Comments Of The Day: “Open Forum, Or ‘I Guess I Picked The Wrong Time To Start Driving All Over Virginia!’” (“Profession Of Journalism” Thread)

Today we have a rare tag team Comment of the Day: JutGory raised the provocative ethics issue of what constitutes a profession and whether journalism qualifies, and Rich in Ct, who has been on fire of late, responded with a sharp analysis.

This was all especially propitious, since the I had a dispute with my legal ethics teaching partner during our (very well-received) “Crossfire”-style seminars last week on just this question. He maintains that it is a a myth to pretend that a profession like the the law is called such for any reason other than the fact lawyers engage in it for compensation. Well, he’s wrong. Professions are not merely occupations, but pursuits one undertakes for the good of society. That is why the hallmark of professionals is that they are trusted and trustworthy, and why their compensation is of secondary priority. The desire for profit undermines professionalism by creating conflicts of interest.

My answer to the question posed by JutGory is that journalism must be a profession, because the public must be able to trust journalists for journalism to benefit society. However presents day journalists are driven by motivations far removed from the public good: their personal political agendas, the pursuit of fame and power, and the love of money. It can be a professiona, and should be a profession, but as currently practiced, it isn’t a profession.

Here are JutGory’s and Rich in Ct.’s  Comments of the Day on the “profession of journalism” thread in the post, “Open Forum, Or ‘I Guess I Picked The Wrong Time To Start Driving All Over Virginia!’”

First, here’s JutGory…

Can journalism be a profession?

My profession, law, has a set of ethical rules. It is a club, and it is self-regulating. Is it self-regulating? Yeah. My state gets about 1000 complaints per year, and about 10 percent each year get disciplined. Every year, you get a handful of disbarments. Not overbearing but I know a lawyer who got a 60-day suspension for a “non-legal” infraction and basically threw in the towel. I can empathize. It is like being accused of a crime; it can be hard to deal with. And, you are held to standards.

The press? You can’t be de-pressed? Dis-presses? Unimpressed?

In a free society, with a free press, can you have a profession where there is no way to regulate its participants.

A shorter way to ask the question: can the press be a true profession if Dan Rather can’t be barred from the profession?

Similar question for teaching. The wrinkle with teaching: can a profession governed by labor unions really enforce ethical standards and discipline?

Rich in Ct’s response… Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/7/2019: Trump’s Obsession, Joe’s Hands, And University Ethics Stumbles” [Item #3]

To refresh memories, #3 in this ethics warm-up of a week ago involved this email, sent to the University of Wisconsin campus yesterday by administrators.

To our campus community, Friday morning, what was intended as a protest to inspire action on environmental climate change had a very different and negative impact on many who witnessed it. Two students displayed nooses tied around their necks outside the Humanities Building.

The students involved have since apologized for their actions and committed to rectifying the impact they caused. We commend the university staff and members of our campus community who immediately intervened with the protesters and helped them understand the impact they were having. The protesters then removed the nooses.

The fact remains that members of our community were harmed. While the First Amendment guarantees the right to free expression, our community best succeeds when we express our views and promote a campus climate that is welcoming and safe to everyone.

We hope this experience can serve as a learning opportunity. Regardless of whether the display of a hateful symbol is based on a lack of cultural understanding or an expressed intent to promote fear, the lingering legacies of what these symbols represent create visceral and painful reactions among many. That harm is especially acute for people of color, for whom this history is very real.

Let’s be clear: ignorance is not an excuse. We can and must do better. For those of us who are members of majority communities, our campus offers many resources through Student Affairs and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement to learn about racism and injustice and about how to be strong allies.

And for those who are impacted by incidents like this, we want you to know that we support you and have resources to help….

I wrote, “The school would not make a similar statement if American flags were burned  or an effigy of President Trump were set on fire, and those gestures are no less offensive to many than the symbolic use of a noose. Nor was anyone “harmed” by the student protesters. Opinions, symbols and gestures do not harm healthy, normal people. Forcing the students to apologize was wrong and a direct affront to their right of expression.”

Mrs. Q then picked up the baton. Here is her Comment of the Day on that issue: Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “The Euthanasia Slippery Slope: A Case Study”

 Ethics Alarms master commenter Mrs. Q has the highest ratio of Comments of the Day to comments of any of the erudite participants here. If she would consider it, I’d love to feature her ethical musings in a regular column on the blog. This is the first of two Mrs. Q compositions you will see this weekend; it concerns the issues of euthanasia and consent, which were explored in twoposts this week, and a poll. Regarding that: here is the still live survey regarding the hypothetical I posed in this follow-up to the one about the Dutch doctor:

As you can see, those supporting the opposite position of Mrs. Q (and me) are in a distinct minority.

Here is Mrs. Q’s Comment of the Day, a reply to another commenter,  on the post, “The Euthanasia Slippery Slope: A Case Study.”

My God fearing Catholic grandma had the opposite response to yours. She was 102 & 7mo. and after breaking her hip it was too late to even think of surgery. She continued to weaken & lose weight yet she fought by drinking milkshakes & trying to greet her many family/visitors.

Before she got to this point a few years prior, her care coordinator somehow changed her directive to DNR, which as a Catholic she wouldn’t have agreed to, yet this person tried to convince the family that my grandma said yes to the change. If my family hadn’t checked the paperwork, my grandma’s incorrect and unauthorized change would have remained; however our family changed it back. My understanding is such acts are not uncommon in these facilities.

Fast forward to her last days. She was increasingly given higher doses of morphine & we weren’t allowed to even give her sips of water, though she was clearly thirsty. Her last words ever spoken while she gripped onto me, and heard by everyone in the room were “I don’t want to die.” She didn’t want to go and the nursing home was killing her and she knew it.

I still feel complicit in her death, as I tried to “go along” with staff who I assumed knew best. Continue reading

Comment of the Day Trio: “Principled Or Betrayer: Pete Buttigieg’s Brother-In-Law, Pastor Rhyan Glezman”

I won’t make a habit of this, I promise: a Comment of the Day deserves its own post. However, the comments on the question of whether Mayor Buttigieg’s brother-in-law was crossing ethical lines or not by making an inter-family disagreement into media fodder have been uniformly excellent, and bundling the three of moderate length coming up makes sense to me.

Incidentally, the polling shows a real split of opinion, but 59% agree on the basic question: they feel the pastor was ethical. (I’m still not sure about that.)

Here’s the poll so far…

The first of the trio of Comments of the Day on “Principled Or Betrayer: Pete Buttigieg’s Brother-In-Law, Pastor Rhyan Glezman” comes from James M….

As a pastor, Pastor Ryan Glezman has an obligation to attempt to resolve his conflict with his brother-in-law in a way that respects Biblical teachings. (If he doesn’t respect the wisdom of the Bible, he’s probably in the wrong line of work…)

Fortunately, the Book of Matthew, Chapter 18, has some straightforward instruction for dealing with such conflicts. Since both profess to be believing Christians, they are “brothers”, and Matthew’s Gospel gives clear direction:

Verses 15-17:
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Pastor Glezman has expressed his concern that Pete Buttigieg’s frequent forays into Biblical interpretation pose a risk of leading others astray. He didn’t go public over this right away: Mayor Buttigieg has been bloviating about what he thinks Christians should do for quite some time now. Based on that, I’d guess that the pastor has already attempted to privately address the issue with his brother-in-law, and has now moved to treating him as if he were “a pagan or a tax collector”.

Since Chapter 18 gives dire warnings to us all not to cause others to stumble in their faith, Pastor Glezman has ample cause for his concern. Pete Buttigieg’s religious pronouncements do pose a risk of misleading others.

The chapter also emphasizes the vital importance of practicing forgiveness and grace when we deal with others. Now, some people think that means that Christians need to let bad actors continue to cause problems, “turning the other cheek” and “going the extra mile”. That is only part of the truth. Our obligation as Christians includes helping bad actors to understand whatever they’re doing wrong and repent of doing it. We’re not doing a bad actor any favors if our compliance leads him to continue screwing up. We need to approach the problem with love for the bad actor, but we may also cause the bad actor significant heartburn if that’s what it takes to deal with their behavior.

Next is first time commenter Barbara Ravitch. I love when a new commenter enters with such a high-level splash, and with some recent defections and unexplained disappearances, the Ethics Alarms binders full of women could use some replenishment.

Here is her Comment of the Day: Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day, From The Epic Commenter Donnybrook In This Week’s Open Forum”

The other primary combatant in the comment donnybrook referred to in the title (Humble Talent was the one noted in the previous COTD post) was Steve Witherspoon. In his Comment of the Day he references the crux of the dispute without actually referencing the dispute itself. His ever-green topic: the misuse of statistics:

Here is another reason that I dislike the use, or better yet the misuse/abuse, of statistics.

As we all likely know banks are routinely audited by outside sources to check for accuracy. Yesterday I got a piece of mail from a company that I’ve never done business with and I’ve never heard of. The mail was sent from a non local city that I wouldn’t be expecting mail from because I don’t know anyone who lives there and I don’t do business with any company from there. I opened it and found a single piece (3½” X 8½”) of paper with the printed logos from our local bank and the following statement on the top…

“Our Auditors have selected the following account for verification. Please review the information shown below and furnish details of any discrepancy to: [company name and address]. If information is correct, no action is needed.”

Then the paper included our home mortgage account number, interest rate, maturity date, and current balance as of a specific date that was mid month between payments. I read it a couple of times to confirm what I read, then I looked at my wife and said “These people are idiots.” Continue reading

Comment Of The Day, From The Epic Commenter Donnybrook In This Week’s Open Forum

battle-marvel

I was reading with interest, amusement and edification the comment thread in the recent open forum in which two, then four, then even more veteran Ethics Alarms participants got into a heated—but admirably rational and fairly fought—debate over  Steve Witherspoon‘s social media battles with a near-parody of a progressive member of the Madison Metropolitan School Board.  The donnybrook eventually extended to the ethics of public figures blocking critics on social media, apology ethics, race-based school policies, mass-incarceration, and more.

In addition to Steve, originally known here as “Zoltar Speaks,” weighing in were Michael R,  Jutgory, Humble Talent, Paul W. Schlecht, and late entrants slickwilly, Here’s Johnny, and Chris Marschner.

It was kind of like an “Avengers” movie, but more intelligent.

In making the choice I have for this Comment of the Day, I am not declaring any winner. Indeed, there are conclusions in the post to follow that I disagree with, and I’ll be back at the end with some of my own comments.

Here is Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day on the Ali Muldrow thread in the recent open forum:

“What I’m hoping for is less crime committed at school thus requiring fewer arrests and that is what you should be hoping for too.”

I think this is a useless truism. In a conversation about whether certain group are being treated differently than others or whether we ought to arrest children for being disorderly at school, saying “I wish people committed fewer offenses.” is a non sequitur.

As an aside: And this is a question Ali didn’t ask properly: Do you think that children should be arrested for being disorderly? And what do you think “disorderly” in that context entails?

Ali Wrote: “Explain to me how arresting people makes the world a better place, how prisons and detention centers are keeping Americans safe?”

To which you commented: “In all seriousness; anyone that writes that kind of question is completely blinded by their own bias, or they’re a blithering idiot, or they’re trying to justify the elimination of police, prisons and detention centers.”

I think this is an Americanism. Ali said that America was one of the most deadly nations on Earth. That’s not true, she should visit the Congo. But it is somewhat ironic that “The Land of The Free” has three times as many incarcerated people per capita that any other nation on Earth. Does American exceptionalism mean that Americans are also exceptionally criminal, or are you maybe doing something wrong? My take is that America locks people up for a ridiculous number of non-violent crimes, but your mileage may vary. And I don’t think “Well did he break the law or not?” is a good response to “Should this crime carry jail time?” or even better, “Should this be a crime?”. People learn how to be better criminals in jail, it stunts their lives both financially and socially, it’s permanently scarring, and sometimes fatal. While it is necessary to remove people from society or otherwise punish them for some things, sending people to criminal boot camp for jaywalking *is* counterproductive, it *does* make the world a worse place. (and I realize jaywalking is not that kind of crime, that’s hyperbole.) Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Labor Day Weekend Kick-Off Ethics Warm-Up: The ‘I’m Baaaack!’ Edition” [Item #3]

I’m still not ready to post the COTD from the Battle of the Ethics Alarms Stars in the recent open forum, but that will be up tomorrow. This comment by Greg involves the ongoing news media effort to spin and bury the Inspector General’s report yesterday explaining what an untrustworthy disgrace to the FBI James Comey was.

I like Greg’s comment for three reasons: it is concise and well-written, it is about one of the most important topics here, which is how the news media has abandoned integrity and responsible reporting for propaganda and efforts to manipulate public opinion,  and because it saved me a post, since I had been preparing to write a similar essay after reading and listening to the usual media suspects.

I will say up front that Greg’s last sentence is too pessimistic. Abe was right, as I know I say too many times: you can’t fool all of the people all the time. The news media is destroying its own credibility even with those who are naive, lazy and gullible. It keeps doing this—burying stories that the pubic has a right to know but that undermine the media’s narrative, what Joe Biden and the Democrats regard as “the truth” that doesn’t  rely on facts, and little by little even its most stubborn defenders (those who aren’t corrupt) are figuring out that they have been conned. Right now I’m thinking of a lamented Ethics Alarms exile who accused me of “drinking the Kool-Aid” before he left. He’s biased, and he was gullible, but he’s not an idiot, not by any means. He knows he was wrong, and I was right by now. Sadly, he apparently doesn’t have fortitude to come crawling back with the apology he owes me. Well, that’s his tragedy.

Here is Greg’s Comment of the Day on Item #3 of the post, “Labor Day Weekend Kick-Off Ethics Warm-Up: The “I’m Baaaack!” Edition.”

The frustrating thing, though, is that most of the public has been misinformed and deceived about the Inspector General’s report. Comey immediately claimed the report had cleared him, on the grounds that it said he did not leak “classified” information. You know and I know that nobody had ever accused Comey of leaking national security secrets, so the report had “cleared” him of an accusation that had never been made, while finding him guilty of all of the accusations that had actually been made. But most people have no idea about this.

For a few minutes after the report came out, MSNBC, CNN and the other usual suspects played it straight: they admitted that the report was damning of Comey. But then they immediately fell into line: The IG had “cleared” Comey of leaking classified information but “criticized” him for “violating departmental policy.” It had “criticized” him, “scolded” him and “reprimanded” him; but it had “failed to vindicate” Trump and had “contradicted Trump’s accusations.” The IG’s report “found that no crimes were committed” and “acknowledged that Comey was candid with investigators.” It contained “nothing new that hasn’t been known for two years.” And, of course, Republicans have “pounced” on the report to make a “power grab.” The New York Times editorialized that the report was “boring,” while criticizing the IG for making a fuss about nothing. The Washington Post editorialized that “Comey saved democracy with his memos.” Continue reading