It Shouldn’t Require A “Theocracy” to Decide THIS Lawsuit Correctly

The Capitol Hill Baptist Church in the District of Columbia, is suing Mayor Muriel Bowser and the District government for violating its First Amendment right to worship.

Good.

“CHBC desires to gather for a physical, corporate gathering of believers in the District of Columbia on Sunday, September 27, 2020, and on subsequent Sundays, and would do so but for those actions of the Defendants that are the subject of this Complaint,” the lawsuit charges. It seems pretty clear that Bowser is applying one set of rules against religious institutions and another set of piorities entirely when it comes to activities she cares about. In March, Bowser (Is she the most unethical big city mayor in the U.S.? She’s certainly in the running, but it’s a tough field) issued an executive order prohibiting churches from meeting indoors, or out because of public health concers, pandemic. D.C.’s  four-stage plan, would bar in-person worship gatherings until there is an “effective cure or vaccine” for the Wuhan virus, a rule that can be counted on to wound, perhaps mortally, church communities that have been built up over many decades. Right now gatherings are supposedly limited to 100 people or up to 50 percent of the building’s capacity, whichever is fewer. The 850-member Capitol Hill Baptist Church  has been meeting in a field in Virginia.

The 142-year-old congregation explains in its suit that “a weekly in-person worship gathering of the entire congregation is a religious conviction for which there is no substitute. The Church does not offer virtual worship services, it does not utilize a multi-site model, and it does not offer multiple Sunday morning worship services.”

The church’s covenant, to which all members must agree, pledges that they “will not forsake the assembling of [them]selves together,” as decreed in the Bible.  The church’s website explains,

“Since its founding in 1878, CHBC has met in-person every Sunday except for three weeks during the Spanish Flu in 1918. That changed following Mayor Bowser’s first orders concerning COVID-19 on March 11, 2020. Since that time, the members of CHBC—most of whom live in the District—have been unable to meet in person, as one congregation inside District limits (even outdoors)….CHBC has applied for multiple waivers to the policy. District officials refuse to provide CHBC with a waiver beyond 100 persons as part of a mass gathering…A church is not a building that can be opened and closed. A church is not an event to be watched. A church is a community that gathers regularly and that community should be treated fairly by the District government.”

Fairly? On June 10, the church asked for a waiver so the congregation could meet at currently abandoned RFK Stadium, which is large enough to permit social distancing. The mayor’s office didn’t respond to the request and subsequent appeals until September 15, and then issued a rejection stating that “[w]aivers for places of worship above that expanded capacity (100 attendees) are not being granted at this time.” Continue reading

Dan Rather, Ethics Villain; Esquire, Ethics Villain Enabler

My, this is ironic! In an essay defending journalism while attacking President Trump for labeling current day journalists as “enemies of the people,” Esquire writer Ryan D’Agostino both manages to prove Trump correct, and while lionizing disgraced journalist Dan Rather,  inspires Rather to show how he exemplifies what’s rotten within his profession.

“In a wide-ranging interview,” the essay/interview ‘s description says, “the legendary reporter gives a clinic on journalism, its intersection with politics, civil rights, and the future of American culture.” This alone would normally keep me from reading such a piece, were it not part of my job to expose unethical mind rot. Rather is a legend, as the cliche goes, in his own mind. Having him give a clinic on journalism would be like  Sweeney Todd giving a clinic on barbering, and no one should care what he says or thinks about anything, having proven himself to be untrustworthy and afflicted with warped reasoning.

Here, for example, is Rather’s description of the fake news scandal that cost him his reputation and career. Well, let me take that back: first read part of D’Agostino’s self-indicting introduction of it:

There were proven technical and even journalistic flaws in the evidence Rather’s team found—but no one questioned the truth of what they were saying. Bush never disputed the veracity of the claims. It was a strange situation: By way of a possibly forged document, they had uncovered a damning truth about the sitting president.

Wow.

  • Equivocation and deceptive verbiage: “Proven technical and even journalistic flaws in the evidence Rather’s team found.” The “technical flaw” was that the only tangible evidence Rather found was a forgery, and the journalistic “flaw” was that Rather’s report was built on a lie, which is what a forged document is.

That’s not “flawed” journalism; it’s a political attack disguised as journalism. Continue reading

Comment(s) Of The Day: On Daily Life Confrontations

I’m finally getting to the task of deciding which of the many qualified Comment of the Day candidates languishing while I sort them out. So put on my Sorting Hat, and ended up with another Comment of the Day hybrid, a collaboration between Kyjo and veteran commenter Tim Levier that occurred during the last Open Forum.

Here it is, beginning with Kyjo’s Supermarket Adventure:

A couple months ago now, I was in the midst of moving. The night before moving day, in the midst of packing and sorting through items left behind by an irresponsible freeloading roommate, I made a quick run to the supermarket to buy some bottled water for the movers and one other small item I don’t recall. I took a 24-pack of bottled water from the shelf, along with the other item, carrying them in my arms without using a cart. I went to the express lane, where there were two men ahead of me. The first one was pulling out coupons for what seemed like each individual item, so it took awhile, and of course I had to maintain my social distance. The checker started scanning the items for the second man, but because I had to remain 6 feet back, I couldn’t set my items on the belt behind his, so I was starting to get a little fatigued holding the pack of bottled water. At this time, an older lady came up behind me with a small cart load of items. “Excuse me, I was next in line,” she said. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/26/2020: Having Flashbacks To When Saturdays Were Fun

That’s the late, great, Vito Scotti as “Pasta.” He played Italians in drama, comedies, stage plays, movies and TV shows, but he also played Mexicans and other ethicities  when required.  Was he in “The Godfather”? Of course he was. “Columbo”? Sure. Did he drop in on “Gilligan’s Island,” “I Love Lucy,” and “The Addams Family.” Absolutely. He was on “Batman” twice as one of The Penguin’s henchmen.

And he really was a professional caliber chef. “Andy’s Gang,” meanwhile, was completely chaotic, just as kids like it. No educational value, no political indoctrination, just lots of running jokes and nonsense.

Sublime.

I had a rubber “Froggie the Gremlin” bath toy. “Twang your magic twanger” was a catch phrase for years after “Andy’s Gang” went of the air.

1. Professional incompetence. One almost certain casualty of the lock-down will be live theater, in part because the people who run it, on average, just aren’t very smart. I have been reading about how New York theaters are or will be streaming plays. Morons.

Theater that isn’t shown in a  theater with people sharing the experience isn’t theater, it’s crude TV. The problem has always been to get people into a  theater to experience what is so dynamic and unique about a live performance. If the theater community promotes video versions of theatrical performances as a viable substitute, and that’s exactly what it’s doing, they have surrendered.

Well, at least we’ve probably seen the end of $500 Broadway tickets.

2. Maybe they’ll appreciate Citizens United now. Showtime is featuring an anti-Trump screed disguised as a movie called “The Comey Rule.” I wonder if those who, like all the Democratic candidates for President during the primaries that played to the crowd by promising to get the Citizens United case reversed (as if they could), understand its significance. They condemned the SCOTUS ruling upholding the First Amendment, and  Showtime’s bit of campaign agitprop is exactly what the overturned campaign contribution law would have allowed the government to ban.

Since the film at the center of the original case, however, was a conservative attack on Hilary Clinton, Democrats were (are?) all for censorship. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Bryant Johnson.

Incredible.

I’m not sure which is more nauseating: that the late Justice’s personal trainer would be so crass, or that the mainstream news media would unanimously describe Bryant Johnson’s self-promoting stunt as “honoring” Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He should have been ejected from the Rotunda. If someone had tried that at my fathers funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, I would have thrown him out myself.

I’m surprised Johnson didn’t hand out his business cards to onlookers.

Try doing push-ups at the Alamo, or at Westminster Abbey. If Ginsburg’s personal chef had used his 20 seconds of national exposure to make an omelette in front of the late Justice’s casket, would the news media be applauding that too?

Oh, probably, if the chef were black. To do otherwise would be condemned as racist, as we know. George Floyd, you know. Being immune from accountability is now one of the ways being black matters.

Johnson joins the increasingly competitive Ethics Alarms race to be 2020 Jerk of the Year.

Ethics Dunce: “Streiff”

William B. Crews, an official at the National Institutes of Health, announced his retirement  this week after he was outed as surreptitiously attacking the NIH and particularly Dr. Anthony Fauci  in  posts on Twitter and on the right-wing website RedState using the screen name “Streiff.”

Crews worked for and promoted the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases while simultaneously undermining  the agency’s work with his posts since March. His deception and betrayal was exposed by The Daily Beast.

A representative comment Crews wrote on RedState in June read, “We’re at the point where it is safe to say that the entire Wuhan virus scare was nothing more or less than a massive fraud perpetrated upon the American people by ‘experts’ who were determined to fundamentally change the way the country lives and is organized and governed.”

This is a perfect Ethics Dunce performance, because what Crews did was both unethical and dumb. Screen names tend to get discovered, and something like this is a career-breaker. It’s also a cowardly and ineffective way to make an impact, if the objective is to actually accomplish something. Secret whistle blowing only works these days if your objective is to take down the President.

The ethical way to have an effect on policy and public opinion is to make objections like “Streiff’s” public and under one’s real name. It also helps if you can prove your claims. Continue reading

From The “Life Competence” Files: Death By Licorice

The current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine describes the odd case of  a middle-aged construction worker who died from eating one or two large bags of black licorice daily over a three week period. A naturally occurring compound, glycyrrhizic acid, found in black licorice can have adverse health effects if you gorge on it: in 2017, the FDA warned on its website, “If you’re 40 or older, eating 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could land you in the hospital with an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia.” If you have muscle weakness or an irregular heartbeat, you should stop eating it and call your doctor, who should also advise you possible  about interactions it may have with your other medications.

The construction worker’s sudden addiction to the candy  caused his heart to stop, and he collapsed at mid-day at a fast-food restaurant. Emergency responders performed  CPR and revived him,  but he died the next day. Dr. Neel Butala, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who was one of the authors of the case study, pronounced the lesson of the episode:

“The key message here for the general public is that food containing licorice can potentially be hazardous to your health if eaten in large quantities. I don’t think people realize it. It’s not labeled that way.”

It shouldn’t have to be labelled, should it? What isn’t potentially deadly in asbsurdly large quantities? Water can kill you. Of course candy can kill you. It’s interesting to know why, and that  licorice root extract can cause dangerously low potassium and imbalances in bodily electrolytes, but honestly: who wouldn’t do a little checking if they suddenly started eating huge amounts of something that normal people only consume occasionally, if at all? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/25/2020: “Snap Out Of It!”

This is applicable to so many aspects of today I don’t have space to list them. Prime among them are the apparent re-runs of the George Floyd riots in various cities, this time tied to the death of Breonna Taylor and the fact that the cops who didn’t murder her weren’t charged with murder.  Hmmm…are these more stupid than the St. George riots, less stupid, or exactly as stupid?

1. I wonder…has the NFL killed more innocent black men than police over the years? Gale Sayers, the legendary Chicago Bears running back, died this week from “complications of dementia,” almost certainly meaning he was another victim of CTE suffered from playing what a friend calls “Concussionball.”

Well, as much as NFL fans might resent having players pollute entertainment with half-baked politicsal grandstanding, you can bet they would rather watch meaningless kneeling during the “Star-Spangled Banner” than forfeit the fun of watching human beings destroy their brains for cash.

2. This guy isn’t helping...Officer John Goulart, Jr., reported that at a shopping center in Pineville, La, Goulart was shot once in the leg and anotherbullet hit the back door of his patrol car. However, investigators determined that Goulart  fired those shots, including the one that hit him in the leg,  himself.  Now he’s under arrest. [Pointer: valkygrrl] Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Month: CNN’s Don Lemon”

I have so many Comment of the Day-worthy posts to choose from right now that  I could throw darts at the comments list to pick one and hardly go wrong. (Of course, that would be bad for my computer screen).  I decided that I wanted to see if I could get some perspective from Louisville, Ky., where my father grew up, while the Breonna Taylor Freakout is in full, embarrassing bloom. Luckily, I knew I had Glenn Logan as a resource.

The post Glenn was commenting on wasn’t even about the Breonna Taylor grand jury decision, but rather Don Lemon’s evident ignorance about how the government works. Ignorance, however, is the common theme. The George Floyd Freakout was and is a fraud, because the protests were about racism when the episode didn’t involve racism, and about “routine” police brutality when the brutality was sui generis rather than routine and, we now know, was probably not even the cause of Mr. Floyd’s (Or Saint Floyd’s, as BLM would have it) death. By the time Floyd died, Taylor’s unfortunate death was already part of the protesters’ mantra, just as other factually irrelevant episodes have been for years, like the demise of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin.

There’s a reason Black Lives Matter is really Facts Don’t Matter. If the United States had a less despicable opposition party and a barely responsible journalism profession, making certain the public understood little details like what constitutes a murder, what causation is, and—back to Dumb Don again— how the Constitution gets amended would be a prime directive.

I admit to being a bit obsessed with the rioting and grandstanding around the Taylor grand jury decision, because it is so indefensible on any logical basis, yet so many are so self-righteous about it, and so many assholes are showing their true colors.  How  warped do human beings have to be to threaten and harass diners in St. Petersburg over an incident in Louisville that they don’t comprehend?

And why don’t leaders of the Democratic Party condemn such mindless thuggery? Well, that’s a stupid question: we know why.

Ugh. Don’t get me started.

And if you are wondering why I started writing this at 5 am, it’s because my now healthy, lovable rescue dog is still so insecure that he has to sleep slammed up against me  like a hot, furry incubus, and I couldn’t bear to kick him off the bed, but couldn’t sleep either.

Here is Glenn Logan’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Unethical Quote Of The Month: CNN’s Don Lemon”:

Jack wrote:

“He clearly doesn’t understand how amendments actually get passed, and why this particular amendment will never, never be passed.”

Agreed. Actually, I doubt if he knows or cares how many hoops amendments have to jump through to become part of the Constitution. If he did, he wouldn’t have been so cavalier about his comment.

“It is also incompetent, irresponsible, nonprofessional, reckless and a breach of duty for CNN to allow someone who couldn’t pass junior high civics to pretend to be able to analyze the nation’s political scene.”

Heh. You could make that charge at virtually every TV or cable news outlet in America, and 98% of its newspapers. Which tells you that most of the public, who snoozed through civics and government classes in high school, don’t know anything about how the Constitution is amended, or if they did, have been convinced of some alternate reality. This lazy, feckless disinterest is the root cause of many of our current problems.

“Lemon has been immune from accountability because he is black and gay.”

Very nearly the trifecta. Continue reading

Shameless Clickbait Or Frightening Evidence Of Late Stage Trump Derangement…Or Both?

The post is The Death Of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Pushed Me To Join The Satanic Temple.” Once upon a time headlines like this were cause for mirth when they appeared in the old National Enquirer or the World Weekly News. I think the best headline I ever saw—yes, even better than “Headless Corpse Found In Topless Bar“— was “Boy, 6, Gives Birth to Sextuplets.”

Still, this one is pretty special. The author says she is a lawyer, and she is clearly a lunatic, yet not that far removed from about half of my Facebook friends. Here are some of her statements…

 I am not the type of person who would normally consider becoming a Satanist, but these are not normal times. 

Rationalization #28, The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times.”! And the reason these are not normal times is because of hysterics like her…

Continue reading