Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, Pearl Harbor Day, 2019: Actual Crimes, Misdemeanors And Other Despicable Acts Edition

Remember.

1. The Bad Guys. This email message was received by George Washington Law School administrators urging it to punish Prof. Johnathan Turley for presenting a factual analysis of the Democrats’ contrived case against Donald Trump:

“I am writing you all after listening to Jonathan Turley’s disgraceful statement defending the corrupt and impeachable actions of President Trump at the House Judiciary impeachment hearing today. I know you all cringe inside knowing that you are affiliated in some way with Turley and have to work or study at the same institution in which he is employed. He is defending the indefensible and I hope that all of the Deans at GWU Law and the students will recognize that he is not serving in the best interest of our country and is a detriment to the success of your school’s future reputation. His actions today were spineless and shameful. He is clearly a lackey for the Trump Administration I trust you will act appropriately and reprimand this sad excuse of a man.”

The email was unsigned, but the school says it did not come from a student. Meanwhile, on his blog, Turley has stated that his “office and home have been inundated with threats from people irate over the fact that I would question the sufficiency of this record for impeachment.” He also has felt it necessary to respond to intentionally false arguments against his positions. That Turley’s employers would be told by anyone that the public courage and erudition of Prof. Turley could possibly be “a detriment to the success” of the “school’s future reputation” show how completely the  mass determination to “get” President Trump has entered the realm of Bizarro World ethics, or perhaps for younger fans of “Stranger Things,” the Upside Down.

A commenter on the post about the email at Legal Insurrection writes,

In The Coming of the Third Reich (2003), historian Richard J. Evans explains how, in the early days of National Socialist Germany, Stormtroopers (Brownshirts) “organized campaigns against unwanted professors in the local newspapers [and] staged mass disruptions of their lectures.” To express dissent from Nazi positions became a matter of taking one’s life into one’s hands. The idea of people of opposing viewpoints airing their disagreements in a civil and mutually respectful manner was gone. One was a Nazi, or one was silent (and fearful).

Today’s fascists call themselves “anti-fascists.” Just like the Nazis, they are totalitarian: they are determined not to allow their opponents to murmur the slightest whisper of dissent. Forcibly suppressing the speech of someone with whom one disagrees is a quintessentially fascist act.

Exactly.

2. The Legacy of Marion Barry.  Usually crooked D.C. politicians who are caught stealing money or passing it along to cronies —and there have been oh-so-many of them, resign, long-time member D.C. City Council member Jack Evans, however, became the first local scam artist to be kicked off the body, which voted this week that he  be expelled after a series of investigations found Evans, the city’s longest-serving lawmaker, used his public office to benefit private clients and employers who paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“He has betrayed each and every one of us,” said council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), who is leading the internal investigation of Evans. “You would speak to him about council things, but he was speaking for the people who were buying him.”

This time, for a change, the elected crook is white, so there will be no demonstrations by D.C. residents claiming racism. Whew! Continue reading

Sackler, Tufts, Cancel Culture And The 100th Rationalization: The Reverse Ruddigore

I have been waiting to find the ideal 100th Rationalization, officially #70 (there are 30 sub-rationalizations on the EA Rationalizations list. It’s “The Reverse Ruddigore,” the equally valid opposite of Rationalization #21. Ethics Accounting, or “I’ve earned this”/ “I made up for that”:

 You cannot earn the right to act unethically by depositing a lot of ethical deeds in the imaginary ethics bank, nor can unethical conduct be erased by doing good for someone else. The illusion that one can balance the ethics books this way is referred to on the Ethics Alarms blog as “the Ruddigore Fallacy.”  Nobody earns the right to be unethical, not even once, no matter how exemplary their conduct. An unethical act is just as unethical, whether it is performed by a saint, a hero, or a villain.

“Ruddigore,” for those of you sadly unaware of the joys of Gilbert and Sullivan, is the unjustly under-rated work by the Victorian geniuses that involved an ancient curse on a family that required a Baronet of Ruddigore to perform a crime a day or die in agony, courtesy of his re-animated ancestors, who otherwise hang around, literally, as portraits in a haunted gallery. One member of the family who has inherited the curse, Sir Despard, believes that he has found a loophole:

“I get my crime over the first thing in the morning, and then, ha! ha! for the rest of the day I do good – I do good – I do good! Two days since, I stole a child and built an orphan asylum. Yesterday I robbed a bank and endowed a bishopric. To-day I carry off Rose Maybud and atone with a cathedral! This is what it is to be the sport and toy of a Picture Gallery!”

Looking back on past posts, I laid the groundwork for #70 when I condemned the decision of Walt Disney World to remove Bill Cosby’s bust from the its Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame of Fame:

[L]ast I heard Bill Cosby was still recognized as a major trailblazer in stand-up, TV comedy, and television integration (remember “I Spy”?), an important positive cultural force for race relations and black community self esteem, and a spectacularly talented comedian with a unique voice and presence. None of that has changed. Those were the achievements that prompted Cosby’s bust’s inclusion in Disney’s Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza, along with celebrities such as Lucille Ball and Oprah Winfrey who, like the Cos, have been inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. O.J. Simpson is still honored in the College Football Hall of Fame, because he was one of the greatest college stars ever. His post-career hobby as a murderer, like Bill’s extra-curricular activities as a serial rapist, have nothing to do with the honor, just as Cosby earned and still deserves, his honor for what he achieved on stage and screen.

Subsequent bad acts no more cancel out past good ones than Sir Despard’s cathedral would make up for kidnapping sweet Rose Maybud. The current “Cancel Culture,” however, holds otherwise. In the latest episode, Tufts University announced today that it will strip the Sackler name from the buildings and programs on its medical campus, after a report censured the school for its relationship with the family whose drug company made OxyContin, the opioid blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths nationwide. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Review, 12/I/50: Birthday/Finding Dad Dead In His Chair Anniversary Edition

[Yesterday I was just about to post the following when I felt a recurrence of the dizziness that sent me to the floor on Thanksgiving,  This sent me to the emergency room, where I spent  the second worst birthday of my life. I just got home, now just about 24 hours later, after three blood tests, about ten stroke tests, lots of other tests and quizzes, four doctors and a miserable night, culminating in the conclusion that whatever this was, it wasn’t related to my heart or circulation. 54% of fainting incidents, I learned remain mysteries. Swell.]

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Hi.

Ten years ago today, I went over to my parent’s condo to check on my dad, since my mother, then recovering from knee surgery, was concerned that she hadn’t heard from him. Jack A. Marshall Sr. was also going to take me out for dinner, since it was my birthday, but that pleasure was not to be. He had died, quietly during a nap, a few months short of his 90th year. I miss my father’s inspiration, guidance and unflagging support constantly, and December first has been a matter of serious dissonance for me ever since. I did take comfort, while everyone was telling me that I was a fool not to go to the emergency room after my fainting episode on Thanksgiving, that the odds of anyone dropping dead not only on the anniversary of his father’s death, but also on his own birthday, seems extremely remote. Kind of cool, though.

I took my birthday off of my Facebook page because those reflex happy birthday messages—I send them myself—are meaningless and  faintly obligatory. Two years ago I received almost 200 of them, then last year I got the message when the number fell by about two-thirds. I had made it clear by then that I was rebelling against the Facebook Borg aka “the resistance,” and so I had been told that I did NOT deserve a happy birthday. Fine. Bite me.

1 “The Crown” Ethics. A. The Pretend Sister-in-Law Of The King’s Pass! While waiting to see if I was going to pass out again, I began watching Season 3 of Netflix’s “The Crown.” Like the first two seasons, the series is uniformly excellent and largely accurate, but I am annoyed at Helena Bonham Carter’s turn as the middle-aged Princess Margaret. Carter is an excellent actress as well as one of the biggest stars the series has featured, but to be blunt, she’s too fat to play Margaret, who at that point in her life was  still vain winning the battle against middle-aged spread (at 5’1, it could not have been easy.) For a production that mostly aims for near perfect look-alike casting (young Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Phillip are especially uncanny), why would the producers allow Carter to appear on screen like this? Mostly, I’m annoyed at her: actors gain and lose weight all the time for roles, and a mere 10-15 pounds would have made Carter a credible and flattering Margaret. She could have hit the gym and laid off the kidney pie; obviously the actress didn’t care, and the producer and director let her get away with it, because she’s a star. Yet all the lines about how glamorous Margaret is make no sense as a result. Carter’s a beautiful woman, but she’s a mighty frumpy Princess Margaret.

B. A perfect future episode for Season 4, or maybe 5, is going on right now.  Prince Andrew, the younger brother of Prince Charles, has long been mentioned a party pal of billionaire sex-slaver Jeffrey Epstein, and thanks to a car crash  of a BBC interview in which he couldn’t have seemed more guilty and less remorseful, the Duke of York is reportedly being removed from all royal duties and may have his allowance cut off, meaning that his two princess daughters will no longer be supported by taxpayers, among other nasty consequences. Charleshas ordered a crisis meeting with his scandal-scarred brother before Monday night’s dreaded BBC special with key accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who accuses Andrew of raping her while she was under Epstein’s control.

The news media has been ostentatiously uninterested in Prince Andrew’s travails, in marked contrast to its coverage of the various Charles-Diana scandals in days of yore. One reason, I think, is that Epstein’s OTHER celebrity playmate was Bill Clinton, and it will be hard to expose one without drawing attention to the other. After all, the objective now is to get Trump, not remind the public about Bill (or Harvey.) Media bias is exhibited as much by what isn’t reported as by what is. Continue reading

Whatever Day This Is Ethics Warm-Up, 11/30/2019: The Bonkers Left Thanksgiving Edition [CORRECTED]

What a week!

Until a minute ago, I had no idea what day this is, as is usual on Thanksgiving week, though it’s possible that fainting during Thanksgiving dinner and landing on my head has something to do with it. [Incidentally, before I get accused of an anti-Left bias (again), if the Right behaved half as bonkers this week as their ideological foes, I would have written about it.] 

1. What does it say about our media that two websites and a TV network feature a guy that writes things like this? What does it say about our society that he has an audience?

We stand on the precipice of losing our American character to the forces of authoritarianism and bigotry. For many people, this holiday season will be the last face-to-face encounter with family members before the most consequential election of our lifetimes. And yet, many people are desperate to pass the potatoes without starting any uncomfortable conversations.

The holidays are when your resistance is needed. Some of you have the opportunity to talk to Trump voters and assorted conservatives this weekend. Some of you will have the opportunity to talk to people who live in an echo chamber of Fox News commentary and Russian troll farms. To waste that opportunity because of your own hang-ups and Mommy or Daddy issues is criminal….You might not like conflict, but if you choose to break bread with Trump supporters and climate change deniers because you happen to be related to them, then conflict is required. Anything less is appeasement, and we’ve had far too much of that these past few years. So stiffen your spine, rehearse your talking points, and get ready to fry some turkeys in your family with your righteousness…

Take a traditional Thanksgiving Day football game. This may seem like safe, nonpolitical ground—so long as everybody agrees to not talk about Colin Kaepernick. But it won’t take long for Trump supporters in your family to say something racist, sexist, or plain nutty while watching the game. They’ll say a white athlete is just a “hard worker” while praising a black athlete’s “natural gifts.” They’ll champion a slur against Native Americans, masquerading as a nickname, on a holiday that commemorates the prelude to a continental genocide. They’ll make fun of the “egghead statisticians,” which will sound like they’re making a comment on football strategy, but actually they’re making an attack on science and math that will later fuel their climate change denier sensibilities. Or maybe they’ll just sit like lumps on the couch while women: prepare dinner, set the table, take care of the kids, clean up after dinner, serve dessert, and fetch them a beer.

In those moments, I think of the children. I think of the behavior that is being modeled for them. I think of the cultural messages they are learning as they’re being exposed to these “traditional” structures….

Who IS this lunatic? Why, it’s Elie Mystal, the race-obsessed, U.S. hating crazy who made “Above the Law” so unbearable to read that I have to go elsewhere for my big law firm gossip. Because he detests whites and the U,S, and of course the President, Ellie is now turning up on MSNBC and, of course, on “The Nation’s” site, where America-bashing thrives.He really, really thinks that white Americans, men and supporters of President Trump (Ellie is a man, but he calls himself Elie, so he has an out) are as he portrays, racist, sexist morons who must be vanquished. An equivalent stereotype for blacks would have them eating watermelon and fried chicken while they listen to the Mills Brothers sing “De Camptown Races.” The man just oozes with hate; almost as much hate as disinformation and progressive propaganda. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Dinner Ethics Appetizers, 11/28/2019: Boing Boing, Boeing, And Bears In The Woods

Have a gentle, loving Thanksgiving, everyone.

And thanks so much for visiting and participating.

Tangential question: Does anyone watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade any more, with the lip synced musical numbers in the street, the inflatable balloons of anciet cartoon characters, the floats that are virtually identical every year, and the phony blather from the B-level celebrities in the booth? Isn’t this spectacle now something that people watch out habit, like the Miss America pageant, “Peanuts” holiday specials and the Oscars, even though it has the entertainment value of styrofoam?

1. Tucker Carlson endorses the Julie Principle! Last night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson made the shocking statement that President Trump has been less than truthful with the American people.

“We’re not gonna lie to you, that was untrue,” Carlson said. “The crowd at the 2017 inauguration was not the largest ever measured at the National Mall. Sorry, it wasn’t. Why did the president claim that it was? Well, because that’s who he is. Donald Trump is a salesman, he’s a talker, a boaster, a booster, a compulsive self-promoter. At times he’s a full-blown BS artist.”

Observations:

  • NOW Carlson is enlightening us about this? Every sentient being knew this about Donald Trump ten years ago, before the Presidency was a twinkle in his eye.
  • Has there ever been an irrelevant fabrication by any U.S. President as harped upon incessantly by critics and the media as Trump’s silly claims about his inauguration crowd?
  •  The Washington Post, aping the New York Times, manufactured another one of those compilations of Trump “lies.” As of last month, the Post says, Trump had told over 13,000 false or misleading statements since taking office, including, of course, including the Inauguration boast. If I didn’t have a sock drawer crisis to deal with, I’m sure I would find that at least a third of those “lies” are in fact nothing of the sort, but mistakes, off-the-cuff exaggerations, and obvious puffery, as in, “Trump said X was ‘the —-est,’ but Y is actually  —-er.”
  • Here is what I wrote almost exactly three years ago, before that Inauguration, in a post called, “Trump, His Critics, and The Julie Principle”:

Yesterday, many, not several but many, of my Angry Left Facebook friends posted links to stories attacking Trump’s silly tweet about him really winning the popular vote and there being millions of fraudulent votes for Hillary Clinton. “Is he going to do this sort of thing his entire administration?” one friend asked.

YES! YES HE IS! OF COURSE HE IS! DON’T YOU KNOW THIS ALREADY? ARE YOU REALLY GOING TO FLIP OUT AT EVERY SINGLE  INSTANCE WHEN TRUMP SAYS OR TWEETS SOMETHING STUPID LIKE THIS?

If so, then you are going to go nuts, and you will just become irrelevant and annoying.

Which, of course, they have. Including the Post and Tucker Carlson. Continue reading

Pre-Thanksgiving Day Ethics Wrap-Up, 11/27/2019

Be thankful tomorrow, everybody.

There’s always something…

1. On unethical misleading language, Part A: Today’s “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias” note: I was suddenly struck after reading one, two, three, four impeachment-related stories in a row in four separate news sources that they all used the phrase “dirt on Joe Biden.” Isn’t that strange? “Dirt” isn’t a description, it’s a characterization, and a deliberately  pejorative one that assumes that Biden is a victim of a dastardly action. It’s widespread use is one more smoking gun that demonstrates mainstream media bias aimed at smearing President Trump. The term “dirt” presupposes that if the President sought to persuade the Ukraine to aid the U.S. in an investigation, something it is obligated by treaty to do, it was only to assist his re-election chances. When the term “dirt” has been used in conjunction with a politition seeking damning information on Bill Clinton, either George Bush, or Trump himslef, it was always in the context of an election campaign. Few wrote that the Mueller investigation was a “dirt” seeking operation (though in truth it was). But it’s always “dirt on Joe Biden” that the Ukraine was allegedly asked/forced/extorted into looking for. When Jeffrey Epstein was being investigated, nobody said the FBI was seeking to smear him with “dirt,” because news sources accepted that an investigation was appropriate.

Yet there are many reasons and strong evidence suggesting that an investigation of Joe Biden’s alleged machinations to benefit his son by abusing his office and misusing his influence was (and is) also appropriate. The United States should not just shrug off corruption in its highest offices because a complicit individual is running for President, but that is the thrust of the current impeachment push by House Democrats. For the media to intentionally choose terminology—and slang, which is usually not in a newspaper style-book— to lead readers away from the argument that an investigation of Joe Biden was necessary and valid whether he was running for President or not shows a disturbing disinterest in fair reporting, and a preference for anti-Trump propaganda. Continue reading

In California, A Black Lives Matter Ethics Mess

Here’s the story, and then we’ll look at the ethics miscreants who made an ethics  mess of it….

At Del Paso Manor Elementary, near Sacramento, a parent volunteer in a sixth grade class asked the teacher if she could teach an art lesson about diversity. The male teacher told her in front of the class that “his lessons would contain lessons with ‘a bunch of old white guys’ so her content may not fit.” The volunteer  was confused and “a bit concerned” by the statement, but went ahead with the project she had envisioned. She asked the students to each make  a poster that focused on something “they wanted to see changed at the school.”  Four students created Black Lives Matter posters.

The next day, the teacher told the parent volunteer that he had thrown the four posters away because they were “inappropriate and political.” The teacher asked the volunteer “whether students were getting shot at the school and demanded answers regarding why a presentation on Black Lives Matter was relevant” to the school.

The volunteer complained to the principal, who backed up the teacher and his decision, agreeing that Black Lives Matter posters are political statements and off limits for public display in the school. Then someone, perhaps the volunteer but maybe a parent, took the matter to the ACLU. The group then contacted the  school district, and argued that  Black Lives Matter posters were protected speech under the California Education Code because they “convey a student’s thoughts, ideas and beliefs in the support of black lives,” and were also protected under the California Constitution.

Ugh.

Now the ethics verdicts: Continue reading