It’s Monday again.
1. Ethics Neurosis. I failed to get an Ethics Warm-Up or an equivalent posted this past Saturday, and still feel guilty about it after feeling guilty all weekend. This is not healthy. I had an early morning seminar to teach as well as some urgent family business to tend to afterwards, and then found myself thoroughly exhausted. I just couldn’t rouse myself to the task, then felt like I was failing my duties of diligence and responsibility.
This is especially weird, because I’m kind of frustrated over the blog these days. Traffic continues to lag, having dropped about 10% since the overheated days of 2016, and 2018 is a little behind last year, meaning that there is a goodly chance that Ethics Alarms will have negative growth two years in a row after trending up for its first seven years. I attribute the slump to Mr. Trump, as the New York Times calls him, the “resistance,” as the large bloc of progressives, including those in the news media, who have refused to do the ethical thing and let Mr. Trump be the President he was elected to be without unprecedented disrespect, sabotage and interference from them, and the rigid polarization, social and political, the two have created among members of the public who are now crippled by hate, anger and bias.
One of my Facebook friends, in this case a real friend who has occasionally commented here, recently noted innocently that one of Melania Trump’s dresses was gorgeous, and even though he had led with a disclaimer that he did not want his observation to prompt political invective, several of his own FBF’s reacted by attacking the First Lady. One called her a “ho;” another opined that she had no soul, which is the only way she could be married to this President of the United States. I told the latter commenter to “Get help,” and he responded by declaring me a racist. This is the kind of deranged logic that has caused committed leftists from visiting here, being rational, and discussing ethics. One of our prominent and most noisy excommunicants recently wrote me to say that since I apparently approved of “putting children in cages,” he was glad to be gone.
Maybe such individuals will be able to reason objectively again some day. I’ve got to learn to stop beating myself up if they can’t. Writing an ethics blog is too much work and responsibility to do every day when it makes me unhappy.
2. Why I don’t give a damn what the Pope thinks. I watched “Spotlight” again yesterday, the Academy Award-winning film about how the Boston Globe broke the Catholic Church child molestation scandal 18 years ago. It ends with a disturbing four screens of small type listing all of the cities in the U.S. and the world where major child molesting scandals and cover-ups had been exposed. (There have been more since.) Come to think of it, I also lost some readers here over the Ethics Alarms (correct) position that a religious organization that could allow this catastrophe to happen had forfeited its moral authority and was untrustworthy.
Then I read a prominent story above the fold in today’s Times that begins,
As a young man studying to be a priest in the 1980s, Robert Ciolek was flattered when his brilliant, charismatic bishop in Metuchen, N.J., Theodore E. McCarrick, told him he was a shining star, cut out to study in Rome and rise high in the church.
Bishop McCarrick began inviting him on overnight trips, sometimes alone and sometimes with other young men training to be priests. There, the bishop would often assign Mr. Ciolek to share his room, which had only one bed. The two men would sometimes say night prayers together, before Bishop McCarrick would make a request — “come over here and rub my shoulders a little”— that extended into unwanted touching in bed.
Mr. Ciolek, who was in his early 20s at the time, said he felt unable to say no, in part because he had been sexually abused by a teacher in his Catholic high school, a trauma he had shared with the bishop.
“I trusted him, I confided in him, I admired him,” Mr. Ciolek said in an interview this month, the first time he has spoken publicly about the abuse, which lasted for several years while Mr. Ciolek was a seminarian and later a priest. “I couldn’t imagine that he would have anything other than my best interests in mind.”
Bishop McCarrick went on to climb the ranks of the Roman Catholic hierarchy — from head of the small Diocese of Metuchen to archbishop of Newark and then archbishop of Washington, where he was made a cardinal. He remained into his 80s one of the most recognized American cardinals on the global stage, a Washington power broker who participated in funeral masses for political luminaries like Edward M. Kennedy, the longtime Massachusetts senator, and Beau Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Suddenly, last month, Cardinal McCarrick was removed from ministry, after the Archdiocese of New York deemed credible an accusation that he had molested a 16-year-old altar boy nearly 50 years ago.
Cardinal McCarrick, now 88, who declined to comment for this article, said in a statement last month that he had no recollection of the abuse. He is the highest-ranking Catholic official in the United States to be removed for sexual abuse of a minor.
The Pope was elected by people like this.
And as in “Spotlight,” when the argument was used to excuse Boston’s Cardinal Law, who enabled hundreds of molesters, we are assured by its defenders that the Church “does good work” and “we need’ what it provides” a perfect merging of Rationalization #12, “The Siant’s Excuse,” and Rationalization #10, “The King’s Pass.”
3. Today’s baseball ethics note: As we pause for the All-Star Game (the Red Sox have five players on the A.L. squad), let us note that yesterday New York Yankee manager apologized, saying he was wrong when he vociferously argued that umpires had wrongly called one of his players’ foul balls a swinging strike, getting himself thrown out of the game in the process. Good for Boone. John Wayne didn’t write the line, but when he said, as Captain Nathan Brittles in one of the Duke’s best films, 1949’s “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon,” that apologizing was a sign of weakness, it encouraged several generations of jerks to take the advice as gospel. It isn’t. Apologizing is a sign of strength, honesty, and principal.
4. Since I’m in a bad mood already, let’s see what the New York Times has on its op-ed pages…Ah! Here’s the headline of Charles M. Blow’s weekly exercise in Anti-Trump mania: “Trump, Treasonous Traitor.” I don’t think Blow has written a single column that wasn’t a Trump-Hate orgy in two years! Aren’t Times readers a little bit bored with this? Aren’t his editors?
What else…Oh! Here is Michael Tomasky, a free-lance Hillary shill who wrote some of the most head-exploding pieces on the 2016 campaign at the Huffington Post, explaining that Senate Democrats’ doomed efforts to derail the Kavanaugh nomination should focus “on President Trump’s character.” Never mind that confirmation hearings are supposed to be about the qualifications of the nominee, not the quirks and flaws of the man who chose him, Tomasky has a theory. You see, in nominating Kavanaugh, President Treason McTraitorface, or whatever Charles Blow calls him in his next column, might be ” naming one of his own future jurors.” This is a grave constitutional issue, says Tomasky. “The Democrats’ job here is to get Judge Kavanaugh on the record such that if he does someday rule that Mr. Trump cannot be prosecuted, the public will be outraged.”
Of course, every President who nominates a Supreme Court Justice is potentially naming “one of his own future jurors.” The entire “resistance,” however, is built on the completely evidence-free assumption that this President is a criminal, because the modern Democratic Party is determined, as Alan Dershowitz and Jonathan Turley put it, to criminalize politics.
5. At least Ethics Alarms is consistent. Sacha Baron Cohen, the auteur of “Borat” whose comedy schtick is using false identities and outrageous personas to gull his on-camera victims into hilariously making asses of themselves, has a new show on “Showtime” in which he hilariously punks politicians and activists, most hilariously the conservative variety, getting them to utter such ridiculous opinions as Congressman Joe Wilson’s (Guess which party!) positions that it was reasonable to arm pre-schoolers. Liberals love Cohen but detest James O’Keefe, and Washington Post writer Hank Steuver raises the obvious hypocrisy.
Happily, the Ethics Alarms positions on O’Keefe and Cohen, as well as The Daily Show’s similar segments where they tricked conservatives—it was almost always conservatives—into saying stupid things are the same. Lying to manipulate people, whatever the goal, is unethical, a pure Golden Rule breach, and what people say when they are being encouraged to say it often isn’t a fair representation of their beliefs. The mild practical jokes of “Candid Camera” have metastasized into a culture-wide disrespect for the truth and fairness, and an acceptance of the anti-Kant principle that it’s all right to use human beings as a means to an end.
6. Again, a complaint that the President isn’t presenting his face to be slapped. The Times this morning complains that President Trump has yet to award the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal to any deserving artist recipients, a “gotcha!” approximately in line with complaints that Trump didn’t throw out the first baseball of the 2018 season so Washington D.C. fans could boo and jeer him. Artists, like athletes, have been nearly unanimous in their united disrespectful treatment of President Trump, using their artistic achievements to justify political grandstanding. They boycotted his Inauguration, and forced him to stay away from the Kennedy Center Honors. The two medals are now a set-up: the President knows that one, more, or even all of the recipients will find a way to embarrass him by refusing the honor and making a nasty public statement to explain why.
The tactic of the “resistance” has been to strip this President of the traditional non-political, no-partisan, unifying functions of his position. Swell…they can live with the consequences of that strategy. Artists, who mostly give lip-service to “the resistance” because they have the political sophistication of sixth-graders, can learn to behave graciously. If I were President Trump, I would make it known that if a single medal recipient announces a boycott, no arts medals will be awarded at all, as long as he is in the White House.
Of course, that would risk losing maybe four or five votes in 2020…