Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/13/18: You Can’t Get Much More Ethics Issues Variety Than This!

Good Morning!

[Mickey is really playing that piano. Boy he was amazing…]

1 A Russian Jumbo!  And it worked! In Russia, Irina Kudinova was charged with mocking the Church after she  posted a photograph that prosecutors alleged was obscene and thus constituted the “deliberate desecration of a religious object” and “insulting the feelings of believers.”   Gee, I can’t imagine why anyone would think THAT..Here’s the photo:

The judge ruled that it was merely a photo of an Easter cake and nothing more. Elephant? What elephant? Or maybe “What elephant phallus?” would be more accurate. Kudinova was awarded 20,000 rubles in a court action for false accusations.

Few cases better illustrate the principle that in Bizarro World attempts at ethical acts become unethical. The problem is that Russia has laws that discourage free speech. In order to undermine an unethical law, the judge in this case made a ruling that is obviously contrary to reality, and what anyone can see with their own eyes. If judges can ignore evidence and deny reality to protect citizens from an unjust law, then they can do the same to unjustly punish citizens who break no laws at all.

I’m happy for Kudinova, but the Russian judge is a well-intentioned ethics dunce. His solution does as much damage as good.

2. “Thanks, Mom and Dad…and bite me.” The parents of GOP Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson each gave $2,700, the maximum allowed, to the primary campaign of the Democrat their son is challenging, Senator Tammy Baldwin. At first I thought this was some kind of tactical move to help their son, like it would be if she were a weaker candidate than her primary opponent. Nope: Nicholson has often spoken about how he was raised in a rabidly Democratic family. Unless Nicholson tortured animals as a child or engaged in conduct similarly unsettling, and the parents know something disqualifying we don’t (in which case they have an obligation to do more than just oppose him, but to expose him), I don’t understand this at all, not with the values I was raised with.

My mother would have supported me if I were running for King of Hell. If my son were running for office, his party and positions would be irrelevant; I’d support my son. I can see the argument that Nicholson’s parents simply have ideological integrity that means more to them than family. I can see it, but I wouldn’t defend it. The only way someone arrives at a decision to place partisan politics over family is when political hate and hysteria have poisoned perspective and priorities. To me, this is like a Red Sox fan cheering for Boston when his son is pitching against the team while playing for the Yankees.

To his credit, Nicholson seems to be taking this betrayal in stride. I’m not sure I would be so gracious. I’m pretty certain my parents and I would not be having Thanksgiving dinner in the same place after that kind of slap in the face.

3. Nah, there’s no media bias! CNN’s “At this Hour” featured the New York Times’ Science and Health reporter Donald McNeil Jr. to discuss the flu epidemic. McNeil attributed an 8% drop in the number of Hispanics getting shots this year in part to President Trump’s “hostility to Spanish language and Hispanics” as well as a “cut back in Spanish-language ads.” He then admitted that the number of all Americans getting flu shots by November has slowly declined in recent years, and that nobody really knew what was causing the fall-off in Hispanic-Americans getting the shots that are readily available to all by walking into any clinic or pharmacy.

Any news organization that is represented on TV by a reporter who defaults to gratuitous Trump-hate without facts or justification needs to discipline that reporter for the sake of its own reputation. That the Times doesn’t shows just how biased and untrustworthy it is, and why public trust in journalism is falling.

And may I add, if you have lived in the United States—legally of course— for more than a short time and don’t know enough English to be able to figure out there’s a flu epidemic, that’s your responsibility, not President Trump’s.

4.  Is the message “Submit to rape” or “Don’t be a jerk”? The story about the 6th grade dance controversy has been irresponsibly slanted in the news media, thanks again to the #MeToo witch hunt environment, leaving ethics in the dust in deference to political correctness and politics.

Utah’s Kanesville Elementary Valentine’s Day dance comes with a directive to 6th grade students that they shouldn’t turn down an invitation to dance. A female student’s mother was horrified, and protested to the principal and the press. The Weber School District confirmed the rule, designed to teach students to be inclusive, polite, and kind. “I do see it from their perspective when it comes to that, but there are many other ways to teach children how to be accepting than with a social dance,” said the “woke” mother. Oh really? I would say that a social dance at that age is the ideal forum to teach such a lesson.

It is not as if the school’s policies don’t allow a student to avoid a particular student and an awkward situation. Prior to the dance, which is voluntary, students are told to fill out a card by selecting five people they want to dance with. The administration says if there’s someone on the card you feel uncomfortable with, the student is encouraged to say so.

But the mother, and now feminists, #MeTooers and every pundit and talking head I’ve read or heard on the subject claims that the dance policy “sends a bad message to girls that girls have to say ‘yes’; [and] sends a bad message to boys that girls can’t say ‘no.'”

Crusader Mom says that rejection is part of life. “Psychologically, my daughter keeps coming to me and saying I can’t say ‘no’ to a boy,” she told reporters. “That’s the message kids are getting.”

Then how about clarifying the message, MOM?  Tell your daughter, “No, dear, the rule exists so mean girls and asshole boys don’t humiliate unpopular students, short students, homely students, poor students, minority students, Jewish students and other kids low on the social scale by publicly marking them as undesirables at an event that is supposed to teach the social graces.”

Sure, rejection is part of life. So are cruelty, discrimination, hate, meanness, and ignorance of the Golden Rule, but those are qualities that schools are supposed to teach students to reject, not practice because after they are adults they should  mature enough to say “no” someone they don’t want to have sex with.

Still hurtling toward “A Nation of Assholes”….

5. Tucker Carlson, call your website... I happen to agree that the official White House portraits of the Obamas unveiled yesterday were affirmatively strange, especially Barack’s, which to my eye looks like the President is about to be eaten by the Wrigley Field outfield wall. Look out, Mr. President!!! It’s right behind you!!!

However the mockery and nasty insults directed at Michelle’s portrait yesterday seem like a concerted effort at payback for a year of “resistance” Trump Hate, and two wrongs don’t make a right.

Particularly ugly were the almost unbroken stream of racist and misogynist insults that dominated the comments on the story on Tucker Carlson’s conservative news and commentary site, “The Daily Caller.” Carlson is now the star of Fox News prime time, and for the website he founded to feature commentary that would sound right at home at a Klan barbecue is, or should be, embarrassing to him, Fox News, and anyone who drops in on the DC for its occasional apt rescue of legitimate stories in the process of being smothered by mainstream media cover-ups.

Ethics Tip: If you can’t or won’t moderate comments on your website to keep out the bigots, the trolls, the racists and the idiots, then don’t allow comments, or don’t start a website.

It’s really that simple.

66 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/13/18: You Can’t Get Much More Ethics Issues Variety Than This!

  1. In #2, I think you mean “rabidly Democratic,” rather than “rapidly.”

    Are the vines in Obama’s portrait Virginia creeper? If so, there is a faint irony there.

    • This quote should answer your question.

      The jurist noted that Wolkoff’s rash decision to ignore the legal proceeding and take matters into his own hands had sealed his fate and prompted the whopping judgment.

      There was an ongoing legal proceeding, he defied the court’s authority. Judges don’t like that.

  2. 1. We are headed this direction in the USA as well. There are so many bureaucratic regulations with the force of law that anyone can be prosecuted, especially in federal court. It is not easy to change such ‘laws’ since elected officials did not write them. There are at least 10,000 federal crimes, but no one even knows exactly how many.

    Trump is doing a fine job repealing many such, but this has been growing for decades, without the will from Establishment Administrations (Democratic and GOP) to address the problem, if they even think of it as a problem. Jury nullification, judges misapplying the law, and citizens working to skirt the law are all we have left.

    Don’t think so? Ever used a unsecured wireless network? Doing so is a federal crime. Have you thrown out junk mail that came to your house, but was addressed to someone else? Up to 5 years in prison and $250,000 per instance. Ever watched a TV show on torrent? Ever owned a song on your phone, and listened to it in a foreign nation? (Your end user agreement might not allow that.) Even sharing a Netflix password with a grown son is verboten. And such regulations do not even require mens rea, criminal intent.

    How about the Lacey Act? In 2008 it was amended to allow for (unknowingly) violating the laws of foreign nations. In this day of easy Internet availability of every product under the sun, if that cool sun hat you ordered was made with leather or grass from a protected species in some little third world country, the Feds can come for you, regardless if that species is protected here. Ignorance of another country’s laws is no excuse. Even sharing a Netflix password with a grown son is verboten.

    It is about control.

    2. Progressivism is a mental disorder. Oh, ANYONE can be a nut: my wife’s ultra conservative grandmother shunned her son for divorcing his first wife to marry his secretary. Progressives just seem to do such things at a greater rate. Not a slam: just an observation.

    3. The media lives in a bubble they created for themselves. The NY Times is a lying rag who once served a greater purpose. I would not trust that organization to tell me the sky is blue without a window nearby.

    4. See #2 above. Like many progressive crusades, #metoo is an ill thought out emotional dumpster fire that ends up hurting the ones they say they want to protect, in this case, women.

    5. Tucker is wrong to not moderate his web site. That said, it is only comment worthy because a conservative site is at fault. We expect this from the comments of (insert any progressive web site here.) Status Quo for liberals to be this nasty. Just sayin’

  3. Ever since leaving office, Obama has exhibited a really strange flair for all things art. Has anyone else seen the model of his future presidential library? It looks like a Chinese take-out box! How dare he culturally appropriate!

    And I’m starting to see stories about the artist who painted these; Kehinde Wiley. Apparently he’s previously depicted white women being decapitated by black women, because empowerment, or something. Worse, perhaps, is that he apparently has a penchant to insert images of sperm into his work “as a reference to African male virility, or potentially, promiscuity,” as quoted by someone I’ll link below, who thinks that there might be a sperm on the upper right side of Obama’s face.

    I can’t find a high-res version of the painting, so I’m not sure that’s true…. But my God, if it is…

    • Is that background some sort of Henri Rousseau reference to a jungle? Is Obama the coolest dude in the jungle, a la H&M’s sweat shirt? Having him seated is really sophomoric. Or trite. I’m not sure which.

        • Right. Sure. Just like Lincoln. Sitting on a bench, resting his elbows on this thighs, waiting for his wife to come out of the rest room. Just like Lincoln. That’s the first thing that came to my mind. He’s Abraham Lincoln.

          • I was referring to the “having him seated” comment. The background is symbolic of his father’s roots in Kenya and his own political rise in Chicago, and is typical of the artist’s renditions of everyday people. It’s different, it’s not your taste, but it’s not disrespectful of the office or the idea of portraiture. Maybe it’s just the idea of a black man leaning forward and looking you in the eye that is so offensive.

            • Sure, that’s why I’m offended.

              Ironically, he doesn’t look particularly black in that picture. Looks pretty much like your average white guy in charge. I’m not at all sure it’s a good likeness. Again, I think he looks more like Richard Nixon than Barack Obama.

  4. What percentage of couples, on average, donate $5,000 to a Senate campaign? There’s a high likelihood that Nicholson’s parents would not have donated at all to his opponent if their son wasn’t running for office. It’s also most likely that they publicized the donations themselves in order to generate “Nicholson’s Own Parents Won’t Support Him” headlines from the predictable press (it would be easy to keep thise donations private, I’d think.)

    Which is to say, there’s a high likelihood that Nicholson’s parents are not just “partisan,” but the sort of sick freaks who tend to populate the world of politics precisely because their rabid “passion” compels them.

  5. Both paintings are done in the typical style of the artists they chose, and they were well aware of this. I respect the ethics observations on this blog but will go elsewhere for art criticism. I love the portrait of Michelle and am okay with Barack’s.

    • You’re pretty much alone among honest opinions of the painting of Michelle, who unless she has had some accident, isn’t gray-colored, never wore her hair that way in 8 years, and basically bears so little resemblance to that portrait that I would not be surprised to find out 10 years from now that it was just an old unclaimed work by that artist and repurposed in a scam.

      I didn’t offer an artistic critique of either painting, by the way. I said they were weird–I like a lot of weird art, like this one…

      I didn’t say Barack’s was a BAD painting of him being slowly attacked by Wrigley Field, I said that’s what it looks to me is happening. And it does. I think it would be a great trailer for a sci-fi movie, “Night of the Living Ball Parks.”

      You know what happened to this official portrait, don’t you? It had some fans too…

      • I didn’t think ballpark trying to eat Obama…I thought old southern grandmother, 4th generation descendant of the original plantation owner sitting in her back garden trying to warm herself in the sun next to her Rhododendron hedge…

          • That’s low and uncalled for by Ben Shapiro. He is usually above those kinds of remarks.

            Slight confusion…That comment was not Shapiro’s, it was me relating what I’ve seen in a couple of other places. There should have been a copy of Shapiro’s tweet, with a picture, before that, but my HTML for the image insertion failed. I left a link to Shapiro’s tweet in another comment that’s now below this one.

            • I don’t think it’s called for. Michelle Obama is an attractive lady. Women in general benefit from genetics anyway, on average I think the vast majority of women pass the bar on attractiveness, where only maybe like a “bottom 3%” are saddled with some rough looks. Of course there are others who condemn themselves to unattractiveness in the way they carry themselves or if they flat out don’t take care of themselves….ever seen the face of a woman who drinks like a fish? Looks embalmed…blecch.

              But because of this benefit of most women on general exceeding the minimal standard in beauty, I think it’s especially inaccurate to label an attractive woman not attractive and especially mean to point out those who are unattractive as unattractive.

              I think, on rare occasions however, it is fair game to comment on a woman who actively makes themselves unattractive through their conduct.

              Men on the other hand suffer the opposite affect. Only a small percentage of men benefit from being above the standard with Sean Connery or George Clooney looks. Most of us do best to look one step above either Shrek, Frankenstein or some awful Nazi propaganda caricature of “untermensch”…

      • The artist that painted Michelle is known for her gray tones in painting African Americans, so Michelle knew what she was getting. Like I said, I’ll go elsewhere for my artistic criticism and I’ve heard plenty of good comments. Love the dress.

  6. 2) I don’t know…I think there’re limits. If my child ran as a Communist, I don’t think I’d openly give money to his opposition, but the most I think he’d get from me is “good luck”. First, I think, if the positions actually espoused represent actual harm to the Republic or are inimical to the nation and it’s values, I think you can reasonably find a limit to automatic parental support. That being said, this would mean these parents believe that about Republican ideology. Which is telling about their own views…and frightening. Second, if my child did espouse views essentially making him or her an enemy to the values of the Republic, I’d probably withdraw from public life and question all my parenting decisions.

    • (That being said, I will come down with it in approximately 4 days, because that’s what happens when I publicly disclose that I haven’t had a particular sickness in a long time).


    • From the “anecdote isn’t data” files, I get the flu shot every year (the do it for free at my place of work so I just have to walk down the hall), and never get the flu. This year I missed it and did get the full blown flu. YMMV.

      • No argument of causation here. I’m merely pointing out that alot of people don’t get the vaccine because at the end of the day the results do seem hit or miss…my wife is a nurse practitioner and comments each year on whether or not they guessed the right strain of flu to vaccinate against and apparently their guesses aren’t stellar.

        So when I stopped getting the vaccine I looked up the stats and it surprised me just how not-ubiquitous vaccine-receivers are in the culture. Something like a 1/3 to just under 1/2 of people actually get the vaccine.

    • Not likely the flu you caught was the same strain as for the vaccine on offer. It happens, especially if you live in an area which has a large percentage of immigrants (legal or not) who may have brought in the bug from a country where vaccines are not available and this year’s combination of strains used to prepare your vaccine did not include the imported one. And if you started feeling ill within two weeks of having it, your body hadn’t yet become entirely resistant. In other words, you didn’t get a crap shot — it IS something of a crap shoot. The ins and outs of flu vaccines are best explained here:

      Regardless, the main reason for getting the vaccine — any vaccine — is to protect society (worldwide, if you look at what has happened in past epidemics), not just yourself. Access to the vaccine and painless applications — you have a choice — have been made as easy as possible. Why gamble with other people’s lives?

  7. I got my flu shot… and I have had flu twice. First time that particular strain was not covered in the flu shot (but gave me enough immunity to shake it off in 2 days instead of 7 to 10)

    The second time was last week, when I had a ‘flu like illness’ which the doc said could be a type of flu they do not test for.

    Being diabetic, flu shots are more mandatory (my insurance kinda insists) but other years I have not gotten the flu at all, including the H1N1 epidemic. My kids all got it that year (mom never got around to getting them flu shots) and I worked from home caring for them.

    Do they work? Dunno. It is about the odds.

  8. #4. Growing up, those who were unpopular or didn’t fit in were encouraged to catch a cold or have a family trip planned whenever dances came around. I never missed it. Why go and be a magnet for trouble?

    • A year of “social” dance classes was mandatory when I was young (this was public school, by the way — all kinds of extras never thought of today: school nurse, Officer Friendly, sewing/ashtray making . . .). Your partner (singular) was chosen for you, supposedly randomly though we were convinced it was deliberate malice, and you were stuck with each other for the entire time. Mine had a medical condition that caused profuse sweating, in this case, of the palms. Neither one of us ever said a word about it, never missed a class, never looked one another in the eye. I never waltzed, fox trotted nor — especially not — tango-ed again.

  9. These ‘portraits’ require a great deal of interpretation. This is a ‘perfect storm’ of true strangeness and this event, like a *text*, requires to be read and interpreted. The dimensions in this seem really and truly weird. There is no doubt that this sick homosexual man does include, and certainly has included in previous paintings, definite and obvious and incontestable images of sperm. It is for me embarrassing to even mention this. Not only to be forced to think about it, and then to see the close-ups, but that this sort of thing is being presented to the entire nation —- to the world! —- and that this will be thought about, talked about.

    There is something even more than just ‘superficially sick’, this is pathologically weird. And yet it fits, strangely so and yet not surprisingly so, into the flow and trajectory of events.

    The meaning(s) here are obvious and cannot be dismissed or down-played. A US First Lady who contracts an artist who incorporates in her work the decapitated heads of the original population of the US is an open declaration that a deep racial enmity is being played out. It is now out of the box and on open ground for all to see. It is not possible to misconstrue meaning.

    As to the President’s portrait, and the artist chosen, I think this is one of the most bizarre event-communications that I have observed over the last 3-4 years. It requires, quite literally, an exposition of semiotics to get to the bottom of it. It is brought out through various levels which are sub-rational.

    The levels of weirdness are increasing daily. I might have to slaughter a guinea pig and examine its liver to be able to read what this portends.

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