There are three reasons I just sat down to try to write the first Ethics Warm-Up in three days. The first is that the new, mandatory WordPress format makes it too difficult to create a post on my laptop, so I have to retreat to my office, a larger screen and my more responsive PC to compose, requiring me to abandon my wife and my dog. The second is, frankly, that writing posts just isn’t fun when I have to struggle with software that is actively impeding me.
The third is that I am increasingly feeling as if the fate of the United States of America rests on its citizens being responsible, becoming informed and realizing what awaits them and the nation if the Democrats seize power—and I do mean seize—and I feel as if what I do here is the equivalent of pointing out dolphins, flying fish and sunsets from the decks of the Titanic.
Oh, all right: I’m also boycotting baseball, which has been one of my greatest sources of joy and inspiration since childhood.
Almost nobody I know well or have met face to face reads Ethics Alarms. My family doesn’t, except for Grace. My son doesn’t; most of my friends don’t: I’m only aware of a couple. I did have a nice encounter this week when a neighbor I had never met called out my name, near my home: he recognized me from the photo on the blog and Spuds, whom I was walking at the time.
I used to be on other media occasionally; Michel Martin used me as a regular ethics commentator on NPR. Then she started cutting my segments to shorter and eventually impossibly short spots; I’m pretty good extemporaneously, but having three minutes or less to explain a complicated ethics issue based on a surprise question is a near impossible task. Finally she abused me on the air, allowing a Georgetown Law prof pal of hers to both cut me off and misrepresent my position because she thought I was, as she told me later, “defending President Trump.” Mustn’t do that on NPR! Except that was not what I did. I had quite accurately described a phenomenon that the public does not understand relating to celebrity sexual harassment accusations generally, and, in fact, I had offered exactly what Martin knew I was going to be explaining when she invited me on. It was a set-up, and a betrayal: I was aware of her political orientation, but she had misled me into trusting her to be a fair and ethical journalist.
My fault. There are no ethical journalists. Well, some, somewhere, I guess. Sort of like there are some ivory-billed woodpeckers. There’s a sighting now and then.
My whole life’s goal has been to try to stimulate people and to build things that have a valuable purpose. Right now writing the blog just feels like sitting around and complaining, and little else.
That makes me feel impotent, petty, and old.