accept full responsibility, apologize to the President and his family, and announce that you will accept this self-created setback and start working your way back by making audiences laugh wherever you find them, and not by demanding work and shouting that you have been “blacklisted,” then you might, maybe, have a career again.

5. Today’s obligatory Roy Moore note: Even Fox News is chiding President Trump for supporting Roy Moore’s Senate candidacy. Wrong. It is unreasonable to expect him to do anything else. Trump, it should be remembered, opposed Moore’s candidacy in the primary, but Alabama’s Republicans gave him a damned if you do, more damned if you don’t choice. Now, if the Democratic Party were responsible, and didn’t have elected members of Congress trying to reverse the election, with the assistance of their captive news media, by impeaching the President for the crime of not being a Democrat, I might argue that the ethical position for him to take would be that Moore is unfit to serve. (That is and was my position, even before we learned that he stalked cheerleaders in training bras.) Trump’s primary duty, however, is not maintaining the integrity of the Senate, but maintaining the integrity of the Presidency and the electoral system. That means fighting the dangerous effort by an increasingly anti-democracy party—How ironic!—that doesn’t respect the electorate or the Constitution, to make Presidential elections subject to their veto.

 

14 Comments

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14 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/22/17: Uber, Thanksgiving Hate, Accountability, Trump’s Unavoidable Choice, And Ruing The Day That Changed Everything

  1. philk57

    Also the day that C.S Lewis died.

  2. Kyjo

    Sadly I have a number of friends and acquaintances at Uber. I feel embarrassed for them every time news like this comes to light. I had a career opportunity there myself, but turned it down in large part because I had concerns about Uber’s (un)ethical culture. I’ll never regret that decision.

  3. Ash

    I suspect that Uber will try to get past it saying “that was then, this is now” and blaming it all on Kalanick who is now mostly gone (gone except for in the Board Room and holding huge amounts of voting rights)

    I suspect too that will mostly work, I mean, come on, it’s only 57,000,000 people, we’ve all had our identity stolen by now, and by now most people using Uber care more for a cheap ride than an ethical ride.

  4. Other Bill

    The Thanksgiving Tactics list has one glaring weakness in it: how are your victims supposed to know what you’re angry about? Reminds me of Joe Garagiola Jr.’s response to the perpetually snarly Randy Johnson’s agent telling Joe Jr. that if such and such wasn’t in the contract, Randy would be angry. Joe’s response: “How will I be able to tell?”

  5. luckyesteeyoreman

    1. If JFK’s assassination had not begun “a violent shift in the time/space continuum” from which “we never got back on track,” some other event would have occurred to produce an equivalent national trauma. We were a Nation of Luckys in October 1962. In those days, plenty of other things could have happened in place of the JFK assassination, but didn’t. It doesn’t take much imagination: death of the First Lady; assassination of the Vice President or one of the ex-presidents (Truman or Eisenhower, but not Hoover); suicide (or murder) of some other nationally known and loved figure while on camera (a murder of Cronkite or Huntley or Brinkley on the evening news [which would have totally aborted any impact of the movie “Network”], or of any one of a dozen or so athletes or other entertainers, or Billy Graham in mid-sermon, for examples); remember James Meredith? (I do; that was awfully close to “equal” to Little Rock public school integration in the 1950s; I was just a kid, but I recognized the tensions that brewed about him); an earlier assassination of John Lennon (or one of the other Beatles) while the Beatles made their splash in the U.S…losing JFK that way was bad enough.

  6. #3

    https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/blog/how-to-talk-to-your-family-about-planned-parenthood-this-thanksgiving

    An article from last year that they are re-promoting this year.

    Alternate title: “How to ensure no one in your *family likes you”

    The intro:

    “So. Tis the season for gathering ’round the holiday table with your loved ones, or your liked ones, or your in-laws you have no choice but to tolerate once a year, or your college bestie and her “UGH, what is she even thinking?!” significant other.

    And you know one of the most important questions people will ask — besides “Where’s the wine?” and “Are two dozen pies really enough?” — is: “What will happen to Planned Parenthood?”

    So here’s how you can be the holiday hero by dropping some real talk knowledge at the table:”

    The hell? What kind of tone deaf willfully obtuse person thinks this?

    *family: I know there are some insufferably miserable families that are so chock full of political busybodies that they indeed would talk about things like this

  7. Chris

    5. Today’s obligatory Roy Moore note: Even Fox News is chiding President Trump for supporting Roy Moore’s Senate candidacy. Wrong. It is unreasonable to expect him to do anything else. Trump, it should be remembered, opposed Moore’s candidacy in the primary, but Alabama’s Republicans gave him a damned if you do, more damned if you don’t choice. Now, if the Democratic Party were responsible, and didn’t have elected members of Congress trying to reverse the election, with the assistance of their captive news media, by impeaching the President for the crime of not being a Democrat, I might argue that the ethical position for him to take would be that Moore is unfit to serve. (That is and was my position, even before we learned that he stalked cheerleaders in training bras.) Trump’s primary duty, however, is not maintaining the integrity of the Senate, but maintaining the integrity of the Presidency and the electoral system. That means fighting the dangerous effort by an increasingly anti-democracy party—How ironic!—that doesn’t respect the electorate or the Constitution, to make Presidential elections subject to their veto.

    Wait. You’re saying that Trump’s primary duty is to make sure no more Democrats get elected to Congress so that he won’t be impeached?

    This is pure ends-justify-the-means, Jack. Roy Moore is unfit to serve. His Democratic opponent is not. Trump, like anyone else, has an ethical duty to oppose Roy Moore. This is simple.

    • You’re being silly. The President was elected, and he has a duty to stay in office, as well as to protect the office and the Constitution against an organized, illegal attempt to do permanent damage to the our Democracy. “The ends justify the means” is a fallacy as a generality. It is not always untrue. Allwoing an unqualified Senator to be one of a hundred in order to ensure the integrity of our system of government? Easy call. In that case, the end is infinitely more important.

      • Chris

        Roy Moore being in government does not ensure the integrity of our government, for the many reasons you’ve previously laid out. Your position is no different from Republicans who supported Moore from the beginning because they couldn’t abide a Democrat in office. And by your logic, do we now all have an obligation to support any Republican over any Democrat, simply to ensure Trump doesn’t get impeached? I don’t see how that’s anything but an inescapable conclusion from your argument.

        • You seem to be getting me mixed up with President Trump. MY position is that no one should vote for Moore. The President has a different set of duties and priorities. His duty is to 1) get his policies enacted and 2) to avoid the illegal effort to reverse the election. From his perspective, supporting Moore is both pragmatic and correct.

          Not mine, not Alabama’s, not the Senate’s, nor even the Party’s.

          • Chris

            You are, once again, essentially arguing that the president has fewer ethical obligations than most people.

            The President has a different set of duties and priorities. His duty is to 1) get his policies enacted and 2) to avoid the illegal effort to reverse the election.

            You can’t possibly believe these are the president’s only two duties. He is our nation’s leader. He has an ethical duty to set an example of ethical behavior and to support ethical people in government. Supporting Roy Moore actively goes against that ethical duty, and further undermines his leadership.

            The fact that Trump faces more resistance than any previous president only enhances the importance of this ethical duty. You honestly think the correct response to the Democrats’ constant refrain of Trump being unfit for office is for Trump to support more people who are unfit for office? You think Trump defending a theocratic predator of teenagers *helps* him defend himself against those who want him gone? That’s nuts. The erhical thing to do would be to take the high road and say he won’t support Moore despite his party affiliation. Just because Trump is constitutionally incapable of taking the high road doesn’t make this any less true.

            Also, there is no “illegal effort to reverse the election.” Name one illegal thing the Democrats have done to get Trump out of office. You can’t. They have forwarded legally dubious *theories,* but they have not engaged in any illegal conduct, thus their effort cannot be described as “illegal.” If they do eventually get Trump impeached for, say, his tweets about LaVar Ball, then yes, that would be an illegal impeachment. But that’s not going to happen. If Trump is impeached, it will be over something legitimate.

            • Any President has completely different ethical obligations in his office than anyone else. I would think that would be obvious. No?

              • Chris

                I’m not sure what you mean. Certainly the president has some ethical obligations that others don’t, and I imagine that he lacks some ethical obligations that others have, though I can’t think of what those might be at the moment. But it also seems obvious to me that demonstrating leadership by supporting ethical leaders and opposing unethical ones is one of his obligations.

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