Unethical Quote Of The Week: PBS Commentator Mark Shields…Or Is It This Unethical Tweet By CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin?

The “resistance’s” freakout over the Mueller report is deep, wide and epic. So many journalists, pundits, celebrities and Democrats are making utter asses of themselves by  throwing  public tantrums, uttering or writing emotional nonsense, and making claims that just aren’t true, and obviously so, except to those in the grip of the Orange Man Bad Fever.

Yesterday gave us two throbbing examples.

#1.

Here’s long-time PBS commentator Mark Shields, in a panel discussion about the Mueller report. I’ve met Mark, and used to listen to him regularly. He’s a nice guy, a Red Sox fan, and the kind of old-style Boston liberal–Ted Kennedy, Tip O’Neill, Kevin White, Ray Flynn—that I grew up surrounded by. But this is hysteria:

“[I]f there’s an imperative that comes out of this whole sordid tale, it’s for a new 9/11 Commission…to investigate what happened. How do we avoid it ever happening again? What do we need to do, statutorily, collectively in the country? And the Russians did — they subverted and sabotaged our election. And the Obama administration was remiss in its response in 2016. And President Trump has chosen for two-and-a-half years to deny what Russia did. And the most public of sacraments that we have as a people, a presidential election, was subverted and sabotaged. And they’re about the same evil mission again with no — we ought to have that. It ought to be bipartisan. It ought to be Republicans and Democrats. And we ought to just demand that American elections be only — involve Americans. And it has to bring in all of the Silicon Valley and all the companies, and we have to do this to preserve our democracy and to restore some sense of public trust.”

Shield’s outburst  has to be categorized as clinical, indeed pathological denial, but a helpful variety, since it provides a window in the mid of the deranged, kind of like the hole in a Canadian trapper’s gut that allowed Dr. Beaumont to study the workings of the human stomach.  You can see that the problem hearkens back to November 2016. Amazingly, Democrats still cannot accept that they lost the Presidency to someone like Donald Trump. It has driven them literally crazy. Imagine: Mark Shields, who was once as sane as you or I, is really arguing that after a two and a half year, 20 million dollar investigation of Russian interference in the election, what we really need now is…an investigation of the election. No, we really don’t, and Shield’s ridiculous comparison of the piddling Russian disinformation campaign designed to confuse and confound American morons and sow discord (though that objective has been advanced far more effectively by the news media and the “resistance”) with a terrorist attack that killed more than 3000 Americans in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania shows how conspiratorial and, to be blunt, whacked-out the Left has become. Continue reading

Now THIS Is An Unethical Pastor! Also An Idiot. Also…ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

As I go through life, I find myself having increasing difficulty distinguishing organized religions from cults. I know what Ben Franklin would say: “cult” is always used in the third person, as in “their cult.” I also have a difficult time of late distinguishing cults from religions. Isn’t climate change activism a religion now? How about hating President Trump? Socialism has always been a cult. Cults install One Great Truth as a substitute for critical thought and the ongoing process of self-education and accumulated wisdom. They also can drive people mad.

Take, for example, this story….

Jaddeus Dempsey, the associate pastor at Impact City Church in Pataskala, Ohio, asked the kids attending his after-school youth program to spit in his face,  slap him in the face, and finally to cut him on the back with a kitchen knife. He explained that  the exercise was part of a larger lesson on “how much Jesus loved them.”

If Jesus really loved them, He wouldn’t allow them to get trapped in a room with this wacko.

The whole horrible  episode was partially captured on video, as you can see above. Some of Dempsey’s Disciples  shout and laugh as they line up to  spit at the pastor and slap him.  Some of them seem genuinely enthusiastic about abusing him.  (Hitler Youth may have been trained this way.) The video ends after the first cut with the kitchen knife; who knows what happened after that.

The church spokesperson “explained” that Dempsey was just trying  to present the exercise as a lesson of the crucifixion ahead of the Easter holiday.

Oh! Then that’s all right then!

Dempsey appeared in a video on the church’s Facebook page, saying with a knife sticking out of his back—I’m joking!

“It was just not appropriate and it was in bad judgment. I am so sorry for misrepresenting the community, the church, the parents, and the students — anybody that I hurt. This was not my intention. My intention was to just show them how much Jesus loves them and that I love them as a student leader for almost four years now. Tonight was an anomaly and it is not normally what happens. Again, I am deeply sorry for the pain that I have caused.”

Got it! You’re an irresponsible moron, and unfit to be left alone with children! Now check yourself into a mental ward, that’s a good pastor…

The church’s lead Pastor Justin Ross elaborated on the intended lesson. “Jaddeus got up in front of the students and he says, ‘I’m going to ask you to do something that might seem a little crazy, but if there’s anyone here that would like to spit in my face, you can do so without any repercussions,” Ross said.

“He had the opportunity to share a message about Easter,” Ross added, “and he chose to use an illustration to explain a very important topic about the crucifixion, but the illustration went too far.”

Ya think?????

In another statement, Ross told WBNS-TV,

“We exist to create an environment that is safe and predictable for students to come, connect with their friends and grow closer to God. Today we failed at creating that safe, predictable environment. We want to do better.”

Well that’s a relief. It would be pretty hard to do worse.

Another disturbing aspect of the episode was that none of the adults, including Ross, who were in the room  witnessing Dempsey’s deranged lesson—that was child abuse, you know— had the integrity, courage or independence to stop it.

Cults are like that.

The mother of one of the male children who handled the knife told a TV station that  her son won’t be returning to the church, and that she reported the incident to the sheriff’s office. Good. That’s one responsible parent. Unfortunately, I assume most will echo the sentiment of Kelsey Collier, who  told the BBC,

“Jaddeus and people in that church were always there for us.They’re the most understanding, least judgmental people you will ever meet.”

Well they certainly have the least judgment of anyone you are likely to meet…

 “I don’t think someone should be judged just based on one mistake, that one mistake doesn’t define who he is.”

Sorry, Kelsey, but someone in a better youth group needs to introduce you to the concept of signature significance.

Normal, trustworthy, rational and responsible people don’t tell kids to slap them and cut them with knives—ever. That’s not a mistake, that’s fanaticism, and it absolutely defines what the pastor is, at least in a professional context.

Dangerous, and nuts.

Best Sports Movies? [UPDATED]

For some reason, the question about which sports movies are the “best” or individual favorites has turned up in all sorts of places this week, I have no idea why. When it turned up during tonight’s Red Sox broadcast, I decided  it was time to give my list.

(The Red Sox and Rays are tied in the 7th, 4-4.)

Most sports movies are ethics movies, and my favorite five all fit that description.

1. “Hoosiers“(1986) The Gene Hackman movie about a tiny Indiana town’s surprise victory in the state basketball tournament (the actual 1954 team is above),  covers many ethics themes, including leadership, integrity, sacrifice , redemption, learning from past mistakes,  and moral luck. The basketball games are surprisingly realistic, and Jerry Goldsmith’s score, evoking bouncing basketballs on a court, is one of my all-time favorites. Favorite ethics moment: after training the team to obey him without question, and teaching them to play as a team, not individuals, coach Hackman tells his players with one play left in the championship game that they will use their star, Jimmy, as a decoy, and let another player take the final, game deciding shot. After a long pause, Jimmy tells him, “I’ll make it.” And like all good leaders, Hackman knows when to trust his subordinates. He let’s Jimmy countermand his order, and Jimmy indeed wins the game. Continue reading

Early Ethics Observations On Reactions To The Mueller Report

It was exactly 12:45 pm when I was informed by NPR that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer had issued a joint statement claiming the Attorney General Barr’s four page summary of the report released today had misled Congress. The report had been released at 11:00 am, and was over 400 pages long, as well as extremely dense, full of detailed legal arguments that even lawyers…like me…would have to read slowly and maybe more than once. What are the chances that Chuck and Nancy had read the report  by 12:45? I think “none” is a fair answer. It’s highly unlikely that any of their staff had read the report by them either. The accusation against Barr was a lie.

See that graphic above? That’s the dishonest fundraiser Democrats sent out almost immediately to inspire indignation from Democrats who haven’t read the report. If there are any ethical Democrats whose reaction to this isn’t “How dare my party treat me like I’m an idiot and give me false and misleading information and analysis to separate me from my money?” I’d like to hear from them. Maybe there just aren’t any ethical Democrats at all. At this point, I’m willing to entertain that possibility.

By the way, I’m about 40% through the report, though not in sequence. It is thorough, professional and appears to be fair. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/18/19: Redacted Mueller Report Freak-Out Edition

Good morning!

1. Mueller report ethics!

  • Note the names and employers of the pundits and reporters who opine on the 400 page report (to be released today around 11:00 am) before they could possibly read it. [Althouse this morning: “What can they do, once 11 rolls around, to avoid continuing to analyze the Barr presentation (which will include denouncing his decision to do a press conference and dominate the news in advance of the release of the text)? You can be cynical and say the text won’t affect the media, and everyone will keep saying what they were already saying, and that is, in fact, my baseline assumption. The TV news is awful.” Yes, it certainly is.]
  • The New York Times and others are incensed that the Justice Department briefed the President on the report before it was released to the public. This is Trump Derangement, pure and unadulterated. The President has a right to see the report, and the Justice Department is part of the executive branch, which the President oversees.I’d want to be briefed ahead of the release if I were President, especially with a biased news media and a crazed “resistance” preparing to make it look as bad as possible no matter what it says. The complaint is one more entry in “Journalist making the public dumber.”
  • Ken Starr, also indulging in “future news,” says that he is concerned that the report will read like an anti-Trump manifesto. I will be surprised. It is true that the Mueller had some questionably aggressive prosecutors on the team, but the report has Mueller’s name on it and it is his historical legacy. He is regarded in D.C. and in legal circles as professional and fair. I would expect him to keep the report as factual and non-political as possible.
  • In Attorney General Bill Barr’s (completely appropriate) press conference this morning, he said in  part,

Continue reading

Ethics Musings While Trying Keep My Mind Off The Red Sox-Yankee Game

Normally I’d be spending this time knocking out a post, but the Boston Red Sox are playing the Yankees, and they really, really need to win.  Typing while watching is hard because a) my netbook is literally falling apart b) Rugby, my ever-young Jack Russell Terrier, is on my lap, and c) as you might have noticed, I can’t type. So this is the equivalent of an ADS post. (I may have a bit of that problem, too.

  • The good news is that there is a school that cares this much about how its debate team does. The bad news is that everyone appears to have lost their mindseveryone appears to have lost their minds as well as their ethics alarms. A coach blames a 14-year-old for a debate loss because he’s friends with an opposing team member whose team used some of the same arguments the losing team used in practice. The 14-year-old  is then harassed  by some students, his mother freaks out, and now the former star debater is leaving the school and the school is being sued. Here’s what I don’t get: wouldn’t the opposing team using the same arguments the kid’s team used in practice be an advantage for the team that prepared for them? Anyway, who throws a debate?

Other than Marco Rubio, I mean… Continue reading

Lunch Time Ethics Appetizer, 4/17/2019: Accountability, Conflicts of Interest, Incivility, Hype And Privilege

It’s a real ethics poop-poop platter…

1. Red Sox lousy start ethics. Boston Red Sox starting ace Chris Sale, widely regarded as one of the top two or three pitchers in baseball who signed a rich multi-year extension with the team right before the season began, lost his fourth straight start yesterday to begin the season. He told reporters, “This is flat-out embarrassing. For my family, for our team, for our fans. This is about as bad as it gets. Like I said, I have to pitch better…It sucks. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I just flat-out stink right now.”

2. The Hollywood writers vs agents mess. I haven’t posted on this because I can’t find a copy of the controversial “Code of Conduct” that the agents refuse to sign. I also need to bone up on  the agency laws in New York and California. This article is a good summary of the show-down. Regarding the question of conflicts of interest in the practice of “packaging” and agents going into the production business, , however, it seems clear that the writers have the better arguments. From the article:

Packaging is a decades-old practice under which agencies may team writers with other clients from their stables for a given project. With packaging fees, an agent forgoes the usual 10 percent commission fee paid to them by individual clients; in its place, they are paid directly by the studio….The writers argue that agencies violate their fiduciary obligations to their clients when they make money from studios instead of from the people they are representing. The practice of accepting packaging fees, the writers say, allows the agencies to enrich themselves at the writers’ expense when they should be using their leverage to get more money for writer-clients.

Any time an agent gets paid by the party the agent is supposed to be negotiating with, that’s a textbook conflict. I’m amazed the agents have been getting away with this practice for so long. As for the production deals…

There are agency-affiliated companies that have moved into the production business — and this does not sit well with the writers unions. W.M.E., for instance, has an affiliate company called Endeavor Content. It was formed in 2017 and is a distributor of the show “Killing Eve,” as well as a producer of an epic drama coming from Apple TV Plus called “See.” C.A.A. also has an affiliate: Wiip. It is a producer of “Dickinson,” a comedy series that is also part of the Apple rollout scheduled for the fall. United Talent Agency is also getting in on production, with an affiliate called Civic Center Media. It has teamed up with M.R.C., the producer of “House of Cards,” to make new shows.

The agencies have argued that these affiliates are artist-friendly studios that will help writers, because they add to the number of potential buyers — which means more competition for writers’ services and bigger paychecks. The writers have said that agencies have a conflict of interest when they act as studios. How, they ask, can an agent represent you and also be your boss?

Bingo. The short and easy answer is “They can’t.”

Stay tuned… Continue reading