Category Archives: Childhood and children

Pop Quiz: What Does U.S.A. Gymnastics Have In Common With The Roman Catholic Church?

Both are large, powerful organizations that facilitated the sexual abuse of children in order to protect their money and reputation.

Yes, you can add Penn state to that list too.

I’m really sick today, and it’s hard writing, thinking and especially typing, but maybe I don’t have to explicate this so much.  Larry Nassar, the national team doctor for USA Gymnastics, is accused of abusing dozens of female gymnasts. More than 80 victims have come forward to claim that he sexually assaulted them. Dr. Nassar was accused of 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct last month in Michigan. The scandal has also claimed Steve Penny (above), president of U.S.A. Gymnastics, who recently resigned after 12 years in the post.

A sport that has its priorities straight does not hire someone like Penny to lead it. He had been the director of media and public relations for U.S.A. Cycling in the early 1990s,promoting the sport and its superstar, Lance Armstrong. When he took the job at U.S.A. Gymnastics, one of his responsibilities there was to evaluate sexual assault accusations and determine if they warranted being reported to the police. Notes Juliet Macur in the New York Times,

“This is how the world of Olympic sports in the United States has operated for years: No one thought it strange that a sports marketer was in the role of sex crimes investigator.”

Is it any surprise that the culture of women’s gymnastics was poisoned with sexual predators? We had been told by Nadia Comenici that she had been abused, and the sport’s optics were, to use a technical term, oogie. All those tiny women-girls, their growth and maturation retarded by dieting and excessively rigorous training, being hugged repeatedly by bear-like coaches: I stopped finding the sport anything but disturbing years ago. (My feminist friends, who worshiped the little sprites—the ice-skaters too–told me I had a dirty mind.) Here is  a section of a recent column by former gymnastic champion Jessica Howard:

By the time I reached the World Championships in 1999, my hips hurt so badly that at times I could barely walk. That was the environment I trained in that I believe created an opening for Larry Nassar, the national team doctor for USA Gymnastics, to sexually abuse me…the first time I met “Larry” I immediately trusted him. He was the premier USA Gymnastics doctor with an international reputation, and I felt lucky to have been invited to the ranch to work with him.

For our first appointment, he asked me to wear loose shorts and no underwear. That seemed strange, but I obeyed. As in training, I wanted to be perfect. He began to massage my legs, and then quickly moved inwards on my thighs. He then massaged his way into me. I was rigid and uncomfortable, but I didn’t realize what was happening. I was confused, and thought that it must just be what had to happen. This scenario happened repeatedly over the course of my week at the ranch. At no time was there ever another adult in the room. Coming off of a difficult year of training, Dr. Nassar reached out as the good guy, supporting me emotionally and promising me relief from the pain. Now I know that in actuality he expertly abused me under the guise of “treatment.”

I trusted USA Gymnastics. But I was sexually abused, as were other elite athletes, including Jamie Dantzscher, a 2000 Olympian, and Jeannette Antolin, who was a U.S. national team member. And the abuse was not limited to Dr. Nassar. According to more than 5,600 pages of USA Gymnastics records released to the IndyStar on March 3 after a lengthy court battle, some of the 54 coaches with sexual abuse complaint files spanning 10 years weren’t banned from gymnastics until years after USA Gymnastics discovered they were convicted of crimes against children.

Other accounts tell how this was ingrained in the system: Continue reading

39 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Sports, Workplace

In A Photo Finish Race For Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month, Ohio State Wes Retherford (R) Edges Texas State Rep. Jessica Farrar (D)

Both are embarrassments to their parties, their states, and the voters who elected them, however.

First the winner: Ohio State Representative Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, who was discovered over the weekend passed out drunk in his car with a loaded firearm at a McDonald’s drive-thru . Wes was arrested by Butler County sheriff’s deputies, and faces charges of operating a vehicle under the influence and improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle, because there is no current criminal law covering unbelievably stupid conduct by an elected official.

Retherford was easily re-elected in November in the heavily Republican district, even though voters had to know he was a drunk. He had to defeat a challenger in the GOP primary after another candidate gained the party’s endorsement because Retherford had been criticized for “partying.” “Partying” is a euphemism, in this case, for “has a serious drinking problem and is likely to end up  passed out drunk in his car at a McDonald’s drive-thru with a loaded firearm. The Ohio House Speaker even had to order a drinks cart removed from Retherford’s office because it violated House rules. People voted for him anyway. They must be so proud.

Our runner-up is a different brand of fool, but a fool nonetheless: Texas State Rep. Jessica Farrar, a Democrat, offered what she termed a “satirical bill”  that would fine men for masturbating, allow doctors to refuse to prescribe Viagra and require men to undergo a medically unnecessary rectal exam before any elective vasectomy. Farrar says that she knows her bill will never pass, but says she hopes it will start a conversation about abortion restrictions. Continue reading

81 Comments

Filed under Bioethics, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Boy, I Bet That Cruel, Xenophobic, Trump Administration Will Deport This Poor Kid…

None of my captions for this photo of Oliver Funes-Machado are in good taste. Pass.

I don’t know about you, but I’m thoroughly sick of the daily media stories about the hardship of illegal immigrant families being “torn apart” when a parenty finally is held accountable for breaching our borders and breaking U.S. laws. Here is a refreshing story about a likely deportation that everyone can get behind.

I hope.

ICE officials in North Carolina confirmed that Oliver Funes-Machado is an illegal immigrant, and I bet the news media makes sure the “illegal” is included when reporting on his case, if they do.  The 18-year old has been charged with cutting off his mother’s head with a butcher knife.

This is unethical, by the way.

Originally from Honduras, Oliver is accused of repeatedly stabbing his 35-year-old mother before beheading her. He then walked outside, holding her head in one hand and the knife in the other, as he waited for Franklin County deputies to arrive. He  called 911 to report the crime, just like a good citizen should .

Well, that’s a mitigation, I guess.

The teen told the 911 dispatcher that he killed his mother “because I felt like it.”

I don’t think Honduras is sending us their best people.

I’m sure he is a Dreamer, but I still think he should be deported.

30 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

“The Good Immigrant” III, or Fake News? The Incredible Sobbing 13-Year Old

A 13-Year-Old Girl Sobbed While Recording Her Immigrant Father Get Arrested By ICE Agent  is the headline at Buzzfeed. Wait, teenage girls weeping is news now? Was she the only teen sobbing this week? How is this news, by any standard?

Of course, it’s headline worthy if the objective is to provoke an emotional reaction rather than to inform the public objectively. In fact, nothing about the story is newsworthy, except as pr0-illegal immigration, anti-law enforcement, anti-President Trump propaganda and hate-mongering. Illegal immigrant and scofflaw Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez had dropped his daughter off at a Los Angeles school, and six blocks from the school his car was surrounded by immigration enforcement agents who took him into custody, just as law enforcement takes law-breakers into custody every hour of every day of the week.  Gonzalez had a 2014 deportation order against him issued by an immigration judge, and violated it every day he spent in the U.S., masquerading as a law-abiding citizen, since then.  He also had a 2009 DUI conviction. This wasn’t even a close call.

I’m pretty sure the children of gang members, drug dealers, muggers and serial killers also sob when daddy is taken away, and while I feel sorry for the children,  it doesn’t make me want to let their fathers go free, it doesn’t mean we should change the laws, and it isn’t news. 

ICE said Avelica-Gonzalez is scheduled to be deported to Mexico, where he was supposed to have returned three years ago. This isn’t cruel, this isn’t unfair, this shouldn’t be a surprise.

Brenda Avelica, a different daughter from the one heard sobbing on the viral video of her father’s arrest—YES! It really happened! The girl SOBBED! Film at 11!— said that her father has been in the US for 20 years and has four children, two of them adults.

So?

“It’s really hard what we’re going through,” Avelica told reporters. “I never thought we’d actually go through something like this. It’s terrible to feel and see your family being broken apart.”

Let me fix that for her. It’s terrible to finally have the law catch up to you when you are guilty as hell. The James brothers said that, I think. Maybe it was Bonny and Clyde. Or Bernie Maddoff. ICE agents are not the bad guys here. The elected officials, activists, and journalists who want us to think that, however, are. Very bad. Continue reading

21 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

The Good Immigrant II: The Loudmouth “Dreamer”

dani-vargas

Ooooh, I bet a lot of people are just going to hate this.

 22-year-old Daniela Vargas decided to participate in a pro-illegal immigrant news conference this week in Jackson, Mississippi. Two weeks before , ICE officials had handcuff her father and brother in the family’s driveway, for they, like her, were Argentines living in the U.S. illegally. Vargas was only 7 years old when she accompanied her father, mother and brother on a three-month visitor’s visa in 2001. The visa ran out, but they stayed in the Palmetto State.

Daniela had been protected as a “Dreamer” (another progressive euphemism designed to not only obscure truth but to make something that is nothing to be proud of sound benign, even cute) when she was 17 in December 2012 and again in November of 2014. She allowed that protection to lapse, and was officially violating the law for the last three months.

Nonetheless she put herself in front of a microphone and TV cameras this week to proclaim her defiance of the law. “Today my father and brother await deportation,while I continue to fight this battle as a dreamer to help contribute to this country which I feel that is very much my country,” she said.

Then, as Vargas drove home,  ICE agents pulled her over,  handcuffed her and took her to join her family as a first step to deportation.

Good.

Are you outraged? Really? This is a key breach of the common sense, “Don’t rub your law-breaking in the authorities’ faces rule.”  I remember my Dad one time, driving me to the airport when I was late for a flight, passing a state trooper who was going over the speed limit himself.  The trooper pulled us over, and was spitting mad. “You had the gall to flaunt speeding right in my face!” he said, barely under control. “That’s an insult to me, and the law. Just cruise by me going ten miles an hour faster as if I was nothing? No respect at all!” he said.  My dad could only say “I’m very sorry, officer. I didn’t intend to be disrespectful, but you are right. It was.” (He got a ticket.)

Vargas was so certain that she was immune from the laws of ” this country which she feels that is very much my country” that she flaunted her illegal status, after shrugging off her obligation to take the required steps to stay here. Like father, like daughter.

In a statement, an ICE spokesman confirmed that immigration officials took Vargas as “an unlawfully present Argentinian citizen,” into custody  “during a targeted immigration enforcement action” after the agency verified that her DACA status had lapsed.

Now the hashtag #freedany is being  spread on social media as an immigrant rights group, United We Dream, are encouraging young  illegal  immigrants  to sign a petition to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly demanding Vargas’s release. Its introduction says,,

“ICE agents detained 22 year old Dany Vargas just hours after she courageously spoke about her fear of deportation at a press conference…Dany came to the U.S. when she was 7 years old and was a beneficiary of the DACA program. She is a manager at a small store and dreams of becoming a math teacher.

Like many beneficiaries of the DACA program, paying the nearly $500 in fees every two years was hard and her DACA status expired. However, she saved up, got the money together and her renewal application is now in the approval process. But because of this technicality, ICE tracked her down, and put her into the deportation pipeline.”

Please.

“ICE agents detained 22 year old Dany Vargas just hours after she courageously spoke about her fear of deportation at a press conference…”

The proper word is not “courageously.” Stupidly, defiantly, foolishly, disrespectfully, arrogantly—ask that state trooper for the right words. Flaunting the law in the faces of law enforcement is many things, but it is not courageous.

“She is a manager at a small store and dreams of becoming a math teacher.” Continue reading

91 Comments

Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Family, Government & Politics, language, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

Ethics Quote Of The Day: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer

breyer

“The state has a reason? Yeah, it does. Does it limit free speech? Dramatically. Are there other, less restrictive ways of doing it? We’re not sure, but we think probably. . . . Okay. End of case, right?”

—-Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, during oral argument in the case Packingham v. North Carolina, describing how state laws are traditionally seen by the Court as infringing on freedom of speech.

Lester Packingham was registered as a sex offender in 2002 after pleading guilty to statutory rape with a 13-year-old girl (he was 21). He served his time and probation, and then, in  2010, Packingham posted on Facebook to thank the Lord for a recently dismissed parking ticket, writing, “Man God is Good! How about I got so much favor they dismissed the ticket before court even started? . . . Praise be to GOD, WOW! Thanks JESUS!”

Jesus, however, did not stop him from being prosecuted for that message under a 2008 North Carolina law that prohibits registered sex offenders from accessing social media, on the theory that it gives them access to minors.

Packingham appealed the resulting conviction, arguing that the law violated his First Amendment rights. The Supreme Court accepted the case, which could  determine whether access to social media sites like Facebook, Youtube, and others are a fundamental right.

In oral argument this week, observers got the distinct impression that this is where the Court is headed. At least five justices, a majority of the temporarily reduced court, suggested during argument that they would rule against North Carolina and for Packingham , whose lawyer says that more than 1,000 people have been prosecuted under the law.

Reading various reports of what was said, I am stunned by how out of touch everyone involved sounds. The Washington Post story describes Justice Kagan like she’s a web-head because she’s “only” 59.  “So whether it’s political community, whether it’s religious community, I mean, these sites have become embedded in our culture as ways to communicate and ways to exercise our constitutional rights, haven’t they?” Kagan asked North Carolina Deputy Attorney General Robert C. Montgomery, who was defending the law.

Do we really have to ask that question today? The law was passed in 2008, which in technology and social media terms makes it archaic. Legislators can be forgiven for not understanding the central role of social media in American life nine years ago, but in 2017, when we have a President tweeting his every lucid thought (and many not so lucid), how can anyone defend the argument that blocking a citizen from social media isn’t an extreme government restriction on free speech? Laws related to technology should all have sunset provisions of a couple years (a couple months?) to ensure that they haven’t been rendered obsolete by the evolving societal use of and dependency on  the web, the internet, and new devices. Continue reading

31 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Facebook, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Science & Technology, Social Media, The Internet, U.S. Society

Comment Of The Day I: “The “Transitioning” Female Wrestler: A Failure Of Ethics And Common Sense”

toaster

Jeff H, along with Tim LeVier and Glenn Logan, represents the longest commenting ethics observers on this site, their participation going back to the old Ethics Scoreboard. It is always a special pleasure to welcome one of them to a Comment of the Day honor, for, like all who venture into the comment wars, they have done a great deal to provide lively, perceptive and useful content here, and I am more grateful than I can express. (Jeff, a cartoonist, also contributed the drawing of Muhammad as cute Teddy Bear you will periodically see in the side header.

Here is Jeff H’s Comment of the Day on the post, “The “Transitioning” Female Wrestler: A Failure Of Ethics And Common Sense”:

OK. Here’s what I think:

I am the sort of person who thinks a person is whatever they feel they are inside. People like to talk about, ‘well, a transperson will never really be a woman” or whatever. I’ve not got much time for that. I ain’t got it in me to judge people for something like that. As I said to someone who was talking about the ‘perverts’ who dress like women, “Far as I care, I ain’t going to say you’re wrong. You are whatever you say you are. You say you’re a toaster, I’ll give you two pieces of bread.”

That also means that I think that a transperson should use the bathrooms they’re comfortable with. The notion that there are creeps purposely crossdressing to get into the ladies’ room seems basically fictitious. Even if it was true, unless it was to a gigantic density, I don’t see that as a legitimate reason to force them to use a bathroom they’re not comfortable with.

(It’s been going around, but there have been three Republican congressmen arrested for inappropriate conduct in men’s rooms, and they say no transpeople have been arrested for the same. I hope it doesn’t turn out that is HAS happened, but if it had… I think someone would have brought it up by now.)

So this is where I stand on the issue of the transgendered. I try to be as permissive and accepting as possible without being dismissively so. I’m not likely to budge on this, since most of the arguments against it seem similar to the anti-homosexual arguments most of us reject on sight.

Having said this… if Mack is really, in his heart of hearts, a male… then I don’t understand what possible pride he can take beating a bunch of girls at a sport when he’s ALSO taking performance-enhancing drugs. (Aside from everything else, I don’t really care if you have a legitimate reason to take steroids; I think you shouldn’t play competitive sports if you have to take them because they self-evidently give an unfair advantage.) Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Sports