Unethical Quote Of The Month: Golden State Warriors Owner Chamath Palihapitiya

“Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay. You bring it up because you care and I think it’s nice that you care. The rest of us don’t care. I’m just telling you a very hard, ugly truth. Of all the things that I care about, yes, it is below my line.”

—–Golden State Warriors owner Chamath Palihapitiya, in an interview.

This statement, classic signature significance, neatly explains why the National Basketball Association remains metaphorically in bed with the brutal regime in China, why the Biden Administration refuses to hold the country responsible for its role as an international outlaw (and inflicting its virus on our population,economy and the world), and if you change just one word, why the United States allowed Hitler’s Final Solution to proceed as far as it did.

Give credit where it is due: at least Palihapitiya is being honest. As for his fellow owners, we can see that they feel exactly the same way through their conduct, but prefer not to say so out loud. It might cut down on the profits from souvenir NBA jerseys. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month (And Signature Significance): Barack Obama

“Few people have done more for this state and this country than this driven, brilliant, sometimes irascible, deeply good man from Searchlight, Nevada.”

—-Former President Barack Obama, speaking at former Democratic Party Senate leader Harry Reid’s funeral.

Harry Reid was asked about his repeated lie during the 2012 Presidential campaign that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had not paid any taxes over the previous decade.  Reid even made that allegation from the floor of the Senate.

Reid’s accusation was an outright, brazen lie. Romney released his tax returns for those years. In 2011, Romney paid $1.9 million in taxes; in 2010, he paid slightly more than $3 million in taxes. The Washington Post Fact Checker, a reliable defender of unethical conduct by Democrats, gave Reid Four Pinocchios for his “no taxes” claim. Another inveterate left-biased factchecking group, PolitiFact, gave the claim a “Pants on Fire” rating.

Reid’s answer to the query became infamous: he responded, “Romney didn’t win, did he?” Later, he insisted  that the lie was “the best thing he ever did.” Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Ann Althouse

manchin

“Why did they hope for so much when they had a 50-50 Senate? Why did they think they’d won the support “to realize [the liberal leaders’] longtime policy goals”?

—-“Politically neutral” blogger/ former law professor Ann Althouse, commenting on the Democrats’ expressions of anger, disappointment and betrayal after Sen. Joe Manchin scuttled their multi-trillion social policies spending bill.

Why indeed. There have been a couple of Ethics Alarms posts about this general topic already, but Althouse’s reaction is particularly deft, since it functions as both a “What the hell’s the matter with these people?” legitimate query and a rhetorical question in which the answer is implicit.

That answer is that the Democrats have abandoned the basic tenets of how this republic is supposed to work as well as the principles of democracy that have served it so well. Never before in our history has the attitude of a political party been that once they have been granted power they have leave to put in place whatever policies and laws their most radical and extreme members can imagine irrespective of the clear expectations and beliefs of the American public.

The closest I can recall is the immediate prelude to the Civil War on the subject of slavery, and even then, the South revolted because it anticipated that the Republican Party would behave this way. The sweeping New Deal policies were undertaken by Democratic control of Congress and the White House with overwhelming support of a frightened public in the grip of The Great Depression. Lyndon Johnson’s extensive reforms followed his landslide victory over a conservative candidate whose views has been resoundingly rejected.

The fact that the House and the Senate are almost evenly divided reflects the lack of consensus or even a clear plurality of public opinion favoring many of the measures in the now-dead “Build Back Better” bill. Democracy exists on a foundation of respect and trust: a closely divided public compels elected officials to proceed carefully and to avoid the appearance of the government running roughshod over half the nation. If a party in power believes fervently in policies so much of the public opposes, then it must lead and persuade, not mandate and decree.

This Democratic Party’s strategy, instead, has been totalitarian in both method and spirit. The pandemic response of Democrats has been constitutionally dubious restrictions on personal liberty, mobility, and autonomy. Those who oppose their policies in this and other areas have been vilified, insulted, denigrated, bullied and threatened, and from the highest levels. Instead of legitimate debate and persuasion, the party has relied on propaganda, and a complicit news media that is expected to mislead the public while enhancing an extreme partisan message. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Comic Sarah Silverman [Corrected…It’s Ron De Santis, Not “Jim.” Sorry, Ron. Sorry, Everybody…]

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“The truth has to matter.”

—–Sarah Silverman, actress, comic, progressive activist, rebuking MSNBC’s Joy Reid for a typical fact-free and inflammatory statement.

Ron DeSantis, the Republican Florida governor, announced a proposal last week that would allocate $3.5 million in state funds toward re-establishing the Florida State Guard.

As an announcement explained:

The establishment of the Florida State Guard will further support those emergency response efforts in the event of a hurricane, natural disasters and other state emergencies. The $3.5 million to establish the Florida State Guard will enable civilians to be trained in the best emergency response techniques. By establishing the Florida State Guard, Florida will become the 23rd state with a state guard recognized by the federal government.

Somewhere a memo went out from Democratic Party Cheap Shot Hysteria Headquarters encouraging disgraceful reactions like this, from Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo, who is running for governor:

DeSantis smear tweet

On the plus side, it’s good for voters to know that Annette can’t read: note that the information that 23 states already have a state guard is right in the announcement.

Can’t read, or won’t stop trying to confuse the public? Here’s former Florida Governor Charlie Christ, making a solid effort to surpass Taddeo’s idiocy:

Crist tweet

A “secret police” with a public announcement!

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Ethics Quote Of The Day: Craig Calcaterra

Legal-Career-Suicide

I wish I could bring myself to subscribe to Craig’s baseball newsletter, I really do. (If you are vaguely intrigued, you can do so here.)

I used to be something of a web friend of Craig’s in his earlier incarnations, first as a part-time sports pundit who was mainly a lawyer (over at “The Baseball Prospectus,” for whom I eventually contributed baseball ethics essays until I got sick of being treated like an afterthought—an occupational hazard of my field) and later after Craig made the brave choice to ditch law and work as a baseball blogger for NBC Sports. But Craig’s political biases ultimately ruined his commentary for me, despite the fact that when he could keep his knee-jerk wokism out of it (which was and is increasingly rare) he still is among the best, smartest and wittiest analysts of the game I love. (Imagine a sane Keith Olbermann, if you can).

I still get a courtesy free edition of his “Cup of Coffee” substack product once a week, as Craig trolls for subscribers. In today’s edition, he was moved to describe what he learned from Kurt Vonnegut, his favorite novelist. Craig’s full of crap on a lot of topics, but regarding what constitutes an ethical life, this quote is excellent.

Describing the moment when he decided to give up the practice of law, he wrote,

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Virginia House of Delegates Member Chris Hurst (D) Hits The Ethics Alarms Trifecta!

Chris Durst

That would be “Ethics Dunce,” “Incompetent Elected Official of the Week” and “Unethical Quote of the Month.” If I had an official “Asshole of the Month” designation, he’d have that wrapped up too.

The day before the Virginia elections, Democratic Virginia House of Delegates Member Chris Hurst and his girlfriend, Emily Frentress, were pulled over by a deputy who spotted them tampering with campaign signs at a polling location. (The 12th District incumbent was also cited for or driving with a suspended license and given a “driving while suspended notification.”) Here is his exchange with the officer as recorded by the officer’s bodycam:

Officer: “I think what you need to do after I deal with you here is go back and fix those signs. What do you think? You try to resort to doing this? Instead of doing a fair election? Chris, quit playing. Quit playing. Y’all are up there turning over signs at the polling area and you’re sitting here acting like you don’t know what’s going on?”

Hurst: “…Here’s what I would say. I would think that something that was a little hijinks and steam blowing off is exactly what everybody over on the other side of the mountain does and people all over this district do.”

Officer: “So you’re going to resort to that and represent us?”

Hurst: “I need you to just do your job here tonight and I’ll do mine. I have nothing more to say to you, officer. I’m sorry for actions that I may have done or my partner may have done, but I think you’re getting a little emotional here.”

Officer: “I’m not getting emotional at all, you’re supposed to be representing us. You’re supposed to be out here representing us and not out here acting like a school kid. How am I supposed to vote for you if you’re out here doing this?”

Hurst: “Were you planning on voting for me?”

Officer: “Well, that’s all up in the air now.”

Hurst: “I’m sorry if I lost your support, sir.”

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Unethical Quote Of The Year: Barack Obama, And I Still Am Amazed He Would Say This Out Loud

Obama and Springstein

“But most of your audiences were primarily white. And they can love Clarence when he’s onstage, but if they ran into him in a bar, suddenly…the n-word comes out.”

—-Former President Barack Obama, talking with Bruce Springsteen on CBS Sunday Morning about the rock star’s partnership with the  E Street Band’s late black saxophonist Clarence Clemons.

And there it is. That’s how Barack Obama, just like his racist wife, thinks of white people like me. When “they” see a black man at a bar, even a famous musician like Clemons, they just can’t restrain themselves. The “n-word”—that’s nigger, you know—“comes out.”

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: AP Libel Victim Vito Gesualdi

Vito-Netflix-walkout

“The media sucks!

—-Comedian and videographer Vito Gesuald, after discovering that the Associated Press lied about his conduct while circulating his image to news outlets around the country.

A detailed account of this illustrative event is here, but the basic facts are these. During the walk-out of Netflix employees who want the streaming service to censor comedians who dare to make jokes about the anointed untouchables in our culture, currently transexuals (among others),  a counter-protester named Vito Gesualdi staged a mild counter-protest with a sign that read “Jokes are funny.” He makes videos and has a humorous podcast, and was on the scene to support  Dave Chappelle’s First Amendment right to make jokes even if some people find them offensive. Vito was photographed by an Associated Press photographer named Damian Dovarganes, with the result you see above.  But the AP captioned the photo, “Comedian and videographer Vito Gesualdi screams profanities as he engages with peaceful protesters begging him to leave…”

Vito was horrified and understandably so. “Screams profanities?” he tweeted. “Dude, I just yelled ‘I love Dave Chappelle’! The media sucks!”  A bit later, Vito discovered with a Google search  that the falsely captioned photo was turning up everywhere.

“Oh great, it’s a stock Associated Press photo caption so that lie is on dozens of news sites now. Any lawyers in the house? This is BS,” he wrote adding with another tweet, “Worth noting that my co-host Dick Masterson is currently at the hospital getting a CT scan after having his head bounced against a concrete planter by these ‘peaceful protestors.'”
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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2021: To Boldly Go…

Shatner in space

1. William Shatner didn’t die. It doesn’t matter. People really don’t get moral luck, do they? Of course, only a tiny percentage of the public reads Ethics Alarms. 90-year-old William Shatner flew into space yesterday aboard a ship built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company. The former “James T. Kirk” and three fellow passengers boldly went to an altitude of 66.5 miles over the West Texas desert in the fully automated capsule, then safely parachuted back to Earth. The flight lasted just over 10 minutes. I had previously and correctly pointed out that Bezos had violated basic Kantian ethics, the Categorical Imperative, by exploiting Shatner and placing the old egomaniac at risk in order to promote Blue Origin. “But Shatner consented!” Bezos apologists kept telling me. So if someone consents to being used as a means to an end, that makes using a human being as a means to an end ethical?

Well, sometimes—Kant was an absolutist, and there are no absolutes. However, Shatner’s exploitation doesn’t qualify as an exception. What if the stress of the flight had killed him? Then many would be questioning Bezos’s motives, but the ethical problem is the same whether Shatner survived or not. That the flight didn’t end up looking like an elaborate grand suicide for an iconic actor who knew his time had almost run out anyway was pure moral luck.

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Over And Behind The “Insensitive Racial Rhetoric” Line [Updated]

Welcome Mat

Race-baiters, ruthless activists and cancel culture bullies are lurking and waiting to pounce on any public figure whose public statements (or revealed private ones) can sustain accusations of racism. Two recent examples from the world of sports help define when such comments are signature significance for an individual who is racially biased, and when they should be excused with little more than a raised eyebrow.

Over the Line: The NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden sent an email in 2011 came that attacked NFL Player’s Association head DeMaurice Smith, an African-American, by writing to Bruce Allen, who was the GM of the Washington Football Club, then called “The Redskins,” “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires.”

Nice. At least Gruden recognized what he would be facing once the Wall Street Journal reported on his leaked email, and shot out an apology, though not a credible one. He said he was “really sorry” and suggested that it was all a big misunderstanding. You see, Gruden refers to liars as “rubber lips.” Sure he does. You hear that phrase all the time in reference to Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo, and James Comey. Rubber lips! Makes perfect sense. “I don’t think he’s dumb,” Gruden protested to the Journal. “I don’t think he’s a liar. I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven that for 58 years.”

I’m not sure what a “racial bone” is, but I assume he means that he isn’t racially biased and has proved it by his conduct. As we have discussed on Ethics Alarms often, racist beliefs and racially biased conduct are distinct in many ways, and one doesn’t necessarily lead to the other. One distinction is that racist beliefs are legal, and if an individual is adept at recognizing that bias for what it is and not letting it govern his or her conduct, it isn’t unethical. Maybe Gruden hasn’t engaged in obviously racist or bigoted conduct in his life, but color me skeptical. A man claiming that that he isn’t racially biased who uses an ad hominem insult referring to a black man’s lips has as much credibility as that same man saying that he referred to someone as “Dumboriss” but doesn’t think he’s dumb. Ironically, Gruden’s excuse marks him as dumb and a liar who can’t keep his dishonest excuses straight. “I wasn’t making a racist comment when I said his lips looked like black inflated tires, I just use ‘rubber lips’ to mean liar, but…but.. I don’t believe he’s a liar either!” is the epitome of trying to dig one’s way out of a hole.

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