Category Archives: Childhood and children

“A Nation Of Assholes” Update: Wait, I Thought TRUMP Would Be Teaching Our Kids To Be Vulgar And Boorish Jerks

Politico informs us of this charming development….

With children on stage behind him, Perez told an audience in Las Vegas this weekend that Trump “doesn’t give a shit about health care.”
Perez, President Barack Obama’s former labor secretary, made similar comments earlier this year. “They call it a skinny budget, I call it a shitty budget,” Perez said in Portland, Maine.

Wow. I assumed that it would be the President, the man who set new lows for uncivil discourse during his campaign, who would vulgarize the American culture, teach our children that rudeness and gutter language is appropriate, and generally coarsen our society further, when in fact it needs to move in the opposite direction. Nope: it’s the official leader of the Democratic Party.

Says Ann Althouse,

“Derangement syndrome. I can’t believe they think this is a good idea.”

Oh, I absolutely can. After all, the Democrats think undermining democracy and the institution of the Presidency is a good idea. They think advocating the impeachment or removal of a duly elected President based on their certainty that electing him was a mistake is a good idea. They thought trying to over-rule the Electoral College was a good idea, and setting new records for hypocrisy by refusing to accept the results of the election after excoriating Donald Trump for suggesting that he might do the same.They thought making certain that the filibuster option for opponents of Supreme Court candidates would be eliminated was a good idea. They think going out of their way to ensure that a dangerously divided nation becomes more divided is a good idea. Deciding to take the lead in making “shit” normal public discourse, soon to be followed by “fuck,” “motherfucker,” and “cocksucker”? That’s nothing. Not to these people.

That T-shirt is for sale on the party website, by the way. But of course the* makes it all genteel, right?

Glenn Reynold writes,  “It was just a few months ago they were going to the fainting couches over Trump. Remember?,” noting the hypocrisy in light of Hillary’s “Our Children Are Watching.”

Ethics Alarms already identified what this is. In March, I wrote,

“The Democratic Party has turned itself into the Asshole Party. Depressing. Disgusting. Despicable.”

However, even then, I did not anticipate that the party would lead the way to destroying any semblance of dignity, decorum and civility in our government.

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics

What Wellesley College Students Consider To Be Freedom Of Speech

A recent editorial in the Wellesley College student newspaper—Wellesley, as I’m sure you know, is the alma mater of Hillary Clinton—has justly set off ethics alarms across the political spectrum. That, at least, is good news: the hostility to free thought, expression and speech that I thought had decisively corrupted one side of that spectrum apparently is not as entrenched as I thought, or at least it is being diplomatically disguised.

The editorial with the Orwellian title of  “Free Speech Is Not Violated At Wellesley ” (it would have been accurate if the headline read “We Think Free Speech Is Not Violated At Wellesley Because Wellesley Hasn’t Taught Us What Free Speech Is”), contained several month’s worth of Ethics Alarms Unethical Quotes of the Week, such as

Many members of our community, including students, alumnae and faculty, have criticized the Wellesley community for becoming an environment where free speech is not allowed or is a violated right….However, we fundamentally disagree with that characterization, and we disagree with the idea that free speech is infringed upon at Wellesley. Rather, our Wellesley community will not stand for hate speech, and will call it out when possible.

Translation: We don’t oppose free speech. We just oppose speech we disagree with.

Wellesley students are generally correct in their attempts to differentiate what is viable discourse from what is just hate speech. Wellesley is certainly not a place for racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia or any other type of discriminatory speech. Shutting down rhetoric that undermines the existence and rights of others is not a violation of free speech; it is hate speech.

By this definition, the editorial itself is hate speech. This is the kind of rhetoric that Captain Kirk used to make evil computers blow their circuits on “Star Trek.”

The founding fathers put free speech in the Constitution as a way to protect the disenfranchised and to protect individual citizens from the power of the government. The spirit of free speech is to protect the suppressed, not to protect a free-for-all where anything is acceptable, no matter how hateful and damaging.

Now we know they don’t teach American History at Wellesley as well as philosophy and logic.

We have all said problematic claims, the origins of which were ingrained in us by our discriminatory and biased society. Luckily, most of us have been taught by our peers and mentors at Wellesley in a productive way. It is vital that we encourage people to correct and learn from their mistakes rather than berate them for a lack of education they could not control.  While it is expected that these lessons will be difficult and often personal, holding difficult conversations for the sake of educating is very different from shaming on the basis of ignorance.

Wait, wasn’t this endorsement of indoctrination written by Lenin or Stalin? Surely this section should be in quotes with attribution.

This being said, if people are given the resources to learn and either continue to speak hate speech or refuse to adapt their beliefs, then hostility may be warranted.

I’m sorry, I just ran screaming from my office and momentarily lost my train of thought.

Pointing to the worst sections of the editorial fail to convey its gobsmacking intellectual flaccidity, smug certitude and hostility to the open exchange of ideas. We know where this came from, too: the  education at Wellesley. This month, six Wellesley professors who comprise the college’s Commission on Race, Ethnicity, and Equity signed a letter maintaining that Wellesley should not allow challenges to the political and social views that the campus has decreed are the correct ones, arguing that speakers who are brought to campus to encourage debate may “stifle productive debate by enabling the bullying of disempowered groups.” Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Family, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Rights, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

From The “Saint’s Excuse” Files:The Catholic Church, Penn State, and Now Choate…What Have We Learned?

Protect the hive. Always protect the hive…

The renowned private boarding school school Choate Rosemary Hall, alma mater of such luminaries as John Dos Passos, Edward Albee, Glenn Close, multiple Kennedys and dozens more of the rich, famous and powerful, , just revealed that at least twelve former teachers had sexually molested, and in one case, raped, students without the crimes being reported to police. The pattern continued over decades. In some cases, teachers were allowed to resign after being confronted with evidence of abuse, and administrators wrote still letters of recommendations for them after they were fired. The predators then went to other schools, sometimes in positions of power and authority.

After the similar institutional conduct revealed by the Catholic Church and Penn State, does anyone believe that this is a rare occurrence in institution, including the most prestigious—and virtuous!—ones? The lesson is that established, powerful, iconic institutions are programmed to protect themselves above others, and regard their own missions and continued vitality more precious than any single individual, even a child.

Revisiting one of the most important of the Ethics Alarms’ 92 rationalizations:

13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”

This rationalization has probably caused more death and human suffering than any other. The words “it’s for a good cause” have been used to justify all sorts of lies, scams and mayhem. It is the downfall of the zealot, the true believer, and the passionate advocate that almost any action that supports “the Cause,’ whether it be liberty, religion, charity, or curing a plague, is seen as being justified by the inherent rightness of the ultimate goal. Thus Catholic Bishops protected child-molesting priests to protect the Church, and the American Red Cross used deceptive promotions to swell its blood supplies after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The Saint’s Excuse  allows charities to strong-arm contributors, and advocacy groups to use lies and innuendo to savage ideological opponents. The Saint’s Excuse is that the ends justify the means, because the “saint” has decided that the ends are worth any price—especially when that price will have to be paid by someone else.

Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Education, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity, Religion and Philosophy

Thank The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team For Illuminating The Muddled Ethics Of Wage Gap Arguments In Women’s Professional Sports

News item (April 5, 2017):

The U.S. women’s soccer players’ union and the sport’s governing body have agreed to a five-year collective bargaining agreement, improving standards for the national team and pro league and ensuring labor harmony through the next World Cup and Olympics.

In a joint statement, the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association and U.S. Soccer Federation said they have “ratified a new collective bargaining agreement which will continue to build the women’s program in the U.S., grow the game of soccer worldwide and improve the professional lives of players on and off the field. We are proud of the hard work and commitment to thoughtful dialogue reflected through this process, and look forward to strengthening our partnership moving forward.”

The sides had been operating under the terms of the previous deal, which expired Dec. 31. In recent years, the players have raised issues about compensation and working conditions compared to their male counterparts, casting a shadow over the efforts of the most successful women’s team in soccer history and pitting the federation against wildly popular athletes, such as Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan.

In March 2016, the players  filed a federal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charging the USSF with wage discrimination. The case remains active.

Now this, from a day before:

In preparation for two upcoming friendlies against Russia, the U.S. women’s national team played the FC Dallas U-15 boys academy team on Sunday and fell 5-2, according to FC Dallas’ official website. This friendly came as the U.S. looked to tune up before taking on Russia on Thursday night in a friendly.

Ethics musings:

1.  CBS immediately provides cover, writing,

“Of course, this match against the academy team was very informal and should not be a major cause for alarm. The U.S. surely wasn’t going all out, with the main goal being to get some minutes on the pitch, build chemistry when it comes to moving the ball around, improve defensive shape and get ready for Russia.”

No, there’s no cause for alarm, because maybe the Russian women’s team would lose to amateur teenage boys too. But the women have loudly and indignantly insisted that they should be compensated at the same rate as the men’s soccer team. On what basis? If it is that the women’s team makes as much money as the men’s team (it doesn’t), OK, that’s a valid point. If it is that their skill, performance and level of play require equal pay, I think it is clear that facts and reality are not on their side. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Sports, U.S. Society, Workplace

Ethics Quiz: Prosecuting Juliet In “Romeo And Juliet 2017”

Last month, on March 14, 11-year old Tysen Benz  read text messages saying that his 13-year-old girl friend had committed suicide. In apparent grief, the 11-year-old boy from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula hanged himself.  In reality, the girl had sent the fake news as a joke. Or as a cruel trick. Or because she was 13.

In the Shakespeare play, to fake her death Juliet took a sleeping potion that made her seem dead. (They didn’t have text messaging then.)

Now, if this was really “Romeo and Juliet,” Juliet would have killed herself too after learning that her boyfriend was dead. Instead,  she is facing criminal charges. Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Wiese says that she is responsible for Tysen’s death, so he is charging her with malicious use of telecommunication service, punishable by up to six months in juvenile detention. He is also charging “Juliet” with using a computer to commit a crime, which carries a sentence of up to a year.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is this a fair, just and ethical prosecution?

Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Law & Law Enforcement, Literature

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: President Barack Obama

Yesterday’s U.S.  missile attack on Syria prompted by Assad’s use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians clarifies just how inept and feckless President Obama’s handling of foreign policy was.

In an article today in the reliably progressive and Democratic Party-boosting The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg writes,

“President Obama’s foreign policy doctrine, like many foreign policy doctrines, was contradictory at times, and it sometimes lacked coherence.”

1. At times?

2. Sometimes lacked coherence?

3. Notice the obligatory “like many foreign policy doctrines” to cushion the blow. Journalists are in permanent denial over just how epically awful the first black President’s administration was.

Goldberg eventually gets around to Obama’s “decision, in 2013, to go back on his promise to punish the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons on civilians. Early in the Syrian civil war, Obama publicly drew a red line concerning Assad’s behavior, but later decided to forgo military strikes, even after being presented with near-definitive proof that Assad had crossed the red line in grotesque fashion. “  This inadequate description intentionally leaves out the dispiriting details of that fiasco. Here is what Obama said in August of 2013 when the first “red line” appeared:

“We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people. We have been very clear to the Assad regime — but also to other players on the ground — that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus; that would change my equation….We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that’s a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons.” 

Ethics Alarms:

Now, lawyers and grammarians may argue over what “a red line” means, what constitutes “use” and “a whole bunch,” and what the President considers “enormous consequences.” None of that matters. What matters is what the statement was understood to mean around the world, and it was widely understood to mean this: If chemical weapons are used against the Syrian people by Assad, the United States will act decisively. Last week, reliable evidence indicated that indeed chemical weapons had been used, and that the “red line” had been crossed.

Obama’s response? Double-talk, backtracking and word-parsing:

  • The President to reporters Friday with Jordan’s King Abdullah in the Oval Office:  “What we have right now is an intelligence assessment. And as I said, knowing that potentially chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria doesn’t tell us when they were used, how they were used. Obtaining confirmation and strong evidence, all of those things we have to make sure that we work on with the international community. And we ourselves are going to be putting a lot of resources into focusing on this. And I think that, in many ways, a line has been crossed when we see tens of thousands of innocent people being killed by a regime. But the use of chemical weapons and the dangers that poses to the international community, to neighbors of Syria, the potential for chemical weapons to get into the hands of terrorists — all of those things add increased urgency to what is already a significant security problem and humanitarian problem in the region. So we’re going to be working with countries like Jordan to try to obtain more direct evidence and confirmation of this potential use. In the meantime, I’ve been very clear publicly, but also privately, that for the Syrian government to utilize chemical weapons on its people crosses a line that will change my calculus and how the United States approaches these issues. So this is not an on or off switch.”
  • A White House official to reporters Thursday: “I think what the Assad regime needs to know is that we are watching this incredibly closely. Were he to undertake any additional use [of chemical weapons], he would be doing so under very careful monitoring from us and the international community. There should be no mistaking our determination not just to get to the bottom of these reports, but to send a message … that Bashar al-Assad and his regime will be held accountable for these types of actions. We’re going to be methodical, rigorous and relentless … so we can establish exactly what happened…all options are on the table in terms of our response…If we reach a definitive determination that the red line has been crossed … what we will be doing is consulting closely with out friends and allies … to determine what the best course of action is.”

So those “enormous consequences ” of the “red line” being crossed is that the United States will start consulting with friends and allies?

Well, yes, in a word. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, War and the Military

In Kansas, A High School Ethics Train Wreck: An Unqualified Principal, Unethical Students, And A False And Dangerous Lesson About Consequentialism

Why are these students smiling sweetly? Because they sent the message to their teachers to be wary; after all, there’s a lot of dirt on the internet…

Ugh.

Seemingly every one is cheering the Pittsburg High School (Kansas) students on the school paper who investigated their newly hired principal, found her credentials to be dubious, and forced her to resigned from her $93,000-a-year job. You can read the story here and here.

For the purposes of Ethics Alarms, I’m not interested in the principal at all. What matters here is that journalists, teachers, TV talking heads and everyone else commenting on the story are proving themselves ignorant of basic ethical principles, like the fact that conduct that happens to result in something desirable doesn’t make the conduct appropriate if it wasn’t ethical at the outset, aka “consequentialism leads to bad lessons and bad ethics,” and “the ends justifies the means.”

From the article:

“Pittsburg journalism adviser Emily Smith said she is “very proud” of her students. “They were not out to get anyone to resign or to get anyone fired. They worked very hard to uncover the truth.”

Emily Smith is too incompetent and ethically confused to advise aspiring student journalists or any other students. The students “wanted be assured that she was qualified and had the proper credentials,” according to the student editor of the paper. That’s not their job, their duty, or their business. They aren’t journalists; they are students learning about journalism. Determining if the new principal was qualified was entirely the responsibility of the the Pittsburg Board of Education, which botched its job and approved hiring the principal at its meeting March 6. That the students did the due diligence the Board failed to do is being used as cover by the Board: Everything worked out because of these great students, who we have educated so well!

Wrong. Unbelievably wrong. Dangerously wrong.

What’s going on here? Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Journalism & Media