Category Archives: Childhood and children

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/17/2018: Serena And Kavanaugh

Not everybody’s morning, but today (and tomorrow) Paul Morella’s stirring Clarence Darrow is MY morning, along with some fortunate and ethical Virginia lawyers…

Hi!

I’m getting ready for an early morning CLE seminar on the ethics lessons from Clarence Darrow’s career, so this is going to be quick and brief.

1 Now that’s a double standard! Ann Althouse flagged an aspect of the statistics on male penalties in tennis we discussed yesterday that I neglected to mention. The men play longer matches, five sets against the women’s three. Thus there is more time on the court to commit rules breaches. She also asks why women play less. That IS a double standard, but I’ve never heard a female player complain about it. She also writes,

Look at the prison population. It’s less than 10% women. Does that mean men are held to a high standard of behavior? I think we’re comfortable with the extreme gender disproportion because we feel awfully sure that men commit many more crimes, especially the kind of crimes that deserve a substantial prison sentence. We like thinking that the prisons are confining individuals who pose a danger to the rest of us, and we think of those people as overwhelmingly male. Maybe we’re wrong, but you can see we’re pretty resistant to the idea that there’s a “double standard” that’s unfair to men.

Ann’s comparison is a bit off, don’t you think? Yes, the prison stats presumably mean that men commit more crimes, but would any female defendant, in the face of such figures, throw a tantrum in court claiming that the system in biased against women?

2. High school. High school. I just listened to several critics of the late-hit accusation by Christine Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh, as they expressed problems with the years, decades, that have passed since the alleged incident. Never mind the length of time: it was high school. The participants were minors.

Am I going crazy? First we had multiple baseball players who sportswriter were saying needed to be fined and suspended for politically incorrect tweets they made to their seven followers when they were still shaving only every other day, and now a distinguished judge, nominated to the Supreme Court, who has been cleared by six FBI background checks and assembled an unassailable career in a field, law, which makes character an entry level requirement, and an account of a drunken episode of teenage stupidity is considered relevant by progressives? In Washington state, liberals and especially feminists assembled to demand that a woman’s prior record of illegal drug dealing and gun possession be set aside as a reason to deny her a law license, and she was an adult when she was convicted and served time in prison. Are we really going to accept a new paradigm in which the mistakes we make on the way to adult responsibilities as clueless students and teenagers will be held against us forever, as if growing up doesn’t count?

I’ve been trying to think back to my high school years, my miserable dating experiences, and the dozens of stupid, wrong things I did that today embarrass me every time I’m reminded of them. Should those juvenile episodes continue to shadow my reputation and handicap my career forever? That seems to be what the latest anti-Kavanaugh strategy is arguing for. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Childhood and children, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics

Saturday Afternoon Ethics Titillation, 9/15/18: Yes, Virginia, It Was A Smear…

A hurricane-free hello!

…at least in Northern Virginia. We had been told by breathless media and local government since early in then week that today and tomorrow would consist of heavy rain and dangerous winds. Naturally, today dawned clear, calm and menacing. The shelves in the supermarkets, however, were picked over as if a nuclear attack were imminent. At what point are urgent warnings no longer prudent but irresponsible and fear-mongering? At what point do they undermine the ability to get the public to take warnings seriously when there is a genuine threat? This area plays Chicken Little so often  and with such speculative provocation that I don’t trust the prognostications at all any more.

And who the heck buys up all the pickles to prepare for flooding?

1. Ethics Dunce: John Kerry. But anyone who didn’t know that by now wouldn’t be convinced by me, so I’ll just include poor, sad, useless and deluded John in a Saturday afternoon potpourri that hardly anyone reads. But what a jerk. We don’t enforce the Logan Act that prohibits private citizens from mucking around in our diplomacy, but under what justification can he argue for his negotiating with Iran? There is literally no good he can accomplish (there was little good he could accomplish when he was authorized to engage in diplomacy), and now his interference does is undermine the elected President and government.

Trump’s tweet…

John Kerry had illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people. He told them to wait out the Trump Administration! Was he registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act? BAD!

…was predictably juvenile and superfluous, but, incredibly, Kerry’s return tweet was worse, and might as well have consisted of “Nyah nyah nyah!”

Mr. President, you should be more worried about Paul Manafort meeting with Robert Mueller than me meeting with Iran’s FM. But if you want to learn something about the nuclear agreement that made the world safer, buy my new book, Every Day Is Extra:

Wow. Begin by passing along the “resistance” myth that there just has to be some smoking gun proving the President rigged the election, follow it up with the batty theory that giving the #1 purveyor of world terrorism billions of dollars to play with “makes the world safer,” and then hint that the real reason he’s openly interfering with U.S. diplomacy is to sell his book.

Yechhh.

2. A plug for a really smart friend who debunked a Democrat smear: Senator Feinstein’s despicable desperation sliming of Brett Kavanaugh, a real “Have you no decency at all?”-worthy moment, prompted a nasty conspiracy theory yesterday.  The fact that the GOP could rapidly release a letter with 65 female acquaintances from the nominee’s high school years certifying that his anonymous accuser has described conduct wildly out of character being cited as proof that the alleged episode was already known by the administration, and thus has some basis in fact.

Virginia Hume, known to some as the politically active daughter of veteran broadcast journalist Britt Hume and known to me as a smart, clever, astute woman who worked for me 30 years ago, authored a piece for the Weekly Standard explaining how the letter came together so quickly. She knows, because she signed it.

She writes in part…

“The letter was conceived and drafted by friends of Brett’s, and it was drafted after allegations came out on Thursday. I learned about the letter from a friend and fellow signatory. Others learned about it the same way. Those surprised at the speed with which it came together should see it as yet another testament to Brett’s excellent reputation”

Elsewhere in the article are examples of Virginia’s characteristic wit. I can vouch without reservation for her honesty and integrity. I would trust her with my life. More than that, I would trust her with my dog. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Social Media

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up And Sunday Left-Overs, 9/10/18: Values Under Fire

Good Morning.

1. A plug. The computer rescue service GuruAid is why I couldn’t get a Warm-Up post up yesterday: about four different technicians spend from 6:30 am to 3:00 pm helping me fix a serious malfunction in my old Dell PC, so I wouldn’t have to lose Windows 7 forever. It wreaked havoc with my day and schedule, but the computer finally starts immediately without black-outs, red screens, blue screens, warning, check points, sudden freezes and other distractions.

2. Yeah, why waste time on all of this “values” stuff? The Texas Board of Education will decide in the coming months whether to accept the recommendations of a working group to end state requirements that the heroism of the Alamo’s defenders be taught to seventh graders in a required history course, as as study of  William Barrett Travis’s iconic letter written before the final Mexican siege that killed all of the approximately 200 defenders, including Travis. The letter ends, “I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country — Victory or Death.”

The group of educators and historians, tasked with streamlining social-studies standards, felt that teaching about “heroic” acts at the Alamo was “value-loaded,” and eliminating them from the curriculum, along with the significance of such Alamo figures as Davy Crockett and James Bowie would save 90 minutes.

You know, I don’t think I’m even going to bother explaining what’s wrong and alarming about this, except to note that if you wonder why our rising generations don’t understand what has been great about America, or why being a nation founded on values and ideals is important, this episode ought to enlighten you.

3. Beach ethics. Here is an interesting article about how to maximize ethical conduct at the beach. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Government & Politics, History, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Sports

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/5/2018: Doppelgangers And Other Weirdness

Oh-oh! It’s a creepy morning…

1. If “there are no coincidences,” then what the hell does THIS mean? The ethics category, if there is one, would be “Nature Incompetence,” or perhaps “deity abuse of power.” Look at minor league baseball pitcher Brady Feigl:

Oh! I’m sorry! I meant “Look at these TWO minor league baseball pitchers who are both named Brady Feigl.” One is in the Texas Rangers system, and the other is in the Oakland A’s system.

A similar example of God fooling around for his own amusement and our confusion had historical significance.

This man is Will West, a convicted criminal who was sent to Leavenworth Prison in 1903…

 

…and this is William West, who was already being held there:

The fact that the two men were so facially similar helped convince American law enforcement to begin using fingerprints rather than facial measurements for identification.

2. Over-blown conservative news media controversy of the week: In “First Man,” Ryan Gosling plays Neil Armstrong. For some reason, director Damien Chazelle decided to omit the iconic moment when Armstrong planted the American flag on the Moon. The Horror. Fox News can’t stop talking about it. President Trump has declared that he’ll boycott the film. Morons. Continue reading

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Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/2/18: Talking Rabbits, Giant Ants, And California Progressives

Good Morning!

1. I may start banning commenters who keep saying this. A new, articulate and agenda-driven commenter, Ross Grazier, writes, “But your writing on this blog seems to be all about politics and much less about ethics.” I don’t want to drive Ross off, since the position of Ethics Alarms Knee-jerk Progressive Ratioanalizer And Denier of Mainstream Media Bias seems to be vacant at the moment, but I’m really, really sick of this common smear of my work (Ross’s comment also reminded me that I need to add the “s0 called ethicist” and “self-anointed ethicist” to the magic phrases that can get a commenter banned). Not for the first time, I decided to categorize every topic I wrote about here in the past week as political, non-political, or “mixed,” meaning that the article included substantive relevance to political figures or controversies but that the ethical issues involved were not solely political in scope or relevance. There were 42 distinct topics discussed (I did not include the Comments of the Day). Of these, 26 were non-political. Ten were “mixed.” Exactly six were  “about politics.”

I was surprised, frankly. I expected a bit more emphasis on politics.

I regard Ross’s accusation and others like it as an either an effort to undermine my credibility and the reputation of Ethics Alarms, or as an example of confirmation bias at work. Easily debunked claims that are asserted anyway in print are unethical.

2. Movie Ethics Potpourri! A. I finally saw “Peter Rabbit,” which was the subject of a (Non political, Ross!) post here. You may recall that Sony was pressured into grovelling an apology for a scene in which the animated rabbits shot blackberries into Mr. McGregor’s mouth using sling-shots, provoking an allergic reaction. Seeking its 15 minutes of cheap publicity and social media outrage mongering, Kenneth Mendez, president and chief executive of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, said, “Making light of this condition hurts our members because it encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously, and this cavalier attitude may make them act in ways that could put an allergic person in danger.” Naturally, there was a Change.org petition demanding that the offending sequence be removed. Now that I’ve seen the film—which is pretty good, not quite “Babe” good, but well-done and fun—I can appreciate the full insanity of the complaints.  B. The British film “Calibre,” now playing on Netflix, is a “Deliverance” style ethics movie, in which two reasonable good guys go on a hunting trip in Scotland and are hurled by bad luck and panic into a series of ethical dilemmas, managing to make exactly the wrong decision at every turn. In the end, three people are dead, multiple crimes have been committed, and the lessons are murky. This is an excellent “what would you do?” film for group discussion, though the ultimate answer is “Don’t go hunting, in Scotland or anywhere else.” C. Finally, in the rarified category of giant ant movie ethics, there is “Them!” It is a justly admired 50’s Sci-Fi flick about an alien invasion of giant ants, featuring a surprisingly accomplished and diverse cast including pre-“Gunsmoke” Jim Arness, James Whitmore, ol’ Santa Clause himself, Edmund Gwenn, ubiquitous Western character actor Dub Taylor, and Sigourney Weaver’s wacky uncle, Doodles Weaver. I hadn’t seen it for a while, and forgot that it included one of the most blatant examples of Rationalization #58. The Universal Trump, or “Think of the children!” on film.

Scientists and the military have determined that the giant ants—We’re talking THIS big:

—have invaded California (from outer space, in ant-shaped space ships!), that they pose a threat to LA, the state, and entire country, and that there may be hundreds of thousands of them. California has declared martial law. A military commander announces that the best strategy is to gas underground passages where the ants are presumably gathering, and then kill the ones who escape to the surface. No, says Big Jim. It seems that there are two small children missing that were taken by the ants from their now thoroughly masticated and dead father. As long as there’s a chance they may still be alive,  Jim says, we can’t take the chance of harming them. The man is gob-smacked. “You mean you’d risk all of Los Angeles for two kids who are probably already dead?” he asks, in a fair framing of the issue. “Why don’t you ask their mother?” says Arness. “She’s right over there.”

Well all righty then! How can you argue with that? Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce And Awful Human Being: Thomas Frieden’s #MeToo Victim…And Also, “KABOOM!”

Like “Advice Goddess” blogger  Amy Alkon, when I heard that Dr. Thomas Frieden, Obama’s former head of the CDC, had been arrested for sexual assault, I just assumed that he was one more prominent serial predator who has used his power to abuse women in the workplace, and a pretty serious one, if he ended up in cuffs. After all, nobody has arrested Matt Lauer or Charlie Rose.

Then I read the whole story, and my head exploded. But not because of what Frieden had allegedly done.

A 55-year-old woman, so far unidentified in the media (I want that woman’s namecame forward to the police in July and said that Dr. Frieden squeezed her buttocks without her permission nine months earlier, on October 20, 2017.  She told investigators the incident occurred  as she was leaving a gathering at Dr. Frieden’s residence in Brooklyn Heights. She said Dr. Frieden groped her while their spouses weren’t looking, and he later apologized, citing personal problems.. Dr. Frieden says the woman is a long-time friend and acquaintance of more than thirty years.

Got that?  Almost a year earlier, at a party, a male friend squeezed her butt. He apologized. She waited all this time, and then humiliated him professionally and publicly by having him arrested.

How can this conduct possibly be excused, and I mean hers. His conduct was wrong—I have never groped a woman’s ass or any other part of her body without clear consent in my life, indeed I have heard complaints that I don’t grope enough— and it was technically civil battery, but far, far from criminal. Having the man arrested is nothing less than a hateful, cruel, vindictive abuse of him, his family and the justice system.

We are told that this women—I want her name!—is a New York artist who has been a vocal #MeToo activist since the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck started rolling and squishing, and  has been creating artwork related to the movement. She also wrote an article in an online publication describing that single grope, from a friend, at a party, as the moment she was transformed from activist to victim. Ah! Then treating an old friend this way is completely justified!

No, it’s not. She’s not just an ethics dunce, she’s an asshole.  Alkon–who gets the Ethics Alarms Pointer for this one— calls the grope, which is not sexual harassment, not occurring in the workplace or between superior and inferior, and not creating a hostile work environment, Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society

Ethics Hero: Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò

From the National Catholic Register:

In an extraordinary 11-page written testament, a former apostolic nuncio to the United States has accused several senior prelates of complicity in covering up Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s allegations of sexual abuse, and has claimed that Pope Francis knew about sanctions imposed on then-Cardinal McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI but chose to repeal them.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, 77, who served as apostolic nuncio in Washington D.C. from 2011 to 2016, said that in the late 2000s, Benedict had “imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis” and that Viganò personally told Pope Francis about those sanctions in 2013.

Archbishop Viganò said in his written statement, simultaneously released to the Register and other media, (see full text below) that Pope Francis “continued to cover” for McCarrick and not only did he “not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on him” but also made McCarrick “his trusted counselor.” Viganò said that the former archbishop of Washington advised the Pope to appoint a number of bishops in the United States, including Cardinals Blase Cupich of Chicago and Joseph Tobin of Newark.

Archbishop Viganò, who said his “conscience dictates” that the truth be known as “the corruption has reached the very top of the Church’s hierarchy,” ended his testimony by calling on Pope Francis and all of those implicated in the cover up of Archbishop McCarrick’s abuse to resign.

His full testimony can be read here.

Well, let’s see if the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church can duck its responsibility one more time. This particular giant, nasty ethics chicken has been trying to roost for decades, while whoever was Pope continued to lecture the rest of the world, and the United States particularly, about its moral failings. Funny thing with me: I don’t take well to lectures on morality from self-anointed authorities who habitually facilitate their pals’ child-molesting hobby.  It is telling—damning is a better word—that Pope Francis, who seldom hesitates to comment on the evils of war, capitalism and climate change cannot find words to comment on this accusation. As we discussed here last week, he did issue some Authentic Frontier Gibbersh about the re-emerging child abuse scandal as if he was just an innocent bystander.

Archbishop Viganò is a model whistleblower, although his call for the Pope and the others to resign is inadequate. The entire culture of the Church is corrupt to the core, and aa few, or many, resignations will not cure the problem.

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