Category Archives: Character

Women’s March Ethics: Now THAT’S Ad Hominem!

ashley-judd

Ashley Judd, indulging her inner Trump.

I often have to correct commenters on Ethics Alarms who accuse me of engaging in the argument fallacy of ad hominem after I pronounced them jerks, fools, or idiots based on their comments. (I shouldn’t do that, but sometimes I can’t help myself, and if it stops me from going crazy from all the stuff I have to  read every day to decide what gets published, we all benefit. well, I do, at least.) No, I explain, with more or less patience, that’s not ad hominem. It would be ad hominem if I wrote, “Your argument can be safely ignored because you are an idiot.” Then I would be using an author’s presumed character, intelligence or acumen to discredit his or her opinion. That’s unfair and illogical. An argument derives its value and persuasiveness from its contents, not its messenger. It would also be an ad hominem attack if I responded to a comment with a stream of vile insults.

If, however, I read a comment, determine it to be based on bad facts, bias, poor reasoning and faulty logic, I may justly conclude that only a dolt would express such an opinion in public, and say so, as in, “You are a dolt.” That is a diagnosis—an insulting one, to be sure, but still just a diagnosis.

Now, thanks to actress Ashley Judd’s performance today at the Washington, D.C. version of “The Women’s March,” I can use her as an illustration of what an ad hominem attack is, and why it should be avoided.

Judd read a poem by an angry 19-year-old, that contained the lines..

“I am a nasty women.’I’m not as nasty as a man who looks like he bathes in Cheeto dust…I’m not as nasty as your own daughter being your favorite sex symbol, your wet dreams infused with your own genes…”

Stay classy, Ashley.

You see, mocking someone’s appearance—it is a cardinal sin if it is a woman’s appearance that is being mocked, of course, adding hypocrisy to the mix—is pure, unadulterated ad hominem. It is also gratuitous meanness that has no communication value other than to say, “I hate you.” “I hate you” is not an argument. In fact, “I hate you” is a statement of bias. I can’t trust the assessment of an individual regarding what another individual says or believes if the critical individual hates him.

Additionally, the denigration is pure tit for tat, Rationalization 7.  That’s Donald Trump’s favorite rationalization. Stooping to Trump’s favorite method of debate, name-calling, isn’t persuasive or helpful. I’m sure it feels good, though. I guess that’s enough for Ashley and all the protesting women who clapped and cheered.

Morons.

See, now that isn’t ad hominem, because by behaving like this, Judd undermines the whole protest. And that’s just plain stupid. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Rights

Update: Astoundingly Unethical Lawyer-Hypnotist In Prison, And Disbarred.

Good.

Fine on the way to prison, where he will be hypnotized and will spend his 12-year sentence thinking he's a chicken...

Fine on the way to prison, where he will be hypnotized and will spend his 12-year sentence thinking he’s a chicken…

I hadn’t followed the story of Michael Fine since I wrote about him in 2014. This was the Sheffield, Ohio lawyer who hypnotized female clients so he could sexually molest them. When I wrote the post, two victims had been identified. The final tally was six, and there may have been more.

In September of 2015, Fine pleaded guilty to five counts of kidnapping and one count of attempted kidnapping.  He admitted to using his skill in  hypnosis to control the female clients, forcing them submit his sexual desires against their conscious will. Last week, Fine was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He had already been permanently disbarred by the Ohio Bar. Fine was not a licensed hypnotist, but needless to say, he was an unethical hypnotist too.

Judge Patricia Cosgrove told Fine at his sentencing, “At the lowest point in their lives when they came to you for help in the throes of painful divorces and custody battles, you took advantage of them. You took advantage of their trust and faith in you by sexually abusing them. You deserve to be punished.”

Ya think?

When I mentioned this case in some 2015 legal ethics seminars, many lawyers refused to believe it. I even lost a law firm client because one lawyer complained that I showed insensitivity by making a mild joke about the story, which did and does remind me of something out of a bad Adam Sandler movie.  It is the strangest example of unethical lawyering I have encountered, but I am confident that a stranger one will appear eventually.

________________________

Pointer: Fred

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Filed under Character, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

Ethics Hero: Hillary Clinton

hillary-inauguration

The criteria for an Ethics Hero honor here includes doing the ethical thing despite significant countervailing non-ethical considerations, and often at some personal sacrifice. It was Bill Clinton’s duty to be present at Donald Trump’s Inauguration yesterday, but not Hillary’s.  While defeated Presidential candidates usually attend, they sometimes don’t, especially when they feel  particularly aggrieved byt the way the successful campaigns against them were handled. Recent inauguration no-shows include Mitt Romney and Michael Dukakis, both of whom felt, with some justification, that they had been ill-treated on their way to defeat.  Four Presidents didn’t even attend the swearing in of their successors: John Adams (bitter), John Quincy Adams (bitter, and Andrew Jackson hadn’t attended his inauguration, so there!) Andrew Johnson (impeached), and Richard Nixon (persona non grata).

Nobody, especially her supporters, would have blamed Mrs. Clinton if she had passed. However, it was important that she be there, as her presence symbolized acceptance of the result and the orderly transfer of power as much as Barack Obama’s presence did. She came, she was seen, and it was the right thing to do.

It could not have been easy or pleasant. Some in the audience were heard to chant “Lock her up!” when her name was announced. (See: “A Nation of Assholes”) Bill may have embarrassed her by being caught on video seeming to ogle Ivanka Trump. (I wrote a satirical song about Clinton ogling Julie Eisenhower at Nixon’s funeral in 1994, but that was a joke. Good old Bill. ) Jerkish journalists pestered Hillary with the predictable and needless questions: “Madame Secretary, how does it feel to be here today?” and  “How are you feeling, Madame Secretary?” Ann Althouse made me laugh out loud with her comment:

What’s she supposed to say? I’ll say it for her: How the fuck do you think it feels?

 

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media

Inauguration Day Ethics Scorecard

trump-swearing-in

They did not. Which party is the civil party?

  • If only it could be a harbinger…Nah. For all the network’s transgressions during the campaign and after, CNN’s coverage throughout the day has been remarkably upbeat, factual, and fair.

The sourest note in the media commentary that I caught was on Fox News, where Juan Williams pronounced Trump’s speech as the likely work of advisor Steve Bannon and described it as far from unifying. I have to wonder about anyone who would listen to that speech and call it divisive, but I’m sure Williams will have company. The speech sure sounded like 100% Trump to me.

  • The Address.  It is refreshing to hear a major political speech from a President that isn’t full of soaring language that obviously is a speechwriter’s creation. I was initially dubious of Trump’s reported decision to write his own Inaugural address, but now that I have heard it, I realize that a President who presented himself to voters as unfiltered and genuine had no other choice, lest he appear false and hypocritical. The speech wasn’t eloquent, but it was, as CNN commentators said, historic. Trump didn’t use “I” but “we.” The speech was non-partisan, equally indicting both parties. One could imagine Bernie Sanders giving the same speech with few changes. The pledges Trump made will be hard to keep: If he knows that, then he was courageous to make them.

If he doesn’t know it, he is frightening naive. We shall see.

  • Praise is due to Senator Roy Blunt for producing a tight, professional event that every American can be proud of. He did this despite the despicable efforts of the show business community and others to discourage and intimidate talent so that the Inauguration and related events would not be worthy of nation. They failed, he succeeded. Thank-you, Senator.

Like so much of the bitter, nasty, un-American conduct of beaten Hillary supporters, the efforts to harm the event only harmed Trump’s opposition, and alienated everyone else.

  • Ethics Hero: 16-year-old Jackie Evancho, who gave a heartfelt rendition of the National Anthem after a month of  social media abuse and death threats. She sang in a slightly immature but lovely soprano, and unlike Beyoncé four years ago, actually used her own voice, eschewing lip-syncing. At its launching, at least, the Trump Presidency didn’t begin with deception. A young teen tackled a difficult composition under challenging conditions, and pulled it off without resorting to fakery, like the superstar who had the job before her.

Perfect. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Leadership, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Ethics Observations On The 2017 Hall Of Fame Vote

815-baseball-hall-of-fame-c

Baseball’s Hall of Fame votes were announced yesterday, and is often the case, the ethical issues raised were as interesting as the choices. The Baseball Writers Association Of America chooses who is to be enshrined; successful candidates must be on 75% of all ballots submitted, and have ten years of edibility after the initial 5 year waiting period expires.

Here were the vote totals of the players receiving significant support; the years each player has been on the ballot is the last number.

Jeff Bagwell 381 (86.2%)  (7)

Tim Raines 380 (86.0%) (10)

Ivan Rodriguez 336 (76.0%) (1)

Trevor Hoffman 327 (74.0%) (2)

Vladimir Guerrero 317 (71.7%) (1)

Edgar Martinez 259 (58.6%) (8)

Roger Clemens 239 (54.1%) (5)

Barry Bonds 238 (53.8%) (5)

Mike Mussina 229 (51.8%) (4)

Curt Schilling 199 (45.0%) (5)

Manny Ramirez 105 (23.8%) (1)

Bagwell, Raines and Rodriguez were elected. Hoffman, the all-time leader in relief pitcher saves, just missed, and will almost certainly get into the Hall next year.

Ethics Observations:

1. More than anything, it is discouraging to see Barry Bonds crossing the 50% threshold. Bonds cheated, took the integrity out of some of baseball’s most important records, has lied about it to this day, and corrupted the game. Of course he is disqualified by the character requirements for entrance to the Hall. Bond’s vote total rise is attributed to several factors, including the old, unethical rationalizations we have been reading in defense of Bonds since he was playing. The latest excuses include the influx of younger voters who never saw Bonds nor witnessed the grotesquely inflated mutant he turned himself into, more voters throwing up their hands in frustration over the problem of sifting through so many players whose PED use is rumored, likely, or insufficiently proven, and voters who find the Hall’s recent election of former commissioner Bud Selig hypocritical, since he contrived ignorance to allow Bonds and others break the rules as long as possible. None of those excuses and rationalizations justify a single vote for Bonds.

2. Ivan Rodriquez‘s election also probably helped Bonds. He was one of the greatest catchers of all time, quite possibly the greatest defensive catcher, but in Jose Canseco’s first baseball and steroid tell-all book, “Juiced,” the steroidal slugger wrote of personally injecting I-Rod with the stuff while they were Texas Rangers. The catcher never tested positive in a drug test, but Canseco’s accusation was credible, especially after Rodriquez magically gained about 25 pound of muscle and started hitting home runs. Unlike Bonds, however, the evidence against him was slim.  Jose, for example, is one of the great slime-balls in sports history. He may not be a liar, but since he admittedly wrote hisbook out of spite, he might be.

3. Ivan, in turn, was helped by the election of Jeff Bagwell. No player ever pinned steroid use on him, but Bagwell was judged a steroid-user by many because he became so muscular after starting out as a normally-built third baseman. Bagwell lifted weighs like a fiend, and clearly had a Hall of Fame level career, so keeping him out purely on suspicion seemed unfair, and was. His election slipped down the slope to boost Rodriquez, though, which in turn allowed some writers to rationalize voting for Bonds (and Roger Clemens, not as clearly guilty as Bonds, more seriously implicated than Rodriguez). Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Journalism & Media, Sports

Fake News Alert: No, Rep. John Lewis Is Still Boycotting The Inauguration

The earlier post to the contrary here was mistaken. Misconstrued source, confirmation bias, visual rather than online confirmation, and several other factors, but it is entirely my fault. I even saw a reference to the story on Facebook, and now I think its reference might have been me.

I’m not sure whether this means Rep. Lewis is better or worse, but Ethics Alarms apologizes to all.

My head did explode, though.

I took the post down. Now I’m Emily Litella. How ironic.

emily-litella-never-mind

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Facebook, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, The Internet

Ethics Dunces Update: 59 And Counting Democratic Members Of Congress Boycotting The 45th President’s Inauguration

democrats-boycott-trump

The epic hypocrisy continues.

Last October, the Democratic Party furiously insisted that it was dangerous and undemocratic for Donald J. Trump to suggest that he might not accept the results of the 2016 election. Today, while their leaders stand mute, a large, prominents and vocal segment of that party and its leadership is refusing to accept the results of the 2016 election.

The #1 task fasing Donald Trump, say his critics (and his supporters too), is to heal the divisions and rifts in the nation. His foes (I’m a critic, not a foe) say that he is the primary cause of those divisions and rifts. (Of course, the primary cause has been the intentionally divisive Presidency of Barack Obama.) Now 59 members of Congress, all Democrats (it may be over 60 by the time I write this), have intentionally signaled to their constituents that they want and intend the division to continue, and indeed to worsen. They are leading their constituents to oppose and reject the government of the United States. They are rejecting their duty as representatives of that government, showing disrespect to the citizens who chose its leadership, encouraging civil discord and risking violence.

Their conduct is exactly like a citizens group holding a protest demanding that the government extinguish fires burning out of control around a town, then marching to each conflagration and tossing gasoline on it.

Piers Morgan, of all people, a British citizen and tabloid journalist who was sharply anti-Republican and anti- conservative in his unsuccessful run as the successor to talk show host Larry King on CNN, demonstrated that even he has a firmer grasp on this nation’s ideals and traditions than many Democrats, writing in part, Continue reading

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