A New “All-Time Most Outrageous Excuse” Champion! [Link Fixed!]

Fifteen-and-a-half years ago, when Lindsay Lohan was young, vibrant, and in the process of destroying her career, I took to the old Ethics Scoreboard to declare her explanation to the police who had arrested her for driving intoxicated and in possession of cocaine the “most brazen and manifestly ridiculous excuse ever.” The coke had been found in her pants pockets, so Lindsay claimed that they weren’t her pants, launching the TAMP (These Aren’t My Pants) standard for outrageous excuses.

In 2012, the drunken captain who piloted the Costa Concordia cruise ship onto the rocks claimed that he left the capsizing vessel before his passengers because the he “fell into a life boat.” That was close to TAMP, but not quite, I ruled on Ethics Alarms. But the same month, The Smoking Gun reported that in Wisconsin, police responding to a domestic abuse episode that left a Mrs. Michael West bleeding were told by Mr. West (no, not the esteemed Ethics Alarms contributor) that she had been beaten and nearly strangled to death by a ghost. Ethics Alarms ruled that West had taken the crown from Lindsey, who has done little to distinguish herself since.

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From The “Res Ipsa Loquitur” Files: “Fact Check: Chihuahuas Are Dogs, Not Rats.”

USA Today really did print a “fact check” of a gag social media claim that chihuahuas are not dogs but rodents. The article by agriculture and business reporter Laura Peters shows no hint of humor or irony: USA Today treats this as if there is a substantial likelihood that a significant number of its readers might be deceived by the claim that “DNA study finds chihuahuas aren’t dogs …Among other findings the analysis determined that Chihuahua is actually a type of large rodent, selectively bred for centuries to resemble a canine.”

Peters also cites Scopes as an authority, because those fools also did a fact check the last time someone posted this idiocy. “According to Snopes, the claim was just a “bit of satirical fun,” Peters informs us.

What the USA Today article actually informs us about—the headline alone is enough— is the degree to which USA Today has sunk beneath Weekly Reader and World News Daily status. Why would anyone possessing more than two  neurons firing trust anything reported by a rag with editors and reporters who think it is necessary to show that chihuahuas aren’t rats?

There is almost nothing substantive in USA Today’s print editions any more; the thin paper is mostly ads, photos, and local news snippets. With all of the important news being buried or ignored by most of the news media, the once handy Gannett paper could at least fill in some blanks–how about those Cassidy Hutchinson texts? No, what USA Today’s editors think its readers have a right to know is that dogs aren’t rats. Are the editors the morons? Peters? Or do they just think anyone who reads USA Today must be a moron?

On that, they have a point.

Ethics Dunce: Ann Althouse

Bad, bad Ann. I’m very disappointed and surprised. In a post this morning, the usually reliable if eccentric law professor bloggress highlighted the anti-“pit bull” propaganda of DogsBite.org, an Ethics Alarms Unethical Website of the Month, and a vile purveyor of bad information that shares responsibility for the destructive “dangerous breed” laws around the country, discriminatory home-owners insurance rates, and the deaths of thousands and upon thousands of innocent, loving dogs.

Like the execrable website and the incompetent Times article it highlights, Althouse never clarifies the critical fact that there is no such breed as “a pit bull.American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire TerriersStaffordshire Bull Terrier, and any mixture thereof, plus a number of breeds like American Bullys, Corso Canes, Doggo de Argentino, and especially American Bull Dogs are all lumped together as “pit bulls” by ignorant reporters and police, and even veterinarians, making the website’s assertion that a disproportionate number of dog attacks come from that “breed” a statistical whopper. Yet Althouse, whose husband once had a blog dedicated to dog photos and who is a dog-lover herself, just goes along with the deception, and worse for a lawyer, never points out the “evidence” is absurdly flawed. If you combine many breeds into a single “breed,” of course that “breed” will have a disproportionate share of whatever dog incident one is counting.

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Comment Of The Day: On The Passing Of A Beloved Dog

Spuds lobbied hard for this post by Joel Mundt on Friday’s Open Form to be a Comment of the Day, but I didn’t take much persuading. Joel began by wondering if it was sufficiently related to ethics to belong on Ethics Alarms at all, but he needn’t have worried. His story is reminiscent of the experience of a close family member of mine, who relatively late in life discovered the transformative power of unconditional love as only a dog can bestow. It changed her perspective profoundly, making her kinder, more patient, more optimistic and empathetic….and best of all, happier. The experience made ethics alarms surface that had been buried deeply for most of her life.

That’s Bailey, whom you will soon learn about, above. I hope Joel is all right with my publishing the photo, which he kindly sent along when I wondered what a Shar Pei/Whippet would look like. If you are a dog lover and have not already encountered it, I also recommend that you read The Oatmeal’s classic, “My Dog, the Paradox.” It is relevant, and you will see why.

Here is Joel Mundt’s Comment of the Day, his reflections on the passing of Bailey, his dog.

***

This afternoon, we said goodbye to Bailey, our fifteen-year-old Shar Pei/Whippet mix. She was happy, sociable, and a good eater up to the end, but her liver issues (either Cushing’s or cancer or a combination of both) could not be overcome. Her bad liver numbers went up 50% between March ’21 and March ’22, then went up another 50% (and into the red zone) in the ensuing five weeks. So as April ended, we made the difficult decision – if her health and demeanor held – to give her five more weeks.

Bailey was my first pet, and honesty compels me to admit that I did not initially want her. When our son called in April of 2019 and asked if we could take her, my first answer was absolutely not. But some contemplation and prayer changed my mind…well, really, my heart. Had we not taken her, our son would have been left in the untenable position of having to put her down, and we didn’t think it was time. So we drove to Phoenix three weeks later and brought her home. And to say that she has been a joy would be a gross understatement. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Ethics Mega-Dunce Kim Sill

“If your beliefs are not in line with ours, we will not adopt a pet to you.”

—Kim Sill, founder of the Shelter Hope Pet Shop in Thousand Oaks, California in her shop’s weekly newsletter.

Pro tip for Kim: if you are going to say something really stupid and offensive in public, at least do it grammatically.

Other than that, this obnoxious, virtue-signalling Constitutional scholar is informing all that she wants to tear down a crucial support-beam in the entire democratic structure of the United States. While discrimination on the basis of political affiliations and viewpoints is not forbidden under civil rights and public accommodation laws, it is a surefire way to guarantee civil unrest and a society that is divided and miserable in which to live. The pet store’s bigotry—and that’s what it is, bigotry—violates the spirit of the First Amendment and the well-established formula for a fair and open society.

But never mind, Kim knows best.

Here is the rest of her screed: Continue reading

Dolphin Ethics Without Ethics Alarms: Once Again I’m Ashamed Of My Species

Ed Wood was never so profound as in that profound snippet of dialogue from “Plan Nine From Outer Space.”

Last week a female dolphin was washed up on the sand at Quintana Beach County Park in Texas. According to the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which posted about the incident on Facebook, beach-goers discovered the distressed sea mammal and, not having a clue what they were doing, tried to push it back out into the ocean. Then some of the morons attempted to ride the creature, which soon ended up back on the beach. Again stranded, it was harassed by the crowd that had gathered until it expired. By the time rescuers arrived to take care of it, officials said, it was too late. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Ketchup, 4/5/2022: Ten Ethics Tales, And More Are Still On The Shelf!

No ethics warm-up for two straight days leaves me with a big pile of stinking undiscussed and aging issues and events….

1. So much of “in sickness or in health”...Baseball Hall of Fame lock Albert Pujols, recently signed to another multi-million dollar contract to be the St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter, waited a couple of days after his wife Deidre underwent  surgery removing a brain tumor to announce he was divorcing her. “I realize this is not the most opportune time with Opening Day approaching and other family events that have recently taken place. These situations are never easy and isn’t something that just happened overnight,” he wrote in part.  Yeah, I’d put the baseball stuff after the family stuff, Albert. I’m sure this came as no surprise to his wife (at least I hope so), and whatever part of the $344 million he has been paid through the years will definitely help, but especially with five children, letting his wife at least recuperate from a traumatic operation before dumping her would seem to be the more ethical course. Pujols’ reputation is one of being a nice guy; you know, like Will Smith.

2. Watching free speech get “chilled” in real time...at the Grammys—who watches the Grammys?—host Trevor Noah began by promising that the he would be keeping “people’s names out of [his] mouth,” referring to Smith’s shouted demand after he went slap-happy. And he did. Today the New York Times critic approved of Noah not taking “meanspirited swipes.” If Chris Rock’s mild joke about a woman choosing to shave her head for a public appearance is now “mean-spirited,” the Left’s attempt to shut-down all comedy (except meanspirited swipes at men, whites and Republicans, of course, is nearing success.

3. Calling the Humane Society and the ASPCA! Martha Stewart announced that her four dogs killed her cat when they “mistook her for an interloper and killed her defenseless little self.” Did the dogs sign a statement to that effect? Her four dogs constituted a pack, and making a cat try to coexist with a pack of dogs is irresponsible. What really happened, I’s surmise, is that the cat and one of the dogs had what would have normally been a brief altercation, and the pack instinct kicked in for the other three. Continue reading

Welcome To The Weirdest Ethics Quiz Ever: Biden’s New Deputy Assistant Secretary At The Department of Energy

No, I am not making this up, it is not a hoax, and I have verified the facts.

The latest Biden Administration hire is one Sam Brinton, the new Deputy Assistant Secretary of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition in the Office of Nuclear Energy for the Department of Energy. Brinton announced his hiring on LinkedIn, writing that “In this role I’ll be doing what I always dreamed of doing, leading the effort to solve the nation’s nuclear waste challenges” and would “even be (to my knowledge) the first gender fluid person in federal government leadership.” Here’s Sam:

This is also Sam, in his drag queen persona “Sister Ray Dee O’Active.”

Sam says describing “her”: “I am the slutty one. And the nerdy one.” But Sam is more versatile still. That’s him on the left in the photo under the headline acting as a “handler” in the leather culture sub-set called “Puppy Play.” Handlers help human “puppies” like this good boy…

… behave like dogs while being treated as dogs, including, as far as I can determine, having sex while “being” a dog. Continue reading

P.M. Ethics Dispatches, 1/11/2022

We have to keep baseball ethics alive even if baseball itself is in a state of suspension: the owner and players are, for the first time in decades, arguing about how to divide up their billions, everything from roster size to minimum salaries are on the table, and as of now, the two sides aren’t even talking with the season just a couple of months away. One of the issues to be settled is whether the National League will finally capitulate and adopt the designated hitter rule, which was accepted in the American League on this date in 1973, a day which many traditionalist fans then and now regard as an unforgivable scar on the integrity of the game. Baseball has always been celebrated for its equity and balance: as it was envisioned, every player on the field had to both hit and play defense. The DH, which is a batter who never uses a glove, also allowed the pitcher to be a defense-only specialist, never picking up a bat which, advocates of the new rule argued, was a result much to be wished, since the vast majority of hurlers are only slightly better at hitting the ball than your fat old uncle Curt who played semi-pro ball in his twenties. All these decades years later, the National League and its fans have stubbornly maintained that the DH was a vile, utilitarian gimmick spurred by non-ethical considerations, mainly greed. When the rule was adopted, American League attendance lagged behind the NL, which also was winning most of the All Star games, in part because that league had embraced black stars far more rapidly than “the junior league.” The DH, the theory went, would make games more exciting, with more offense, while eliminating all the .168 batters in the ninth spot in every line-up.

I had a letter published in Sports Illustrated in 1973 explaining why I opposed the DH as a Boston Red Sox fan. Since then, I have grudgingly come to accept the benefits of the rule: it gave the Sox David Ortiz, allowed Carl Yastrzemski to play a few more years, and let American League fans see such all-time greats as Hank Aaron at the plate after they could no longer play the field. It was a breach of the game’s integrity, but it worked.

1. At least that’s fixed. The Supreme Court issued a corrected transcript of the oral arguments in the Biden vaccine mandate case, and it now accurately records Justice Gorsuch as saying he believes the seasonal flu kills “hundreds…thousands of people every year.” The original version wrongly quoted him as saying hundreds of thousands, which allowed those desperately trying to defend the outrageously wrong assertions by Justice Sotomayor regarding the Wuhan virus to point to Gorsuch and claim, “See? Conservatives are just as bad!” Prime among these was the steadily deteriorating Elie Mystal at “The Nation,” who, typically for him, refused to accept the correction. Sotomayor is one of the all-time worst Supreme Court justices, though she will be valuable as a constant reminder of the perils of affirmative action. Her jurisprudence makes the much maligned Clarence Thomas look like Louis Brandeis by comparison. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, Remember January 6 Edition…

Well, we all know by now why this date is important: On January 6, 1838, Samuel Morse’s telegraph system was demonstrated for the first time at the Speedwell Iron Works in Morristown, New Jersey. Morse’s invention revolutionized long-distance communication, and also was a catalyst for other important inventions. In ethics history, January 6, 1994 marked the nadir of bad sportsmanship in U.S. sports.

Skater Tonya Harding conspired with her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, to eliminate rival skater Nancy Kerrigan from the competition for the U.S. ice skating championship. Through contacts, Gillooly persuaded  Shane Stant to injure Kerrigan for a fee. Stant stalked to Massachusetts and Detroit, where he hit the skater in the leg with a club and fled. Kerrigan was unable to skate, so Harding won the championship and a place at on the 1994 Olympics women’s skating team. Then the plot fell apart, and the FBI got the whole story from Stant. Gillooly was charged with conspiracy to assault Kerrigan, and made a deal in which he implicated Harding. She claimed she had learned of Gillooly’s role in the attack after the U.S. championships but did not inform authorities. It took a lawsuit to stop the United States Olympic Committee from removing Harding from the team, but Tonya choked and finished 8th, and Kerrigan won a silver medal. Eventually Harding pleaded guilty to conspiracy to hinder the prosecution of Kerrigan’s attackers, but her role in initiating the plot was never proved. Gillooly, a real prince of a guy, cashed in by selling graphic photos of the couple having sex to tabloids. There’s more seedy stuff to this story, but that’s enough.

Yecchh.

1. I see the Pope has nothing better to do than to attack dog and cat owners as being “selfish” for preferring to have pets to bestow their love on than children. Having children is indeed a generous act, provided it is done intentionally and responsibly by people with the sense, resources and values to discharge that immense challenge ethically. I know quite a few childless pet owners who seem to have concluded that a dog or cat was all they could handle, and in mots of these cases, I’d say they made the right call. I also know some families with kids that I wouldn’t trust to care for a kitten. Or a guppy.

During a general audience at the Vatican, Pope Francis said,

“Today … we see a form of selfishness. We see that some people do not want to have a child. Sometimes they have one, and that’s it, but they have dogs and cats that take the place of children. This may make people laugh but it is a reality…a denial of fatherhood and motherhood and diminishes us, takes away our humanity… civilization grows old without humanity because we lose the richness of fatherhood and motherhood, and it is the country that suffers…Having a child is always a risk, but there is more risk in not having a child.”

If there is one thing a Pope, a bishop or a Catholic priest isn’t qualified to talk about, it is having children. Pius XII had a pet goldfinch though, and Pope Leo XIII kept a herd of gazelles, among other animals.

2. Regarding that other Jan.6 event…as part of its Capitol riot spin today, the Times enlisted Linda Qiu, a former “fact-checker” for PolitiFact, the infamously left-biased fact-checking service of the Tampa Bay Times, to debunk “falsehoods” regarding the attack. She performed as expected. Trump said on Fox News that there were “no guns” carried by the mob. There have been three gun charges brought against rioters, Qiu says. She also says that “over 75 defendants have been charged with entering a restricted area with a dangerous or deadly weapon,” meaning clubs, sticks and bear spray, none of which relates to Trump’s gun claim. She also calls a “falsehood” the statement that there were no fatalities during the riot except for Ashlii Babbitt, the unarmed rioter who was shot by a Capitol police officers. Seven fatalities were “tied” to the assault, she says. What does “tied” mean?  Other than Babbitt, two protesters died of heart attacks, one of an accidental overdose, Officer Sicknick died of multiple strokes a day after the attack (and was falsely reported by the times as dying from injuries sustained in the riot, a falsehood repeated multiple times by President Biden). Two other officers killed themselves in the days after the riot, which does not establish causation or a provable “tie,” and two other officers died by suicide six months later.

I’d say “no fatalities” other than the unarmed rioter is accurate. Continue reading