Category Archives: Ethics Heroes

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/20/2019: MAGA Cap Day Edition

Good Morning!

No, I’m not going to wear a MAGA cap today, though I am sorely tempted. The Second Niggardly Principle inveighs against it: just because some people are offended by something based on ignorance or bias doesn’t mean its right to intentionally trigger them, much as they may deserve it.

“Make America Great Again” had, and has, many legitimate and defensible interpretations, and it could have been adopted by either party at many times in our history. Democrats put a racist spin on Trump’s slogan in 2016 because that was how they had responded to all criticism of the Barack Obama Presidency for 8 years, and the tactic was effective, if divisive and despicable. The current tactic is to attcahe racism to any supporter of the President who wears the hat, thorough narrative-supporting fake news like the “racist smile” of a Catholic teen at the Lincoln Memorial and the recent Jussie Smullett hoax, which led the news media to accept the fantasy that MAGA hat wearing thugs were roaming Chicago looking for minorities to assault.

The idea that electing someone with the personality, qualifications and character of Donald Trump could possibly make America greater seemed ridiculous to me during the campaign, and still does. That still does not mean that Barack Obama and his administration did not make the nation significantly worse: weaker, less financially stable, more divided, and less committed to democracy, individual initiative, free enterprise, the rule of law, and civil rights. Under President Trump, despite himself, many of those trends have begun to reverse themselves. Good. I would not say that this has made America greater, not with an ongoing effort on the Left to overthrow Trump’s Presidency without the inconvenience of an election, and not with racial, ethnic and gender divisions being deliberately widened by Democrats for perceived political gain.

I also wouldn’t wear a MAGA cap because the “again” rankles me, and always has. The United States is great, which does not mean it is perfect, or that it should not constantly strive to meet the dauntingly high ideals of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Gettysburg Address. Ironically, it is those who seek to demonize the slogan who really don’t think America is great, and who want to deconstruct it. They have to be fought, and rebutted, and exposed. Wearing a cap, however, is not the way to do it.

1. Unfortunately, these MAGA cap hate stories aren’t fake. An employee at Van’s, a clothing store in Kansas demanded that a teenage boy take off his MAGA hat, and when the boy refused—good for him— didn’t, the employee said “Fuck you!” according to the boy’s mother, who witnessed the exchange.

“He did nothing to you,” the mother says she told the employee. “What did you say to my son, to my 14-year-old?”

“I’m sure he’s heard it before,” the employee responded. You know: “everybody does it.” And besides, Democrats say its the right thing to do.

She complained, and Van’s fired the jerk.

The episode in Tennessee was scarier: A  man was arrested over the weekend after pulling a gun on a Sam’s Club customer who was wearing a MAGA cap, WBKO 13 News reported.  Eventually the media and Democratic narrative about what the hat means—it’s like KKK hood, you know— is going to get someone killed. Continue reading

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Ethics Hero: CBS Correspondent Lara Logan [Updated]

This was tough: I also was tempted to label the story an Ethical Quote of the Month (see below) or even an Ethics Quiz; after all, is someone really a hero for simply stating in public what any honest, unbiased, objective observer already knows to be true, and what should be obvious to anyone paying attention? I decided that the answer to the latter is yes. She’s a hero if virtually her entire industry has been working overtime to deceive the public into believing otherwise.

In a recent interview, former CBS News Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan [CORRECTION NOTE: In the original version of this post, I incorrectly stated that Logan was still with CBS.]  stated unequivocally that the mainstream news media is disproportionately liberal, and that the imbalance undermines journalism and fair reporting. She told retired Navy SEAL Mike Ritland in a podcast,

“Visually, anyone who’s ever been to Israel and been to the Wailing Wall has seen that the women have this tiny little spot in front of the wall to pray, and the rest of the wall is for the men. To me, that’s a great representation of the American media, is that in this tiny little corner where the women pray you’ve got Breitbart and Fox News and a few others, and from there on, you have CBS, ABC, NBC, Huffington Post, Politico, whatever, right? All of them.

And that’s a problem for me, because even if it was reversed, if it was vastly mostly on the right, that would also be a problem for me. My experience has been that the more opinions you have, the more ways that you look at everything in life.”

Logan also said that the press coverage of President Trump shows how the news media distorts its reports  so that “there’s no grey. It’s all one way.” Continue reading

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Lunch Time Ethics Appetizer, 2/13/2019: Rail, Restaurants, Resignation And Reality

Yum Yum!

1. When reality meets ideology… California Gov. Gavin Newsom  announced that

[He’s] abandoning a $77 billion plan to build a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco and will focus instead on completing a 119-mile (190-kilometer) segment in the state’s agricultural heartland. Voters approved a ballot measure in 2008 calling for the linking of Northern and Southern California, a rail project initially estimated to cost $33 billion and be completed in 2020. Subsequent estimates more than doubled the cost and pushed the timeline to 2033. Newsom pledged to finish the segment already under construction through California’s Central Valley. He rejected the idea critics have raised that it will be a “train to nowhere” and said it can help revitalize the economically depressed region.

We’ll see how much that part costs, if it’s ever completed. Meanwhile, Democrats are going to have to declare their fealty to the “Green New Deal,” which pledges to eliminate air travel nation-wide with “high speed rail.”

2. What part of “convenient double standards” is unclear to you? Kelli Goff writes at the Daily Beast (relayed by Ann Althouse, since I have the DB on my Ethics Alarms  Untrustworthy Black List):

“When Rachel Dolezal was unmasked as a white woman who misrepresented her racial and ethnic identity in part to bolster her professional bona fides as a voice of the disenfranchised, she was penalized—heavily. She went from rising media star to late-night punchline, unemployable and impoverished. I don’t wish poverty on Warren, but I don’t understand how her only punishment for a similar fraud seems to be that she may become president.”

Warren, a polished demagogue, got rave reviews for her recent speech throwing her war-bonnet  into the 2020 ring; like Barack Obama, skillful public speaking is the full extent of her qualifications for leadership. But wow—with the Democrats more or less trapped into nominating another woman to run against Donald Trump, what an awful field of openly unethical females they have assembled so far! Warren’s a fraud; Gillibrand is an anti-male bigot; Gabbard is running away from strong anti-gay positions, Harris has attacked the Catholic faith as a disqualifying feature for a judge, and then there’s Hillary, who looks outstanding in this field. Continue reading

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Open Forum, Sick Host Edition

The chair is empty.

I’m going to hand the blog over to you right now, since I am temporarily incapable of going two minutes without sneezing, coughing, gagging or sleeping. Maybe I’ll be able to catch up on posting some Comments of the Day as well, since that takes about a tenth as much time as a full post. Or maybe I’ll just crawl off into the snow and let nature take its course.

Yes, I’m feeling sorry for myself. Make me proud, ethics lovers…

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Ethics Hero, Covington Catholic Students Fake News: Dusty Smith

Who is Dusty Smith? That’s him above. He’s a pundit, activist and atheist who runs the “Humanist Society of Mississippi, ” is a self-proclaimed progressive, and detests Donald Trump. Unlike so many progressives and Trump-Haters however, truth and integrity still mean something to him. Thus it is that after initially reacting in knee-jerk, Pavlovian fashion to a false news story that seemed to bolster all sorts of mainstream news media, 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, “resistance” narratives—Catholics are bad, white males are toxic, whites are racists, Trump supporters are racists, pro-life advocates are fools, “The Age of Trump” has energized racism, just to name a few—-he actually reviewed the evidence, and realized that the story was, in his words, “bullshit.” He was disgusted, and made this video…

Nice job, Dusty.

His is one of many examinations of this fiasco emerging on the web now, not that it has discouraged many on social media from still citing the original story so they can signal to their “Orange Man Bad” friends that the posteris right-thinking and virtuous and deserves  a tsunami of “likes” and  “loves.” I bear an ugly truth:  there is no excuse for this. It is irresponsible, incompetent, and destructive. You don’t denigrate a kid and paint a target on his back…

Reza Aslan

@rezaaslan

Honest question. Have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid’s?

…without being damn certain of your facts. (Actually, you never paint a target on a kid’s back, but let’s start with baby steps, since Trump-Hate has eaten so many consciences and ethics alarms.) Oh, but these kids were wearing MAGA hats, so they deserve it, right? That was the instant approach of the biased journalists and their inexcusably credulous readers, who then joined the social media mobs. It is not just because I was suspicious of the story from the beginning that I state now that everyone should have smelled a rat. After all, just the day before, the mainstream media whipped itself into an impeachment orgy based on a fake “bombshell” from the internet equivalent of the National Enquirer, BuzzFeed. Nor was that the first clue (or the hundredth)  that the media can’t be trusted, particularly when it comes to conservatives and MAGA hats. Journalists have disgraced themselves progressively (in both definitions of the word)  since at least the 2008 Presidential campaign; they cannot be trusted, and their abdication of ethical journalism now poses a direct threat to democracy. The members of the public who eagerly accepted the attack on the Covington school kids as fact aided and abetted divisive propaganda that they want to be true.

Writes Marta Hernandez about this incident in part at Victory Girls (which I am adding today to the Ethics Alarms links): Continue reading

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Ethics Hero: George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley

I almost included this in yesterday’s ethics warm-up, but realized that the point was too important not to have the focus of an entire post.

During the Post 2016 Election Ethics Train Wreck that threatens the stability of the United States and its future as a functioning democracy,  Prof. Turley has been one of the select few to meet the qualifications laid out by Rudyard Kipling in my late father’s favorite poem “If.” He has managed to keep his head while all about him, especially in academia, his realm, but also most professionals, have been losing theirs, mostly in response to crushing peer pressure, unsupported conventional wisdom, and partisan bias.

It’s remarkable how much easier it is to analyze complex problems accurately when one can maintain sufficient objectivity and remove, and can overcome bias and resist the lure of rationalizations. In The Hill, Turley demonstrates the benefits of his integrity with a sharp and accurate post—it happens to be consistent with my own conclusions of more than a year’s duration, but I don’t have to hang out in a faculty lounge—explaining the dynamics of the unprecedented efforts by the FBI and the Justice Department to undermine the Trump Presidency before it even began.

Turley’s article begins by mentioning  the New York Times “bombshell” about the FBI launching an investigation of whether the President of the United States was a Russian asset…

However, the real benefit of the investigative story may not be the original suspicion, but rather how it could explain the course that both sides have taken into our current quagmire. What if there were no collusion or conspiracy but simple cognitive bias on both sides, where the actions of one seemed to confirm precisely the suspicions of the other?

Let me focus the professor’s words here. There are all kinds of cognitive bias, and several may be at work. However, the main one is clearly confirmation bias, the human tendency to interpret information in ways that confirm what we believe already. Continue reading

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Ethics Hero: Arby’s!

Why don’t businesses do this kind of thing all the time?

A 97-year-old  World War II veteran who calls himself “Mr. Doug” has been eating lunch, by himself, at an Arby’s in Chandler, Arizona almost every day.

An employee asked him why he was such a regular. The veteran told him that he has no family, and that he always has the same thing at the fast food restaurant because it is one of the rare meals that doesn’t upset his stomach.

The Arby’s staff took a collection and bought Mr. Doug a $200 gift card, and even gave him their phone numbers, so if he can’t get to Arby’s they will deliver lunch to him. Then corporate headquarters learned about the staff’s kindness, and went one better: It  announced that Mr. Doug could eat at Arby’s free of charge for the rest of his life.

My WWII vet Dad would have been 97 this year. Unfortunately, he hated Arby’s.

A suggested modified slogan for the company, which I’m sure Ving Rhames could deliver with gusto:

“Arby’s! We have THE ETHICS!”

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